Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Boulder Basin Road Trip, Boulder Mountains, Idaho

9/26 and 9/27/2015

Ridge East of Boulder Basin
Ben and I met Rick in Hailey and then drove to Ketchum. We had a large pizza at Wiseguy Pizza and then bought shirts at the Elephant's Perch. Ben liked the shirt with the winged elephant on the back. We then drove to the trail head for Boulder Basin right off highway 75 north of Ketchum. This is a popular destination for off road vehicles and mountain bikers. The road to the basin is often rocky and steep and provides enough of a challenge to make the journey interesting while riding an UTV or ATV. Rick brought his decked out Polaris RZR and a Honda Foreman 4X4. The plan was for me to take the Honda up while Ben rode with Rick in the RZR.  This was a first for both Ben and me. I had never really been on a four-wheeler and neither had Ben.

The RZR on the Way to the Basin
Rick and Ben on the Trail
We followed the road into the basin and up to the ghost town of Boulder City. Explored the ruins for bit and then continued up to the large lake.

Not Sure if the Lake has a Name, But it Lies Below Boulder Peak
Here the road/trail continues north above the lake or branches off to the west end of the basin. We took the road to the west end of the basin and decided to spend the night here. We set up camp and were discussing climbing the west ridge of the basin in the morning.

Looking Southeast From high up on the Western Slopes
Boulder Peak is Behind the Slope on the Right
Looking More to the East
 East Ridge From the West Side of the Basin

West End of the Basin

West End of the Basin
I Think this is Peak 11,041
Next, we made a decision to pack up again and see where the road that went above the lake went. Back on the machines, we headed down, over, and up. Set up camp and watched the moonrise and changing light. The total distance traveled was 6.25 miles

Boulder Peak From Camp

Camp Location
Last of the Light, Looking North From the Southern Slopes of the Basin
Moonrise Over East Ridge
The following shots are of the rising moon and changing light. This was a fun time to shoot. All the shots were made with handheld Sony DSC-RX100.

Eastern Ridge

Northern Ridge

Eastern Ridge

Eastern Ridge
Eastern Ridge
Eastern Ridge

In the morning I shot the southern ridge to the east of Boulder Peak and made a few shots of Boulder Peak.

Southern Ridge East of Boulder Peak, Morning Light

Southern Ridge East of Boulder Peak, Morning Light

Southern Ridge East of Boulder Peak, Morning Light

Boulder Peak, Morning Light 
Boulder Peak
We packed up and rode back to the trail head. After putting the Honda back on the trailer, we all got into the RZR and headed up the left fork of the trail to the southwest slopes of Boulder Peak. I wanted to check out the approach and get a good look at a possible route up the mountain. The distance to the mountain from the highway was about 4 miles.

Boulder Peak From Highway 75
Approaching Boulder Peak
Closer. I think going up between the two towers and then the ridge might be a good line.
We drove to the end of the trail and talked about climbing from this spot next summer. Drove back to the trail head, loaded up, and headed for Ketchum and lunch at the Kneadery. As always the Kneadery did not disappoint. We parted and headed home. We saw a lot of country in a short period of time. Having access to a 4X4 would certainly makes long approaches less tedious and allows more time for actual climbing. Will be using the Honda for more exploration in the Lemhis, Beaverheads, and Lost River Ranges.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Climbing Albright and Static Peak, Teton Range, Wyoming


Both Albright and Static Peaks are class 2 climbs in the Tetons. The hike features dramatic views of Buck Mountain, Prospector Mountain, Death Canyon, and the Death Canyon Shelf. Distant views of Fossil Mountain, Mount Bannon, Mount Jedediah Smith, and Battleship Mountain can be seen.

Looking Down From the Summit of Static Peak
Timberline Lake at the Base of Buck Mountain
I Drove over to the Death Canyon Trailhead near the White Grass Ranger Station in Grand Teton National Park Saturday evening. Was on the trail going to Death Canyon at about 7:30 the next morning. The trail is well trod and leads initially to Phelps Lake. You lose about 550 feet of elevation as you drop down to the lake and the canyon entrance. Not a big deal, but remember those 550 feet of climbing on the return trip!

The hike takes you into the steep dramatic granite walls of Death Canyon. I read the canyon gets its name from the fact that a member of the 1876 Hayden Expedition, sent to explore the area, went into the canyon and was never seen again. Can't confirm the fact, but it adds a little mystique to the location.

Much of the trail follows the creek cascading down the narrow canyon. Eventually, coming to the Forks, the trail heading to the Static Peak Divide and then to Alaska Basin veers off to the north. This section is easily identified by the location of an historic cabin. Soon the trail traverses up the northwest slopes of Albright Peak. The back and forth traversing certainly increases the distance traveled but makes the ascent an easy walk.

On the lower slopes of Albright, I ran into a moose family on the trail. The bull wanted nothing to do with me and took off as soon as I came into sight. However the cow and calf were curious enough to stick around. They both just stared at me. I yelled loudly and waved my arms to motivate them off the trail. They were content to just watch the show and eat. I certainly was not a threat and they stayed put. Finally, not wishing to get any closer and wanting to continue on, I decided to climb up and around them on the mountain side. It was only after I was well above them on the slope did they decide to mosey on down in the direction the bull had disappeared.

Cow and Calf on the Trail on the Western Slopes of Albright Peak
Coming out above the saddle on the north ridge of Albright, the trail begins a series of short switch backs up to Static Peak Divide. I bypassed Albright and continued on this trail to the divide.

Switch Backs up to Static Peak Divide
Buck Mountain Behind the Divide
Nearing the End of the Switch Backs, Static Peak Comes into View

Reaching the divide, one can continue over the ridge to the northwest to Alaska Basin or head northeast up the ridge to the summit of Static Peak. The climb to the peak from this point is an easy jaunt.

Buck Mountain From Static Peak 
Albright Peak From Static Peak
East Ridge of Buck Mountain
Prospector Mountain and Rimrock Lake
On the way down, I stopped at Static Peak Divide for a selfie

After descending the switch backs, I dropped to the saddle below the north ridge on Albright. and climbed the face just west of the northwest ridge. I was really lucky this day. The snow on the mountain was about four inches deep and solid enough to hold a step. This made the steep slope very manageable. Near the top, I initially climbed a light class 3 ridge to what I thought was the peak and found myself on the northern false summit. I descended a bit and walked around and up the southern peak.

Summit of Albright Peak
Phelps Lake Below
Static Peak From Albright Peak
Northern False Summit of Albright in Foreground

Fossil Mountain, Mount Bannon, Mount Jedediah Smith
Death Canyon Shelf in Background
The West Face of Buck Mountain and the Trail into Alaska Basin
Battleship Mountain is Just Left of Buck

Although the climbing is class 2, the distance traveled and the elevation gained make this a pretty good workout. The round trip is 15 miles with a total elevation gain of 7,412 feet.

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