Thursday, June 19, 2008

OldHyndman Hike/Climb

After chilaxin in Twin Falls for a morning, I had already been bitten by the bug to get back out and climb another mountain. Thumbing through my guidebook for Idaho mountains I found that the Pioneer Range was the closest and also a "premier" mountain range. It is also one of the higher ranges in Idaho, having at least one mountain over 12,000 feet and many over 11. The tallest in Idaho is Mt. Borah at 12,668.

Found Old Hyndman which seemed to have the most interesting route, near the top there is a vertical face, but a diagonal dike (a volcanic intrusion into the base rock) provides a 3rd class route to the top. Also a shorter hike, than some of the other large mountains in the range. Lastly having some ambitious and over-optimistic (insanity?) tendencies it also provided the opportunity to continue around the cirque and basically do a ridge traverse (all over 10k) through 4 other 11,000+ mtns.

This pano is taken from the top of Old Hyndman and gives an ok view of what I was trying to do. It is labeled on the flickr page, but if you want to really see it then go to All sizes and then original to get the biggest picture and count around. From the left. Hyndman is the left most and is the largest peak in the area at 12,009. The next two are called the Devils Bedsteads. These are all north on the ridge and not on the ciruqe i was trying to do. Then is the huge long green glacial cut Whitehorse Canyon which is obvious in the left center of the image. At a little more than halfway you can see the ridge drop down from where i am (Old Hyndman) and connect to Point 11422 and Big Basin Peak. In the right center are the two obvious peaks separated by a knife edge ridge, this is Jaqueline Mtn, and would be the end of the traverse. Cobb Mtn (the one visible on the hike in) is at the extreme right. Also check out the interactive map to get your bearings.

So the (tentative) plan would be to drive up to the range, about 2 hours from twin falls, near Sun Valley, and hike to base-camp in the afternoon. Then camp and have a full day to do whatever I wanted up high.

I am going to try and make a diligent Google Map for this one so hopefully people can follow along either on the map, or here or both. The map is at the bottom of this post and is numbered.

Picture 1 - The range on the drive in from the approach road.

Picture 2 - The good ole VW at the trailhead

Tried to go pretty light, just took water, a little food, ridgerest, and bivy sack plus sleeping bag. I would ditch the sleeping stuff for the main part of the hike.

The first couple miles are pretty relaxed, taking the main drainage east following a roaring stream. This stream I would eventually realize was the all the runoff for the drainage I would be hiking into called Big Basin. As a side note, I have heard that it is impossible to stay hydrated by eating snow. The volume ratio to just water is pretty insane and combined with the temperature difference gives you a zero net gain no matter how much you eat. Given that seeing the level of the water in this "stream" as runoff from maybe 4 square miles of snowpack and it is very evident that there is ALOT of water contained in all that snow.

Oddly despite being on of the larger peaks, Old Hyndman is not visible until much later on, because it is blocked by this.

Picture 3 - Cobb Mountain dominates the hike up the drainage

I missed a turn and went a half-mile north where i was supposed to cross the stream and continue east. Pretty hard to see the junction. You can see this detour into the north drainage of Cobb on the map. Went to cross the stream which was really raging. Got all prepared took the shoes off started across and MAN was it cold. Like unbearably cold. Those who have gone caving and jumped into 40 degree water know what i am talking about. Developed a technique here that i used through this trip. Would count down from 20 or so to prepare myself for something hard/scary/tiring etc. and then just go early, psych my brain out. Learned this from DanO, the only difference is that he was getting psyched to jump off 1200 foot cliffs and me to cross a 15 foot wide stream. Ill take that difference and be humble.

After the stream crossing it was only another mile or two up to "basecamp" here the trail basically ends at a large flat spot with fire pits and places to tie up horses. Saw lots of signs of horses and this would be a great place to do a horse-packing trip with the horses bringing you up this far and then do hikes from here.

I was pretty tired so just setup camp as it were and took a few pictures and fell asleep for the nite.

Picture 4 - The two peaks of Jaqueline Mtn, the end of the cirque, supposedly only a dozen people have been up to these in the last 50 years. If I made it all the way around you can see in the extreme right of the photo where the mountain comes down to a saddle and changes color from dark grey to light grey, that would be my descent route.

