Saturday, June 28, 2008

A real rest day

Got up and moving finally by noon! Yikes I must have been tired from yesterdays "rest day" Tried t get up and do a mountain called Snowyside. Got about 3 miles in (7 total to the base of the route) and didnt feel like making a stream crossing and slogging through wet boots for the next couple of hours. So just a 6 mile hike today.

Standard Pretty Mountains with lake in foreground shot...

More generic photos. Standard B/W backlit trees with Sun

Oh and i couldnt resist the B/W indian paintbrush

Sort of a shame I didnt make it up higher. There was a formation called El Capitan, though unlike its California namesake is only 2000 feet high and is composed of decomposing metamorphic rock (bad news) and not bullet hard granite.

Been thinking alot about the el cap in Yosemite. Everyone i run into says the rock is great but the scene there is intolerable. I am inclined to agree. Waking up early to reserve campsites. The "heart of the climbing universe" lots of tourists. Sounds like everything i dislike. Maybe the approach is to go there with haul bags packed and get right on a wall. No dilly-dally in the valley.

Just things to consider. I need to find another 2 day wall at least the get comfy again with the whole big wall thing. My climbing is getting near the level needed to do it in a reasonable amount of time.

More importantly. My sister went to the hospital today to get ready to have her baby. Due in the next few days!

Not going to Montana, maybe to a place called the Fins, and then to pick up Eliza on Tues!

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Easy Hike (McGown)

I was supposed to go climb on the Perch again today, but got up here last nite, found Tim and he had to work today. Was a blessing however as I didnt think I had another day at the Perch in me so soon. It is just a ton of work, and you constantly have to be on the ball all day, which is mentally tiring alongside the vast amount of physical work that has to be done.

So I settled into a beautiful camp above the lake and took some great sunset photos while I was trying to figure out what to do. Here are my favorites, but check out the rest because they are all pretty neat.

Fire in the Sky

More Fire

Stars over Thompson Peak - a 3 hour exposure from about 10 till midnite

When i got up in the morning I was no closer to knowing what I wanted to do. Most of the climbs are approached via Redfish Lake which requires a 15 dollar (an well worth it) boat ride to the far side of the lake which saves 5 miles of hiking each way. Didnt have a particular desire to do something specific so i looked elsewhere. Was bad enough that i was driving through Stanley (such as it is) and trying to read my guidebook at the same time! Settled on the northernmost Sawtooth Peak called McGown.

A view of McGown only 100 yards past the trail register.

Of the parts of the hike that were a slog (every hike has them) this had the nicest. Wildflowers and rivers break up the monotony of the easier hiking. After a mile on the Stanley Lake trail you turn left onto the Alpine Way trail. This crosses several rivers and a swamp (mosquitoes!) and then gains a bunch of elevation on its way to a saddle below the McGown Cirque.

View through the trees on the way up to the Saddle

The rest of the hike is off trail, but not too bad. I dont have a lot of batteries in my GPS so instead of following it precisely i would just turn it on here and there to verify my location.

The hike is sort of tricky because as you come up into the cirque from the trees you have actually passed McGown and are more in the cirque for the next peak. Ended up being beneficial as there was a raging stream more easily crossed up high. Traversed over ledges and increasingly snow to the basin below the East Face of McGown.

A view of the route, bypassing the massive East Face via the ledges and snowed rib on the left.

Moving was pretty easy. Mostly stayed on the rock because that is my comfort zone. The rock here wasnt too great. Extremely coarse granite that isnt well adhered together. So lots of sandy bits.

Interestingly however, the Sawtooh granite has a lot of Feldspar, and when it crumbles like this it will tint the snow almost to a Koolaid color.

The last and trickiest part of the climb is to get to the summit. There is a summit block that you traverse on snow underneath and then scramble up the block as the going gets easier.

If i had traversed farther (to the ridge) the rock might have been easier, but the snow conditions were not great so i choose the slightly harder rock variation instead. Might be 4th class or low 5th. However it did put me directly on the summit.

