IdahoSummits Fall outing

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A big group from IdahoSummits.com has a fabulous day climbing in the Idaho's Lost River range.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Foreword to the report:

Each spring and fall, Big Dan from IdahoSummits.com organizes an outing, open to all comers. I joined the spring edition and met some great folks, so decided to also join the fall outing. Then I invited my friend Art from McCall. So that's how the trip started.


Amidst bolts of lightning and a cascade of hail, Art and I soldiered across Idaho in the car, laughing ironically that we were driving in this maelstrom... to go camping!

However, the storm eased as we splashed through the last few mud holes to the new friends waiting at the campground. We quickly set up camp and threw some chops on the grill. After some dinner and a few beers, the group sat around a campfire and told tall tales as the moon came up. Very picturesque. Art and I got criticized for being the first to opt for going to bed, "old men!"

Us old guys were the first up the next morning, which dawned clear. The storm had washed out the smoke, at least temporarily.

We were off at 7:30, except Rob, who would catch up later (and then some). The peak in the background is Octoberfest, our first goal of the day. At this point, I was thinking it would be my only peak that day- I had suffered through West Nile earlier in the week and was not feeling too zippy.

The group heads up the lower ridge of Oktoberfest

As we progressed up the ridge, the day's smoke was already making an incursion. But we were in the sun for the time being. The group was being social- more introductions and regroupings on the move. So we got somewhat spread out. Dan had been slightly behind us, but found a shortcut to move into the #2 position. Meanwhile, Rob had come running by (running!) to be in the lead.

The group and Oktoberfest

The climb up Octoberfest was pretty easy, and we were on the summit together at about 9:30. But Rob took off before I could get the camera out. This is what our group looked like for the remainder of the day.

The picture below shows our traverse, moving down to the saddle between Octoberfest and Hidden, and then from Hidden to Wet to South Wet. From South Wet, we descended back down and exited the valley through the Hidden/Octoberfest saddle just out of view on the right.

The group
Lost River panorama

I wasn't feeling great, but thought I might have another peak in my legs. So I stayed with the group as we dropped off Octoberfest and started up the long ridge to Hidden. Here is Pat, about half way up Hidden with our descent route off Octoberfest behind him. You'll notice the blue skies have given way to smoke.

Pat and Oktoberfest

Although Pat was half way up, he still had lots of Lost River talus ahead of him. The red circle is around a climber, to put the ridge in perspective.

Ridge of Hidden Peak
George and John were a few minutes behind Pat. This picture also gives a glimpse down Wet Creek, which would become our descent route later in the day. Looking down Hidden Peak into Wet Creek

At about eleven, we had all made the top of Hidden Peak. You'll notice that this time, people sat down at the top. The steepness of Hidden had taken a toll.

From the top of Hidden, we glassed Wet to look for Rob, who had "run ahead" of our group on top of Octoberfest. We were shocked, dismayed, and amazed to find his outline on the summit of South Wet. "Run ahead" indeed!

Hidden peak summit

From Hidden, we dropped about 5-600', then did an exciting ridge traverse over to Wet. Again, I've circled several climbers to make them easier to find. Click for a bigger picture.

 

Traversing to Wet Peak
We hit the summit at around noon, but by then my legs were feeling like lead. I was dying for a rest, but decided to keep moving. Therefore, the group summit shot wasn't complete, just those who arrived before me. Summit of Wet Peak
Heading downhill off Wet gave my legs a break, and Pat and I had a good conversation. Descending Wet Peak

The descent off Wet was easy, and the climb of South Wet didn't look bad, either.

However, I was really suffering due to fatigue.

South Wet Peak

But I still had the energy to get a group summit shot on top of South Wet. This was about 1:30.

We knew the weather report predicted a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. And there had been dark clouds circulating the area for some time. Art and I didn't like the looks of it, so we headed out with Pat while the others relaxed. As we descended, Pat told us about being knocked out by lightning. No wonder he left with us.

Summit of South Wet Peak

We hadn't dropped very far off the summit when we heard the first distant thunder. Moments later, we could see the rest of the group following in our tracks.

The descent off South Wet was mostly a gravel and grass slope, and we followed it down to the bottom of the basin. Our original plan was to then move right and gain our route up Octoberfest from this morning (to the right of the picture) and follow that back to the camp. But my dead legs- -plus the dark clouds above- urged us to instead follow the red arrow down into Wet Creek.

Note: During our ascent of Octoberfest that morning, we had watched three bull elk head down the canyon, so we knew there was a way down.

Descending toward Wet Creek

Them elk is smart!

We followed their tracks and moved down this amazing valley. The cliffs on the left belong to Octoberfest Peak; on the right, Hidden Peak.

Talus valley
Below the talus was more, unnhh.... talus. Then an assortment of cliff bands, followed by more talus, and finally the typical Lost River drainage with alternating meadows, talus, and deadfall, with an intermittent trail best suited to elk. Looking into Wet Creek

The lower parts of Wet Creek were different than we would have expected in a desert mountain range. It became verdant and lush, reminding us of an Oregon coast range area. This picture is not at the bottom. At the bottom, it was even greener with the ground covered in iridescent hummocks of moss. But down there at the bottom, the canyon had tightened and storm was building, making it quite dark and not at all photogenic.

Although Wet Creek added a few extra miles, it was stunning and recommended. At the bottom of the ravine, our group splintered into a variety of factions, each following their own line as we seat-of-the-pants navigated back to the car. Most of us made it back just as the rain started at 4pm. However, several must have had problems with their seat pants; we presumed them lost. They finally gained the campground about an hour later, none the worse for the wear. They claimed they just wanted to see more of Wet Creek.

Dinner in the fort

Mr. Natural Home | 2006 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski