Sunday, October 25, 2015

Climbing Gloved Peak 10,604 and Shrill Peak 10,690, Lemhi Range, Idaho

Peak 10,604
  • October 24
  • Team: Ben
  • Summits:
    • Peak 10,604
    • Shrill Peak, 10,690
  • Route: East Ridge
  • YDS: Class 2
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2,290
  • Total Miles: 3.06
The approach to the mountain pass where we began to hike is 6 miles from the mouth of the North Creek Canyon.

Peak 10,604 is a distinctive peak rising above the foothills of Mormon Gulch and North Creek. It sits just south of Buckhorn Peak. Its profile is easily seen from the Little Lost River Valley. Climbing this mountain locates one in the midst of the southern Lemhi Range. Tyler Peak and Saddle dominate views to the south. Buckhorn, White Bird, and Dome Peak's lesser profiles play out before Sunny Bar, Swanson, and Little Diamond Peak. Once on the summit of 10,604, the ridge to Shrill Peak is a must. The views of the cliffs and towers on the southern face of the ridge and Shrill are simply amazing. Finally,  the hike to Shrill rewards the adventurer with views of Tyler Peak whose gnarly profile beckons to be climbed.

Ben and I drove to the Little Lost River Valley Saturday morning. Heading north from Howe we drove to the North Creek Road. The road is a 6 mile long driveway to Dave's house at the mouth of North Creek Canyon. It is well maintained. We parked along the side of the road and unloaded the 4X4. The previous trip up North Creek Canyon in my Subaru Forester resulted in some body damage and two flat tires. We came prepared this time. Ben drove us quite a way up the canyon. Good practice.

We soon overtook a hunter and his family on the trail looking for game. Saturday was the last day of hunting season. We slowed down and fell a bit behind. Suddenly a shot rang out. We saw they had stopped and the two adults were scurrying up a steep slope. Decided to go around their machines and proceed on our way. 

The trail/road we traveled was is remarkably good condition. It wound up the mountain and eventually would crest the ridge and drop down into Mormon Gulch. Our plan was to climb from its highest point as it rounded Peak 10,604. 

The approach up North Creek and up the slopes of Peak 10,604
We parked and began climbing the southwest ridge of Peak 10,604, aiming towards to small towers. Climbing the steep scree slope without any warm up was a jolt to my body. It was only about a half mile to the summit, but the relentless sliding scree up the nearly 1,000 elevation gain made the sweet approach a memory. Thank goodness for trekking poles. We muscled our way up the mountain on all fours. Climbing between the two towers we made our way to the summit.

Route up Peak 10,604
Ben digging up Peak 10,604

We stacked a few more rocks on the summit cairn and ate a celebratory snack before heading on to Shrill Peak.

Ben sitting on the summit cairn of Peak 10,604

Trekking the ridge to Shrill Peak from 10,604, Ben takes in the view
Southern cliffs of Shrill
Tyler Peak in distance
The walk to Shrill was punctuated with finds of horn coral and another kind of coral resembling groups of large straws. Ben is now pretty particular about what he now brings home. He did find a few perfect horns to add to his collection.

The walk to Shrill Peak

On the summit of Shrill we located the USGS markers. There are two of them? Remnants of the triangulation station are scattered over the summit. Ben retrieved one stick with three remaining cross pieces and some dangling wire. We secured it in the middle of the summit cairn by building the up the rocks around it. We also left a register container. With good binoculars, we hope to see it from the Birch Creek Valley someday.

Ben on the summit of Shrill Peak

On the summit of Shrill looking to Peak 10,604
The northern slopes of 10,604 are dusted with snow
White Bird Peak and Dome Peak in the north
Buckhorn Peak and White Bird over Mormon Gulch
During the return trip to 10,604, the light improved for photographing the cliffs on the south side of the ridge and Shrill Peak. I also, concentrated on Tyler Peak. The mountain was not as back lit and I hoped to document its north ridge and northwest face for planning future climbs.