Got up and moving by 8:30, and ended up having to go farther up the basin than I had anticipated. The idea was to get up to two lakes underneath Cobb and then make my way up to the saddle between Old Hyndman and Peak 11422. However, the initial approaches to the lake were guarded by the roaring river and steep walls. By hiking up farther into the basin the stream got smaller and found a place where i could pick my way up the walls into the upper basin.

Picture 5 - After getting to the upper basin I could finally see Old Hyndman, Cobb is on the left looking larger and Old Hyndman is farther along the ridge on the right.

From here on out almost everything, with the exception of some of the windswept ridges or steep stuff, was on snow. The snow was not nearly as good for hiking as I had found in the Albion range. I would get about 50 feet and be fine, and then the next 50 feet would be a huge struggle sinking into my thighs. This is affectionately called post-holing, which is a nice name for one of the most arduous things to do in the mountains. Still better than carrying snowshoes though.

I finally make the saddle at 11,000 which isnt too bad actually.

Picture 6 - The ascent route up the upper bits of Old Hyndman from the saddle. While the route is supposed to go up the diagonal line to the notch in the middle of the face that was covered in snow.

Up some really mushy snow which made me question my sanity, and then up some talus to the base of the south face. Since the dike was filled with snow I scrambled up good rock just left and paralleling the original route. Not too bad as the rock was pretty solid and the climbing 4th class, to maybe really low 5th class. Though i am glad i have such a solid technical climbing background as I could imagine this being more scary than it was for me.

Picture 7- The summit register

Picture 8 - Looking down the ridge back towards the saddle, Point 11422 and Big Basin Peak. The best view of the next part of the hike.

The summit of Old Hyndman was great, not too windy, and a scary view over the 1000 foot north face if you want to peer over the edge. Instead of just heading down I could see that the ridge over to the next two wasnt so bad and if i wanted to get down there were many ways back into the basin.

Ok here is my little soapbox bit for the day. Looking through the summit register, I came across the comments of the last person who was up here in late autumn. (I was the first of the year!) Paraphrasing went something like this.

"If Old Hyndman could see the gratuitous display of wealth at his feet he would be incensed."

There was a rather big modern house only about a mile from the trailhead. Now I know i am arguing against the side i usually take, but it seems to me that these people had to somehow earn their money through some sort of value-adding work. If they want to build a house on a beautiful piece of land with a great view then I am all for it. It seems the writer of this needs to be careful not to confuse jealousy with environmentalism. Ok enough Soapbox

Since I didnt want to scramble down what I came up, I kicked steps down the snow filled dike, which was fine given the snow conditions up this high. Got back to the saddle and started back up towards Point 11422.

Though broken into talus, the rock on this peak was amazing. I mean pieces of granite you would use over your fireplace. Some of the finest grained and most consistent quality I have ever seen. If this were still in one piece it would be the best cliff i had ever seen. Amazing how this was right next to Old Hyndman which though has the same rock underneath (part of the Idaho Batholith) it was still covered by metamorphized sedimentary rock (quartzite) as an overburden.

The top of this peak and the ridge over to Big Basin were extremely windy so no pictures through here.

Big Basin was the most technically challenging peak I was on all day. Not too bad on the way up, just steep talus, but near the top was a snow bridge I had to kick across which had a lot of exposure. And then there was the ridge down and over to the Jaqueline Peaks

Picture 9 - Looking down the ridge towards the saddle with Jaqueline.

Picture 10 - Farther along the ridge past an intermediate unnamed point (the one with the reddish tinge then up to the North Jaqueline Peak. And even beyond this the knife edge ridge continues to South Jaqueline another half mile, which isnt visible in this photo.

Not wanting to go back across the snow-bridge, and the ridge isnt as bad as it looks in photos, I started picking my way down the ridge towards the saddle. Slow going as the rock was pretty loose and you have to constantly be aware, and peek over the ridge to see what options are presented. Pretty steep on either side dropping 300 feet to Big Basin and probably 800 to the basin on the south side of the ridge.

Picture 11 - Looking back up the ridge I had just come down.

