Monday, April 06, 2015

Reconnoitering Peaks 10,296, 10,561, and the North and East Face of Scott Peak, Beaverhead Range, Idaho

Friday, April 3-4, 2015

Upper Webber Lakes
Peak 10,561...Northeast of Scott Peak
Thursday, April 2nd was cold, windy, and grey. I considered venturing out the next morning with Ben to visit the north side of Scott Peak via Webber Creek. Given the bleak weather Thursday evening, I decided to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely day at home.

Awoke around 10:00 and looked outside. Friday morning was much improved. Made a quick decision to go. Ben and I threw our packs together and hit the road. We arrived at Webber Creek Campground around 2:00 P.M. and began hiking.

The hike is easy to moderate as you follow a trail along Webber Creek into the mountains. Several times during the hike, I thought it was a perfect place for a family outing to enjoy some backcountry. Heavily forested slopes give way to the grassy banks of the creek. Dogwoods and other thickets line the stream.

Beaver Dam, Webber Creek
Scott Peak in the Distance
Ben and I hiked for about five hours trying to get to the box canyon leading to the upper lakes before dusk. We stopped for dinner, chicken and rice, and took several snap shots of the mountains along the way. Thought these images may provide reference material for climbers wanting to scale Webber or Scott Peak from the east. The couloirs on the east face look doable for a late winter/early spring climb.

Scott Peak From Webber Creek
We encountered snow and ice along the trail several hours into the hike and eventually traveled across large patches of snow. When we lost the trail under the snow, we found bobcat tracks in the snow leading directly to the next section of trail. Over and over again the tracks led to the path. this little guy knew the trail well. We arrived at the second lake around 7:00 P.M. In some places the snow was still 3 to 4 feet deep in the upper canyon. We were fortunate to cross the surface without post holing. The distance hiked was about 6.2 miles and the elevation gain was around 2000 ft. I made some photos and then we set up the tent in an open grassy patch next to the second lake at about 9,100 feet.

Hike From Campground to Upper Lakes
You know you are approaching the entrance to the box canyon when Peak 10,296 comes into view. The trail skirts this mountain on the east and then turns west.

Peak 10,296, Beaverhead Range, Idaho
Northwest Face of Peak 10,296

Frozen Lake at the Base of Peak 10,561
The Ridge from Peak 10,561 to Scott Peak

Walking Across the Lake
Near the Second Lake
North Face Scott Peak
Campsite at Second Lake
The North Face of Scott Peak
The temperature dropped to the lower twenties during the night. Our gear was at its limit. We never got cold but were never toasty. We joked we were lukewarm most of the night.

In the morning we ate some yogurt and chocolate cake; Mom was far away. Later, we packed up and hiked to the end of the canyon before turning northeast and heading out. Once at the mouth of the canyon, we turned northwest and headed up a steep slope into another small box canyon just to see what was there. I was a glutton for punishment. About a half mile into the climb, I started to post hole past my knees. Post holing is never fun and with a forty pound pack (I carried a bunch of extra stuff considering this to be a good conditioning hike) it is pure agony. After about 10 steps it was a no brainer to turn around and head down.

Looking Towards the End of the Canyon
Scott Peak on Left

Leaving the Upper Lakes
Scott Peak on Left
How to Get There:
To get to the campground trail head, drive to Dubois on I-15 and turn west onto highway 22. Follow 22 looking for Medicine Lodge Rd. to the north. Turn right on Medicine Lodge Road and follow it northwest towards the Montana border. This drive offers beautiful views of seldom seen landscapes and is well worth the trip. Watch for Webber Creek Rd on the left. If you see Medicine Lodge Ranch with its massive log fences, you've gone too far. Turn around and retrace a half mile or so until you can turn east on Webber Creek Rd. Follow this road to the campground trail head. All access roads are very good. A passenger car will have no problem getting you to this adventure.

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1 comment:

Cliff Brane said...

I like the narrative here. Interesting how this hike developed. Final shot of leaving the upper lakes is really cool with the light on the rock face and the trees and rocks and they conjunct. The figure also give you a sense of scale.