Looking back at Shrill Peak
Valley to the south

Tyler Peak
Tyler Peak

Tyler and Saddle Mountain
Ben striking a "Walter Mitty" pose on the way back to 10,604
Tyler Peak

Tyler Peak
I was impressed by northwest aspect of Tyler Peak. Not many get to see this peak from this vantage. The north ridge looks incredible as well as those rock formations on the west slope.  The next image was taken while on Shrill and illustrates the nearly impossible line of the east ridge.

Tyler Peak detail
Once Ben and I reached 10,604, we rounded the mountain top instead of going up and over the summit. we knew there was a north ridge and tried to intersect the elevation where the north ridge connected. finding this spot, we dropped down on the sea of scree. This time it was a joy to be on this slope. The rocks were perfect for "skiing" to the bottom. Absolutely some of the best scree skiing to be had!

Thirty-five minutes later, we arrived back at the ruins of the mining operation located at the mouth of North Creek. Spent some time exploring the ruins before heading home.  I took a few photos of some writing on a rock wall identifying the Shrill/Comstock mining operation.

Shrill Comstock

GHS July 1, 1925

Ben wanted to ride the 4X4 the six miles from the canyon to the the highway. I followed behind in the Forester. When we reached the road, he was beaming, saying, "I feel so free!"

We drove back to Rexburg and went to Old Fongs for a General Tso's Chicken dinner.

For more trip reports visit Idaho Climbing

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Climbing Buckhorn Peak, White Bird Peak, and Peak 10,475 (Dome Peak), Lemhi Range, Idaho

  • October 17, 2015
  • Team: Ben
  • Summits:
    • Buckhorn Peak, 10,412
    • White Bird Peak, 10,502
    • Dome Peak, 10475
  • Route: From Uncle Ike Creek
  • YDS: Class 2
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2,290
  • Total Miles: 5.72
The approach from the entrance to Uncle Ike Creek to the place where we began hiking is 3.7 miles.

I have been planning this trip for some time now. Studying the map, I saw the possibility of summiting 4 peaks all connected by gentle cols. Then I read where Rick Baugher had already made the journey to the 4 summits in a single trip. My mental map of the trek fit perfectly on Baugher's described route. The trip was on.

Ben and I climbed the north face of Buckhorn Peak from Uncle Ike Creek. The face is broad and gentle, so I not sure it matters a whole lot where you begin the ascent. We began just east of some massive towers located on the north side of the creek. You can't miss these dramatic formations. We hiked due east into the rising sun. Bushwacking through sagebrush and then forest we climbed to a calcite talus slope. maneuvered through blocky boulders, talus, and a little scree. The climbing was easy, very little sliding. We discovered that this field of rock could be largely avoided by taking a line further to the east. Further west, the slope looked to be composed of smaller scree.

The light was harsh and the mountain backlit, so not many photos were taken on the way to the top of Buckhorn Peak. I took a photo of the range to the north (flat light) and of the west (harsh side light) face of Marshal's Mount near the top of Buckhorn for reference.

Sunny Bar Peak, Nicholson Peak (center distance), Swanson Peak, and Little Diamond Peak

Peak 10,045 (Marshal's Mount)
Near the summit of Buckhorn, I snapped a photo of Ben. Later I learned that he made sure his Milky Way bar was showing in the photo. His way a showing Tom that he remembered to include a product endorsement in the shot, an inside joke.

Ben and the Milky Way bar
On the upper slopes of Buckhorn, I made a photo of where we entered the canyon from the Little Lost River Valley. We came into the canyon past Fallert Springs up and over and down a road that clung to the side of a steep slope. We were riding a four wheeler for the first time. This road was baptism by fire. we both leaned with all we had to keep the machine from rolling. Unknown to us at the time, the best way into the canyon was just a little to the south via a steep sided ravine channeling Uncle Ike Creek. We were much relived to make it to the bottom and find an alternative road for the journey out.

Little Lost River Valley, Fallert Springs, and Uncle Ike Creek Canyon
You can see the oasis of the springs and the road below the springs along the steep slope
Next, we turned east and headed to White Bird Peak. The way follows a gentle saddle between the two mountains. The walk is easy and the views were beautiful. This connecting ridge should be a part of any summit trip to Buckhorn Peak. The final slope up White Bird is just a bit steep but well worth the minimal effort.

