Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Independence Mtn.

I got a little fed up with climbing. Not so much angry as just tired of doing it every day, especially solo. Starting taking rest days more often, and it wasnt for resting the body as much as the mind. So to spice things up for a while, I have decided to go do some hiking fr the next few days until I am going to meet April in Pocatello.

Since I also didnt feel like driving I found something close, in fact in the same range as City of Rocks, the Albion Range. Looking through the guide I found Independence Mtn. The second highest peak in the range, but a little more technically demanding than the highest peak Cache Peak.

To give a little understanding here as to the grades for what I do. Things are divided into 6 classes that go something like this

Class 1 - On trail hiking – this can be pretty steep but still on trail

Class 2 - Hiking cross country, sometimes hands are used, but not really for climbing

Class 3 - Hands are used for upward motion and a fall would be painful but not serious

Class 4 – Many people will use a rope here. Generally a lot of class 3 with a larger fall potential but technically pretty easy climbing.

Class 5 – This is where I spend most of my time. This is always (unless you are free soloing) roped and is split into 5.0 to 5.14 I have climbed 5.12 but now am comfortably in the 5.10 zone. The gear is only used for protection from a fall, all progress is made using your body.

Class 6 – The climbing is too hard for hands and feet, so you rest on pieces and use them to “aid” you upwards. Johns and mine route up harpers ferry is an example of this kind of climbing.


So Independence Mtn is a class 2/3 rather than everything else in So. Idaho which is just class 2. I am pretty comfortable even up to class 4 or low 5th class going unroped and wanted a little more challenge than just slogging up a hill forever.

The mountain is just shy of 10,000 feet and looked to be about 6 miles roundtrip from the car.

Drove up via Forest Service roads (fun in the VW) that were passable but barely. Eventually about 2 miles from the trailhead ran into a guy with a van on the side of the road. He had been stuck there all the previous nite and was waiting for his friends to come get him. I couldnt help too much getting his car unstuck but was glad he was there so I could park the car before the going got rough. Wasnt actually too bad, the road was fine up ahead, but the spring snow melt had drifted across the road in several places making the road impassable.





Starting at about 11:15 hiked the two miles to the actual trailhead, and started up the pleasant grade for the three miles to Independence Lakes where I would break from the trail and head up to the ridge and then the summit, which is all trail-less.

Great views of both Elba and Oakley on opposite sides of the range. Hoping to see City of Rocks which was currently occluded by the mountain itself.

Ran into snow about 1.5 miles before the lakes but luckily the snow was more packed and you wouldnt break through unlike my trip in Rocky Mtn National Park. I would be on snow pretty much for the duration of the trip.

Got to the lakes which were farther than I expected and skirted them on the southern sides, finally reaching a spot in the cirque directly below the line to the ridge.

View of the cirque from first Lake. Would be ascending near the farthest point





Looked like pretty steep snow with cornices at the ridgeline. A cornice is an overhang of snow and ice, cause by wind and they are dangerous both from below, because they can collapse and are hard to climb, and from above because you can unexpectedly break through. The slope did not look avalanche prone, the snow was to packed and was too steep to hold anything anyway.

Looking up from the last lake to the ridge.Wound up going to the right of the cliffline about halfway up, then up to the lowest part on the ridge in this photo




Luckily since I had gone to the end of the cirque I only had about 800 vertical feet to climb up the snow face, kicking steps up the steep stuff to give better purchase. I did this whole hike with no shirt even though I was surrounded by the white stuff. Strange experience. This was definitely the hardest part of the climb but not too bad, just hard on the lungs mostly.

After gaining the ridge it was an easy hike to the top. Making sure to keep far enough back from the ridge to not be endangered by the cornices.

The summit was full of ladybugs! And I mean full of them I have never seen this many congregating before. Stepping gingerly, I took the mandatory summit photo and Pano











I was expecting the walk down to take forever, but instead of retracing my steps I took the north meadows on the way down, and basically glissaded on open snow the whole time except for maybe a quarter mile at the bottom. I dropped the 2000 feet and 4 mile circle to a straight line that took about 30 minutes.

Back at the car around 3:45 or so.

Ok final trip stats on this one.

Started at 11:15
Duration 4.5 hours
Mileage 11.6 according to the GPS




Vertical about 2600 from car to summit.

Profile (over distance not time)




And for the super nerdy here is the Google map view of where I was and where I went.



View Larger Map

1 comment:

juliamasseymusic said...

Wow! You're up to some cooooool stuff, Nick! I'm glad you're seeing so many beautiful sights. I traveled in a veggie-oil-powered RV last summer...I wonder if you're having a similar experience with your collection of grease. All the best, Julia