|Jeremy Smith making the summit of Mount Hoopes|
- December 21-22, 2015
- Team: Jeremy Smith
- Mount Hoopes, 10,728, Lemhi Range
- Route: Camp Creek
- YDS: Class 2
- Total Elevation Gain 5,013'
- Total Miles: 13.5
|West ridge of Great Western Peak|
The morning of the 21st was overcast, blustery, and spitting snow. We parked up North Creek by Dave's large garage. Yes, Dave actually lives in the middle of nowhere. One of the reasons I picked this approach was I knew the county maintains the six miles of road from the highway to Dave's house. This provides a convenient way to get to the mountains all winter.
From North Creek, we hiked south to Camp Creek. Following the drainage east, we eventually left the sagebrush and were soon in conifers. Donning snowshoes we continued up the canyon.
|James Helfrich and Jeremy Smith at Camp Creek|
|About the point where James turned back for the day|
Soon the pitch became more steep and the snow much deeper. We labored in knee deep sugary powder. Our plan of making the crest that evening began to fade. Finally, we reached the head wall. If I remember right, we had less than two hours of light and about 1,300 feet of elevation to the crest. To make matters worse, we could not see very far due to the low clouds and light snow. We just did not know exactly where to begin. Jeremy wisely suggested we make camp and wait for morning to make the ascent. At a little over 9,100 feet we dug a platform for the tent and built a short wall around the windward side of the shelter.
We watched the sun set in the west and crawled into our bags around 5:00 P.M. Our bags felt so good, we didn't even crawl out to make dinner. We dozed off and on till morning. Jeremy has done a lot of winter camping and came prepared for the night. He took his pee bottle to bed with him. At about 10:30 I emerged from the tent to relieve myself. In driving wind blown snow in about 10 degrees, I thought I've got to get one of those bottles!
|Fading light in the west|
|Last light on the Lost River Range|
We went up the southwest face of the box canyon. I kept looking back at Great Western. Rick Bauhger told me that he had skied from the summit of Great Western into Camp Creek. I tried to pick out his possible descent line. Snapped a few pics for Rick to revisit his run.
|Great Western Peak from the north|
|Great Western Peak from the north|
|Our first line to the crest through the exposed rocks in the center|
|Looking down into Camp Creek|
|Jeremy making the first ridge to the crest|
Saddle Mountain on right
|The reason for the sacrifice|
|Jeremy on the summit of Mount Hoopes|
|Before the summit|
|The ridge to Tyler Peak|
|Ridge to Daisy Black from Tyler|
|Detail of the above ridge|
|Gloved Peak (center) and ridge to Shrill|
|The gnarly looking Daisy Black|
We knew we would have a near full moon and clear skies to help us navigate, but venturing into unknown space at night always raises the level of concern. My fear was that we would end up in a box canyon and have to climb a steep ridge late at night to make another drainage. I am pretty sure Jeremy was thinking the same. despite our worries, the hike through what I now call the middle fork of Camp Creek was idyllic. The solitude, moonlight, and untouched deep snow combined to create a powerful aesthetic experience.
The hike back required some serious bush whacking. The brush and trees were so dense we had to literally squeeze our way through at times. After hours of sustained effort, I spotted a familiar landmark. we had threaded a needle and found ourselves joining our initial route up Camp Creek. Much relieved, we picked up the pace and headed for Dave's house and the car.
Really, the crux of the trip had to be contending with unbroken snow. The depth varied from about five to thirty inches. Since I lost both baskets on my poles along the way, I had a good idea how deep the snow was. Several times I buried a pole completely with no sign of the bottom. The snow pack was mostly uniform sugar with a slight crust on top. Snowshoes broke the crust and sunk in the sugary snow. We tried a few techniques to increase our efficiency and avoid the effort of sinking and then hefting a shoe covered in snow out of a hole. We tried shuffling along thinking that half of the shoe would not leave the already compacted snow behind. If the crust had been just a bit thicker, this might have worked. The most effective technique was stepping with weight on the heel. The shoe would sink at an angle. Less snow would fall in and the final resting angle was easier to slide up and out of the hole. My AT friends think I am crazy to snowshoe. I tend to agree. Next week I am learning to ski!
|GPS track of Mount Hoopes Trip|