Ben Walking to White Bird from Buckhorn
Dome Peak on right

To the south, Shrill Peak and Peak 10,604 tower over Mormon Gulch
Zoomed in shot of, I think, Tyler Peak for reference
This peak is on my wish list
On the top of White Bird, I wanted to begin the line to Dome Peak. Ben was not so sure. He decided to rest while I rushed to tag the summit of Dome and returned back to the summit of White Bird. I lightened my load and took off for Dome. I put the afterburners on and made the round trip in 60 minutes. Might not sound too good, but I was pretty proud for and old guy. The summit on Dome required a few low class 3 moves. The summit ridge is narrow and has considerable exposure on the north side. To avoid exposure, skirt the ridge to the south until you reach the top. Walking the ridge just spices up the climb.

Dome Peak

Dome Peak from East Ridge of White Bird

Summit of Dome Peak looking back to White Bird, and Buckhorn Peaks

White Bird and Sunny Bar Peak
If you look really close you can see Ben standing on White Bird

Retuning to the slope up White Bird Peak
Marshal's Mount in mid-ground
The tip of Swanson Peak, Little Diamond Peak, Shoshone John Peak, and Diamond Peak
 Now for the final peak. We dropped off White Bird and headed straight for the south ridge to the top of Marshal's Mount. Ben was not sold on climbing to the top of another mountain. I was caught in the middle. The summit was so close and attainable. Ben's reserves were about gone after 2 summits, and we had a long hike back to the ATV. I kept pushing us towards the ridge leading to Marshal's Mount. Ben kept dragging his feet, falling more and more behind. I took us right up to the point where we would have to make a decision, and then decided to end the day's outing on a good note for Ben. After all, aren't good memories more important than another summit?

Marshal's Mount in near distance
Dropping off the north ridge of White Bird, looking back at Dome Peak
Marshal's Mount was so close
We dropped off the ridge and into the forest. Bushwhacked east. Crossed several roads in very poor repair. We surmised the road(s) we crossed may somehow lead to a faded trace of a road going up the northwest ridge of White Bird. Many parts, however, were impassable. On the way into the area, we did pass a fork in the road that seemed to climb in this general direction, but the forest service had blocked passage. So, not sure if it is still possible to drive to the top of White Bird.

Ben found the remains of a cabin in pretty good repair and lots of old steel cans of Olympia beer opened with the old style can opener.

I made a few more image on the way back to the ATV. All in all the approach from the Little Lost River Valley was about 5 miles and the hike was about 5 miles. Total elevation gain was about 4,500 feet.

We returned via Uncle Ike Creek and had beautiful fall views along the creek. The narrow canyon near the valley opening was stunning. Another great day in the Lemhis.

West slope of Marshal's Mount

Little Diamond Peak and Marshal's Mount

Swanson Peak and Little Diamond Peak
GPS Track
Ben and I drove back into Rexburg late in the evening. We decided to go to Fongs (Old Fongs) and order a dinner of General Tso's chicken. We were craving protein and the General Tso's chicken really hit the spot.

For more trip reports visit Idaho Climbing

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Climbing Incredible Hulk, Lemhi Range, Idaho

Incredible Hulk Trip Report

Incredible Hulk, Lemhi Range
East Ridge on Left, North Face Flanked by the Northeast and Northwest Ridges

Back in the Lemhis again. This range has a vast variety of mountain experiences. Climbing Incredible Hulk has to be among the best. First of all, the mountain itself is a hulking beauty. The three major ridge lines to the top from the east and north provide a class 3 or above experience depending on the route. The north gully/face, between the northwest and northeast ridges may also provide a route to the top for the intrepid climber. The east canyon, breaking off from Rocky Canyon, is absolutely stunning. I picked to ascend the northeast ridge to take advantage of views of both the north gully/face and the eastern canyon on the way up. I was not disappointed!