Close up of the Sawtooths looking south from the summit.

Full Summit Pano

Got to practice the fine art of boot skiing on the way down. Made it back to the main cirque in 15 minutes compared to 2 hours on the way up. Found a neat little spire and had lunch.

Pano from the top of the spire.

And of course the mandatory Self Portrait.

Rest of the way down was uneventful. Not bad for a rest day.

Here are the rest of the statistics... Didnt have the GPS running so no nifty elevation profile etc.

Starting Elevation - 6400
Summit - 9860

Roundtrip 9 miles
Duration: 6 hours

And an improvised Google Map showing the way i went (approximately)

View Larger Map

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome to the real Mountains

Meeting up with Tim and Peter proved an interesting experience. Both are very accomplished climbers and very different. I felt like we were getting tested almost to prove we could hang with the big boys.

Upon rolling in to Hailey on Tuesday nite, we picked up Tim and headed up Trail Creek Ridge to a Tony Yaniro crag. Yaniro was a beast and on this wall the warm up was solid 12. Even getting to the wall is a challenge, the road is dirt with a 2000 foot steep scree slope to the creek. Then you scramble up 5.0 slab for 70 feet to the base of the route and you jump on this route "Muscle Beach" aptly named and it is just in your face bottom to top. Talk about pumpy! Pete led it and everyone TRed it. Got it with one hang. Phew!

If that wasnt enough the next day we did a route with Tim. Where Peter is the hardcore sport man, Tim is the consummate mountain professional. He has been climbing for 28 years. Mountain and river guide. We wake up at 5:30am drive an hour to the Sawtooths and Redfish Lake.

The grand Mogul looking out of the back of the water taxi (not mine)


The beauty of this place is hard to explain. These are not just little mountains. It is a serious mountain range with no easy way to cross country travel.

We take the 8am taxi across the lake which avoids the 5mile approach. Still after unloading we have to climb 3 or 4 miles and nearly 3000 feet to the base of the elephants perch.

Along the way there is a stream crossing over class 4/5 rapids with the water lapping over the logs. And a snow crossing where we kicked steps and used our ice axes/hiking poles to get up the slpe without falling into the creek.

The perch is a 1200 foot tall piece of perfect pink granite.

The route we did was around the cornerto the right and started from the approach gully. Sideline 5.9+R 4 pitches with a short 5.7 pitch to approach.

P0 5.7 - just getting around the giant chockstone blocking the gully
P1 5.8 - Tim leads up avoiding the big loose flakes and connects us up to the tree
P2 5.9+ - My lead, great flake system to some runout face up to a roof, step right then back left over the roof on small pockets. Exposed!
P3 5.8 Tim leads moderate stuff to a fun pull over a roof
P4 5.9 connect two flakes via some face climbing, and on last friction crux to the big ledge.

500 feet in an hour and a half!

Walk (scramble) off right to the descent gully and one rap gets you back to the ground. What a day in the mountains!

Might do it again on Friday.

Last week at City of Rocks etc.

Just wanted to give a review of what I did at City of Rocks last week.

Lets see I got back to City of Rocks from the Pioneer Mtns Thursday nite. I had staked out my first spot at the BLM camping for nearly two weeks, so was a little bummed when I was only able to get the second spot. However it turned out great because I met another couple with whom to climb. Russ and Sharon are from Seattle and had quit their jobs in October and sold their house and bought an RV. On a climbing roadtrip since then! Putting my little gallivanting to shame. They were kind enough to share dinner and wine with me, and even better to provide climbing partners.

Friday June 20th

Got up early to beat the heat, and headed to the back side of Bath Rock (in the shade) Sharon lead up a nice 5.9 called Private Idaho, and then I went and lead up a 10a named Coffee and Cornflakes. Sort of neat, but a little scary getting to the first bolt 40 feet off the ground. Luckily I was able to put a sling around a rock horn to provide some intermediate protection. Especially since the next moves past three bolts were steep!