By the time I was at the saddle it was time to re-evaluate. The climbing wasnt too bad, but it was eating up time. It had taken my 45 minutes to go .2 miles. Looking at the time and how much farther to go with these conditions the math didnt add up. I had enough daylight, but not enough to chance it. Chance isnt something I will play with in the mountains.

So I just stepped off the ridge and back into the snow. Luckily the snow was in decent shape here and was able to glissade down for a bit. Glissading is a marvelous mountain method of travel the can explained by the words, butt sledding. Though this works better with waterproof pants, it is a fast safe way down snow slopes.

Picture 12 - If you look carefully you can see my track.

Though off the technical stuff I wasnt out of the woods yet. Since the sun had been out all day, the snow had become slushier and now was unbearable to walk through. Virtually every step I was up to my upper thighs and sometimes up to my crotch. Got pretty soaked but synthetics and wool socks (thanks Mom!) kept me pretty warma as long as i kept moving.

I had to go for almost 1.5 miles of this stuff to get out of the high basins and back on the trail to camp. Sometime I would just see snow ahead for 200 yards, and just close my eyes and trudge until my lungs or legs gave out, as it was so unbearable to see how little progress you made per unit time.

Eventually made it through the snow and then another easy mile back to base-camp. Chilled out for an hour or two just eating and not being on my feet.

Picture 13 - Took this picture of a pussywillow on the way down, only notable in that my mood had improved enough to think about taking the pictures. Amazing what food and drink will do to improve dampened spirits.

The river crossing was easier this time around. Since my shoes were already soaked, I just left them on and trudged through. This disregard for foot health (avoiding obvious puddles etc) is inversely proportional to the percentage of the the way through a trip. Hence by the end of a trip I will walk through just about anything where I had been super careful on the way up.

Back at the car i was feeling pretty worn out, so I shaved, washed up and gave myself a haircut.

Picture 14 - My new haircut.

Check out the Flickr Set Page for the whole slew of photos I took on this trip. As a side note, for weight savings and just to try and make things a little challenging I only took one lens a 50mm 1.4. Sorta hard as I wanted something alot wider, ended up taking alot of mini panos and stitching them together.,.

Ok here is the map of the trip hopefully with everything labeled correctly, let me know if things dont look correct. It will look cluttered at first but zoom on in and things will clear up. The pictures should link to Flickr as well. Pardon the numbering... i havent created my own numbers ye

View Larger Map

And here are the statistics.

Here is the cirque clockwise from the north and what I did in bold. If it were later in the summer it would be an excellent and hard day to put this whole thing together.

- Cobb Mtn - Old Hyndman - Point 11422 - Big Basin - Jaueline N - Jaqueline S

Times and Distances:

-2:15 - 4:30 up to basecamp on the 17th 5.0 miles (with wrong turn)
-8:30 - 3:20 basecamp up to peaks and back to basecamp 6.4 miles
-4:00 - 5:15 basecamp back to car 3.7 miles

GPS Image.

Elevation Profile - much more relief than last time!

Lastly for those interested (especially John Kelbel) check out the raw GPS data, there is a ton of noise in the snow covered areas (reflections) think that GPS uses low frequency waves (lower even than radio) maybe Dave could shed some light on what could cause these to behave this way. Seems to be the worst on snow fields and sharp ridges. Not only disorientating on the map, but also since I have all of a sudden gone 25 more miles, my average speed changes which screws up all the ETA and ETE calculations. 3 miles back to basecamp? 4 minutes? Yeah right.

View Larger Map

Phew. This is mostly about trying to get the Trip Report done right, let me know if anything could use a changing. Super fun trip. Ranks up there with my Labor Day advetures with Jeff (Basin Mtn Amphitheater/Dacks Slabs) in terms of energy expenditures per unit time.

Time to go back to City of Rocks, and get a spot at the BLM and meet the girls for some climbing over then only a week till Eliza comes out!


Anonymous said...

Whooo-ahh! These pictures are great! Can't wait to see those sights in person (especially #14)!

Anonymous said...

I will be happy when Eliza gets there too. Better to have company. The snow is such a surprise. Beautiful mountains, beautiful fabric (quilt) colors. CAF