The approach to the mountain is very good for Lemhi Standards. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. Ben and I made the trip in my Forester without any problems. We rode many high rut ridges in the road to avoid high centering. Now, some may recall my last debacle in the Lemhis in my Forester and wonder about my above recommendation. The previous North Creek trip resulted in a beat up fender, scratches, digs, and two flat tires in the middle of nowhere. The road to Incredible Hulk is not even in the same ballpark as North Creek. I learned a good lesson during the North Creek trip and hope not to repeat it.

Getting There:

Heading North on Highway 28 from Mud Lake, we turned southwest at 44.32642 N 113.06042 W. The road led to the entrance to Meadow Canyon. Incredible Hulk, on the south, and Meadow Peak, on the north, guard the entrance to the canyon. We drove until the end of the road. There is a gate barring vehicles from further entrance into the canyon at this point. This location puts one literally at the foot of Incredible Hulk. An approach just can't get any better.

We began by hiking up the north gully and traversing a bit to the east to make the ridge line. See GPS tract at the end of report. Once on the ridge it is just a matter of going up. Above the tree line, there are several obstacles. Rock towers and small cliffs stand in the way. None of these present any challenge above easy class 3 climbing. In fact, many can be avoided by dropping slightly off the ridge and skirting the obstacle. Ben just delighted in making the climb more interesting by taking challenges straight on.

Ben Scrambling

The Summit in View

Class 3 Scrambling
Class 3 Scrambling

Looking Down the Ridge Line
Ben Just Couldn't Resist this Tower
Umpleby From the Northeast Ridge of Incredible Hulk
I kept looking over to the ridge in the west. I was gauging what kind of climb it would be and wanted to gather information for others to make an informed decision before attempting this line. Here is a photo of what I consider to be the crux of the northwest ridge. At one point, the angle rises to 50 degrees and stays between 45 and 50 for a sustained stretch. Anyway, here's the photo.

Northwest Ridge on Incredible Hulk
Northeast Ridge Leading to the Summit of Incredible Hulk
East Ridge on Left

Once high on the ridge, the east canyon comes into view. The north face of this ridge is stunning. See above. This was a definite highlight of the trip.

Looking into the East Canyon
Detail of East Canyon
It's not to far to the summit once the east canyon is on left of the ridge. Ben and I found a small cairn at the top and decided that such a mighty mountain deserved a more respectable cairn. We gathered more rocks and built a more substantial pile. We decided to sacrifice a Nalgene for a register and both added our marks in the bottle. Not sure way so many registers have disappeared in recent years. I think registers are incredible historical records and add to the community of Idaho climbers. Hoping for a long life for the Incredible Hulk Register.

Ben Relaxing on the Summit of Incredible Hulk
Yes, he is in his pajamas...Says he forgot to bring pants
Ben Snapped this Photo of Me on the Summit

The summit provides great views of Meadow peak, Umpleby Peak, Bell Mountain, Rust Peak, The Brow, Lame Jake Peak, Diamond Peak, and the Beaverhead Mountains in the east.

Lame Jake Peak, Rust Peak, Diamond Peak, and The Brow over the East Ridge of Incredible Hulk
Just a Bit More Zoomed
Early Snow on the North Faces of Diamond Peak

Looking Down the East Canyon

Bell Mountain

Umpleby Peak
East Ridge of Incredible Hulk

Meadow Peak in the North
Looking to the Beaverhead Mountains
Italian Peak, Huh's Horn, and Scott Peak with a skiff of snow
On the way up, about a half mile from the summit, we found many crystals including a large rock encrusted with crystals. I decided to pick the rock up on the way down. Thanks to Ben's good finding ability, we found the rock and I awkwardly loading it into the top of my pack. I estimated it weighed about 30 pounds. I carefully plodded down the ridge and back to the car with this big rock on my back.

Just weighed it today, It weighs 40 pounds. Had a good workout going down.

Collection of Crystals
Dime for Scale
Forty Pound Crystal Encrusted Rock

Forty Pound Crystal Encrusted Rock
GPS Track of Climb
Drove back to Rexburg and stopped by Great Scott's to rent the video, Incredible Hulk. Ben wanted to  watch the movie after climbing the mountain. It was a good way to extend the experience into the evening. Albeit, the movie was about a 2 star flick.

For more trip reports of other mountains visit Idaho Climbing