Me pulling through the crux on Coffee and Cornflakes

Russ then went up Colossus, the most popular 10c in the City. Felt pretty easy but still fun climbing.

Me nearing the crux on Colussus

Since Sharon had never done any trad before we went over to the Breadloaves and I did Intruding Dike a nice 5.7 trad line. Basically the quartz had intruded into the granite and then eroded faster, leaving a perfect inch and a half splitter through the wall.

Lastly we went and Toproped New Toy 10b, and Bloody Fingers. The latter which is becoming my favorite climb here at the city.

Saturday June 21st (the solstice!)

April, and her roommate/coworker Laura showed up yesterday evening with their friends from Wyoming, Andrew and Peter. After climbing so long by myself and then a day with the extremely relaxed and chill Russ and Sharon, spending a few days with 18-20 year olds was rather taxing to say the least. Nice kids and all but more than anything still kids. Loud, belligerent, irrespective, did I say loud? kids. But enough of that here is the tally of the days climbing.

Decadent Wall, Carols Cracks 5.8 trad line.
TR on New Toy (again)
Finally led Bloody Fingers which was my proudest lead yet at the City. It has a burly and committing lower crux which instead of just pulling through (which would have been easier but more dangerous fall potential) I felt great putting in 3 pieces through this section.

Since it was the solstice after we made dinner we went back up to Bath Rock and did the scramble up the top of the rock. Amazing spot with huge holes (the baths) in the rock. Everybody sort of found their own and chilled out and watched the sky on the longest day of the year. Was great to have some quiet time.

Sunday June 22nd

More climbing with the kids.

Went to the Incisor a really great spire formation near parking lot rock. It was pretty crowded but we got on a few sport routes (sorta) The 10a that I led only a few bolts up very thin and insecure face climbing, to a barely there tips seam that protected with extremely small cams. Last moves were great as you traversed back tothe anchors via an undercling out a giant roof. Did a 5.9 called Scream Cheese and a 10b called Fall Line.

Rain gladly putting an end to this strangely tense and grumpy day for everyone.

Lightening above our tents at the BLM (thanks to Russ for the pic)

Monday June 23rd

Hooked up again with Russ and Sharon, and went to Castle Rocks. Castle is a satellite area of the City and is visible as you drive in. The general impression is "oh look a couple more rocks over there" In fact it is a huge area with potential for 1000s of climbs. Amazing the scale difference as you approach these formations. Things that look like boulders from the road are 150 feet tall! April went off to hike and be by herself for awhile, and Russ, Sharon, and I chased the shade around the main Castle Rock. Ended up doing 8 pitches with all but one being 5.10 climbing! here is the litany.

Castle Moat 5.8 odd slab moves to enjoyable and easy 5.8
Blind Pig 10a easy diagonal face line.
Unknown 10c super thin technical crimping next to Blind Pig (nice lead Russ!)
Unkown 10d to Unknown 10a on the North Face (10d wasnt bad actually and the 10a was super exposed and fun.
April came back and did a hard 10b crimp line.
Russ led a fun and not too hard but with fun moves 10c
At the end of the day I managed to make my way up (2 falls) a short 12a. While it was 12 moves everything else was 5.9 making it a good introduction to the grade.

Me on the 10d arete

April on her hard crimpy 10b

After that long day April and I headed in the direction of the Sawtooths where we hoped to meet up with Pete and Tim whom we had met at the City a few weeks prior. Ended up camping at a great spot south of Twins Falls called Rock Creek Canyon. Isolated, and wild. Neat spot.

Tuesday 24th of June

Went to Dierkes Lake near Twin Falls. Hot! A neat Basalt area on the Snake river. I did lots of bouldering on chocolate basalt blocks while April washed our clothes in the lake. Shredded my tips on the boulders, but was fun just walking around and being able to casually get on anything at all. April finished up washing and promptly sent a hard boulder that started with a 10 foot horizontal roof to a knee bar and hard rock over move to get to the top. Spent some time swimming in the lake and getting cleaner than I have been in weeks.

