Monday, June 01, 2015

Climbing The Brow and Lame Jake Peak, May 31, 2015

The Brow from Birch Creek Valley, Lemhi Range, Idaho
I drove to the Birch Creek Valley late Saturday night. Once I got to the Pass Creek turnoff just south of Lone Pine, the light was nearly gone. Headed towards the mountains and found a place to sleep a few miles off the highway. The plan was to photograph the Lemhis at first light and then find my way to the North Fork Pass Creek Canyon. This canyon, just north of Diamond Peak, leads to the impressive east face of The Brow. See above.

Arose at 5:00 A.M. had a bite to eat and waited for the light. Made several images of the range around Diamond Peak.

Big Boy Peak, The Riddler, Diamond Peak, and The Brow, Lemhi Range, Idaho

Little Diamond Peak, Black and White Peak (hidden), Shoshone John Peak, The Riddler, Diamond Peak, The Brow, Lemhi Range, Idaho

The Riddler, Diamond Peak, and The Brow, Lemhi Range, Idaho

Dome Peak, looking southwest, Lemhi Range Idaho
Shoshone John Peak, Big Boy Peak, The Riddler, and Diamond Peak, Lemhi Range, Idaho

Diamond Peak, Lemhi Range, Idaho
The drive to North Fork Pass Creek was straight forward. The road was excellent for Lemhi standards. My Forester had no problem at all. The most important turnoff comes shortly after turning off on Pass Creek Road from the highway. Not long after turning, look for a road on the right that takes you up a small bench. Once on this road, follow it until you see the mouth of North Fork Pass Creek Canyon. It is quite a distance.

The hike up the canyon was beautiful. Springs emerged from several places to feed the creek. They often disappeared and reemerged alone the way. A nice bonus of such a hike is drinking straight from icy cold mountain spring water.

As I neared the end of the canyon, I veered left. I could not get a good look at the mountain because of the trees. From what I could see and from looking at the face from the Birch Creek Valley earlier in the morning, I had pretty much decided on a line up the east face towards the south end. I also planned on coming down the east face on the north end to make the ridge leading to Lame Jake Peak.

A highlight of the trip was viewing the exotic north face of Diamond Peak. It looked like some foreign vista.

North Face Diamond Peak, Lemhi Range, Idaho
Big Sister in foreground, The Iron Divide in center distance, Bell Mountain on right

Walking south along the ridge of The Brow

Summit peak of The Brow
Bell Mountain on the left

Coming off peak on the east face, the snow was soft and deep. Taking big steps, I sunk past my knees. I triggered several small slides on my way down. The last two weeks have brought lots of rain in the valleys and deposited a few inches of new snow on the mountains. Where there was already snow, this new snow settled on the surface of a compacted snow pack. At this point the two layers had not sintered. With my downward motion, the top 2 inches would occasionally break away and slide down the mountain. I thought about the two men who were killed on Moran in an avalanche a few week ago. The conditions were similar. An unconsolidated, relatively shallow, slab of new snow broke away above them, picked up momentum and swept them five-hundred feet down the steep Sickle Couloir.  The Brow is not as steep as Moran and the snow pack is no where near that of the Tetons this time of year. Still, I watched, with fascination, the small slides triggered by my steps, slowly pick up more snow and momentum as they glided down the mountain. I decided to move closer to the edge of the snow pack, just in case.

Once off the mountain and onto the ridge leading to Lame Jake, I heard a loud swooshing sound and looked back over to the north face of The Brow. The steep north face of The Brow was sill laden with snow and a moderate slab of new snow had broken free near the top and was sliding down the mountain. It was a bit surreal to see it pick up speed on its way down. It looked quite harmless until it slammed into the side of large rocks and exploded dramatically into the air. I was amazed at the force hidden in so little snow. That must have been similar to what hit those guys on Moran.

North Face of The Brow
Avalanche slammed into the lower center rocks
You can see the dark stain continue on the right of the outcropping
The walk to Lame Jake Peak from The Brow is an easy ninety-minute stroll along a gentle ridge. One might as well take in Lame Jake in the same trip as The Brow. And besides, if you climbed from North Fork Pass Creek, you can loop back around and end up back in the canyon.

GPS Track

The ridge to Lame Jake Peak
The three summits of Lame Jake
Three peaks on right...Rust Peak, Incredible Hulk, and Meadow Peak in distance
Rocky Canyon
Lame Jake Peak on right and Rust Peak upper left

Summit Cairn on Lame Jake looking back to Diamond and the Brow

I began hiking at 7:40 A.M. and reached the summit of The Brow at 11:30 A.M. I am a leisurely hiker and take my time. I would think that a 3 hour summit is very doable for those who like to speed up mountains. I reached the summit of Lame Jake Peak at 1:00 P.M. and was back at my car at 2:40 P.M.

For more trip reports of other mountains visit

No comments: