Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Trip Report: Daisy Black, 10,401, Lemhi Range, Idaho. Including Data on the Ridge to Tyler Peak.

Daisy Black, Lemhi Range, Idaho
  • February 15, 2016
  • Team: James Helfrich, James Allen, Jeremy Smith
  • Summit: 
    • Daisy Black, 10,401, Lemhi Range
    • Beta on Tyler Peak
  • Route: Ridge South of North Creek
  • YDS: Class 2-3, route dependent
  • Total Elevation Gain: approximately 4,000 ft.
  • Total Miles: approximately 7 miles

The fog was thick as we drove north of the Little Lost River Highway. Rodents and rabbits were thick on the road. Encouraged by the early February thaw, they darted wildly across the highway. We scanned the right for signs of the turnoff to North Creek. I knew it was marked with a green reflective street sign. Yet, despite the marker, we missed it in the fog. After several minutes of driving, we turned around and drove back south. Earlier, we almost hit an owl swooping over the road looking for a easy meal. Suddenly another creature appeared in the low beam headlights on the road. A Barn Owl suddenly became victim to our early morning travels. We stopped and admired the beautiful bird before continuing on.

We parked short of Dave's house and readied for the hike/climb. The early dawn sky was breaking and looked promising. The plan was to make the rib extending west from the Lemhi Crest just south of North Creek. Once on the ridge it was then a simple matter of following it to the summit of Daisy Black. Our objective was to continue on to Tyler Peak and then return via the same route. 

Hiking up the foothills. James Helfrich in red and me in green. Photo by Jeremy Smith
Surprisingly, the snow was all but gone from the foothills. Making good work of the first few ridges, we soon found the snow and donned shoes to aid our progress. A two inch crust gave way to fifteen inches of sugar. Our forward progress was slowed considerably. This is where having four people was a tremendous advantage. The leader would break until exhausted and then fall to the back of the line to recover. I imagined one or two individuals making the climb and thought how lucky we were to have four. Something to remember when planning winter hikes and climbs.

Myself and Jeremy Smith slogging through sugary snow. Photo by James Helfrich
The most exhausting parts were steep slopes of sugar that slid frictionless through the spikes on the bottom of our snowshoes. Throw snow into the mix of any simple class 2 climb and you have a challenge. 

At one break, we all unpacked fish, that is all except Jeremy. I think he may have felt a little left out of the fish fest. I was inspired by the two James' choice of culinary concoctions on the Big Boy climb.  For the present adventure, I brought canned salmon and fire roasted tomato and olive oil Triscuits. 

We decided to hug the south side of the ridge thinking this line would lead us to the summit of Daisy Black. This route eventually cliffed out. James Allen lead three short pitches of class 3 climbs to make the main ridge and eventually the summit. These short climbs added some needed variety to the preceding long snow slog.

The small cornice in the foreground marks the end of our first route. Climbing the walls on the left led to the summit ridge. Mount Hoopes is in the center, while Great Western in on the far right.
Once on top of the main ridge, we experienced the full force of gale winds. The forecast 40 mph winds in the valley were more like 50 plus mph at 10,000 feet. They were strong enough to blow one off their feet if not compensated for. When the icy spindrift was added to the equation, you knew you were alive when they both hit.

Spindrift blowing from the false summit of Daisy Black. Mount Hoopes in the background
Me taking photos below the summit of Daisy Black. Photo by Jeremy Smith
Spindrift on the ridge to Daisy Black
The crew before the summit
James Allen in blasting spindrift. Photo by James Helfrich
James Allen and Jeremy Smith making the summit of Daisy Black
Once on the main ridge, it was a simple walk to the summit. It was then on to Tyler Peak. The ridge pointed, like the bow of a ship, towards the summit of Tyler. Passage looked to be impossible. Jeremy then down climbed a bit and walked out onto the ridge to check the route.

Jeremy Smith on the ridge between Daisy Black and Tyler Peak
Both James watch intently Jeremy's progress
Next, he scampered back and down on the north side to check out another line. From our vantage point, we concluded that, even if we could get to it, any traverse of the southern slope would be out of the question due to the high probability of a wind slab avalanche.

Wind slab avalanche danger on the southern slope and a perpendicular cliff running down into North Creek on the north side.
While waiting for Jeremy to return, conversation turned to whether a push to Tyler would be prudent. I for one, was feeling the effects of all those vertical steps in sugary snow. Meanwhile, Jeremy had dropped down the northwest slope to check out another line. Finding what he was looking for, he signaled for us to follow. James gave him a big X with his arms and motioned for him to return. Jeremy's body language was one of disappointment. He was totally pumped to summit Tyler and had both the strength and energy to do so. 

Upon his return, he communicated the fact that the ridge dropped a hundred feet or more from the terminal point. He also pointed out a cliff band that ran perpendicular to a traverse across the northwest slope. The band, highlighted in green above, descended into the valley below. He suggested that we could bypass this obstacle if we descended far enough. Wow. There was no simple way from Daisy Black to Tyler. I knew I was not prepared to descend that far, ascend Tyler, descend again, and then make the ridge again on Daisy Black to make our descent. I immediately began searching for another way without major ups and downs. I suggested we could summit Tyler and then drop down the northwest slope to the valley below. I knew it was then a straight shot down North Creek to the car. James voiced concern about the chance of encountering deep slushy snow all the way down North Creek. It was supposed to reach 40 degrees and that was a real possibility. Of more concern was the fact that that a cliff band ran parallel to the ridge to Tyler just above the valley floor. If we were to descend that far and not find a way through the cliffs, we would be in really deep kimchi. The die was almost cast. We decided to content ourselves with a summit of Daisy Black and save Tyler Peak for the spring.

Jeremy shot a short video of the conditions as we descended off Daisy Black. On the way down, the wind picked up and I thought the right decision was made. When we reached Rexburg around 9:00 P.M. I knew the right decision was made. Heading for Tyler would have added at least another three hours to the day. Getting home at 12:00 A.M. totally spent would would not have been a wise choice.

GPS Track 
Gloved Peak and Shrill Peak taken on the way down

I have collected a lot of images of Tyler Peak from the surrounding mountains. The following links provide some visual data about Tyler Peak from the south and north:

Mount Hoopes Climb

Gloved Peak to Shrill Peak Climb

Great Western Attempt

For more information about climbs, visit:

Idaho: A Climbing Guide

Idaho Climbing

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved reading about your climb. Thank you for sharing such great details and pictures. I look forward to an adventure with you too!
Meieli Allen