Self Portrait on an Unknown boulder at Dierkes Lake

Monday, June 23, 2008

Off to Montana

Lots to write about, not much time. Leaving City of Rocks for a while and going to Dierkes Lake, Sawtooths, and then to Helena Montana to climb at Hellgate Canyon. MMM Sport-climbing. Makes me strong like bull.

Ill write more and put up pictures once i get a chance.

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!

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.

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Day 9 Sunday June 15th

Meet up with Brian at 9am. Funny guy, as id odd funny. I think we drank 8 Pabsts throughout the day. Apparently is an outdoor child psychologist. Scary

Climbed by the twin sisters which are huge formations apart from the rest of the city. They are off limits though but not the crags around them. Hiked to the yellow wall but it was scorching! Did a couple nice sport 10s on the Weather wall instead. Squall line and High Pressure System. Also TRed the 11b from the anchors Storm Front

Got up it without any difficulty, I must be getting stronger.

Hiked over to another formation and did White Lightening a 10a trad offwidth crack. Tons of fun, big jams through a layack roof corner thing. John again would have been jealous. Also in the area is a 12a handcrack through a roof that looks stunning. Will have to go try that sometime.

Finally we went back to Yellow Wall and did the classic 5.9 there by the same name. I was tired and sun beaten by then and didnt really enjoy it though it felt neat.

Actually ate out at the outback. Double hamburger. Yum. Glad to be done with Brian and done with the City for awhile.

Day 8 Saturday June 14th

Another rest day. These are occurring more frequently and I am starting to feel tired of this whole climbing scene. I wash my hands for the first time and afterwards they are still sore, bloated, scabbed, swollen, and bruised.

I think it is time for a break.

Spend the day reading (finish Iron Council which was excellent) and doing nerd stuff like programming my GPS with waypoints and routes and the topo of the hike I want to do tomorrow. It is not far but is the second biggest mtn in the range that has City of rocks, the Albion range. About 10500 I think. Called Independence Mountain, looks to be slightly more technical than its higher neighbor Cache Peak.

Later though another solo climber from SLC comes by looking for a partner. I think I can do another day and we have similar interests and abilities as far as climbing is concerned.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 7 Friday 13th

Wow didnt even realize that it was friday the 13th before I was writing this. Not that I am suspicious just an interesting tidbit.

Did in fact meet some rather nice people this morning in the Decadent Wall parking lot. Tyler and Erik from SLC. Wish i got a better picture of him as he looks like a young Ozzie! Was going to go setup some Trs and actually did one on the back side of Go West (make it hurt 10a) but then met them down at Parking lot Rock. Was surprised at how much a missed actually being with other people. I was tired from the previous day so I let them lead everything and basically just mooched off of them all day.

Here is the litany of what we did. Tow away zone, 10a balancy lieback moves then easier crack for 100 feet. Funky bolt 9 supposed to be a classic, maybe for the leader but nothing special for just following. Thin Slice 10a my favorite line of the day. Just like it sounds straight finger locks through a few bulges. Stress Fracture 10b, super hard flared moves through a small opening roof to some nice crack, then a 5 inch crack through a ten foot roof! Luckily you can mostly face climb around the heinous looking crack.

Roadkill 10b actually sort of interesting, climbs though a watergroove that looks like it has been pin scarred (overuse of pitons) but is actually a natural feature. There would be tiny pockets for your fingers at the back of this rounded groove. After that there was some pretty hard slab with few holds near the top.

To end the day we found a climb called Drilling Fields 11a huge holds the whole way up but steep!! Took one fall on it but managed the rest second try. Sport climbing would be good to build up endurance.

Tyler leading up Drilling Fields

Stayed for awhile with those guys and their friends Fred and Chad at their campsite. Fred is nuts, probably 50 years old still putting up new routes climbs 13 something and goes on apparently suicidal ski tours near SLC. All the bravado definitely turned me off to my rekindled interest in humankind. I promised to go send some “sick routes” the next day but had no intention on keeping that promise and slunk down to my BLM site.