Decker Peak

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Our attempt at the summit of Decker Peak is thwarted by deep snow, but on a perfect day we get in a workout and see some new terrain.

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We left Boise at about 5. It was brisk, about 22°, but nothing compared to the -4° on Banner Summit. By comparison, Stanley was a balmy 10°, thanks to being enveloped in a fog bank. When we got to Decker Flats, it was back down to 4°. But it was calm and the sun was out, plus we could see the summit of Decker.

 

 

Start

The Huckleberry Creek trail is not marked, but it shows on the topo. I had suggested this route to Art and Jerry earlier in the fall, and they gave it a thumbs up. It climbs at a steady grade and was relatively easy to follow, even in the snow. But it was mostly in the shade, which made it cold.

We were able to walk the first two miles or so, then put on the snowshoes.

Hucklebarry Creek trail

We made it to the junction with the Alpine Way trail at 8100' in about an hour and a half. Then a very steep climb on the Alpine Way brought us to 8700' after just two hours. I had heard people complain about how steep this last section of trail was, and thought they were whiners. I was wrong- the trail goes almost straight up the steep ridge.... uggh. And the deepening snow didn't help much.

When the trail finally flattens out, it is at the entrance to the valley below Decker. The faint red line shows our proposed route

Route

Now we were breaking trail; sinking in six inches to a foot. But because there was only a couple of feet total, the small trees weren't fully buried, nor was the deadfall. This meant we were often punching in deep. Similarly, when we crossed the upper talus fields we occasionally fell into holes between boulders. It took us longer to traverse across the valley from 8700' (where this picture was taken) to the saddle at 9000' (the notch between the two ridges) then it had to get from the car to here.

Deep powder

So we changed our objective to just hitting the saddle, the window in the ridge that would allow us to look across at the Finger of Fate. Exhausted, we finally made it there at about 2:30.

Even though it was sunny and calm, we had to put on our down parkas to stay warm while we ate. We noted that the Sawtooths seem to be too cold to form ice- even in the sun, this was all light powder.

Finger of Fate

Here's a closer look at our proposed route up Decker. We saw several possibilities, but the avy conditions might have ruled out some of them- there were two separate slab layers under the powder. Nothing was sliding, but there was evidence of previous action.

 

Route

In any event, we were toast from the hard snowshoeing, and it was 3 o'clock. Time to head home. We got back to the car at 5:15. Tired, but happy. What had taken us 5 1/2 hours to ascend only took 2 1/4 to return.

The drainage under Decker is very pretty, and quite interesting. It includes several lakes. And for the most part, no one visits there. We'll be back.

White Clouds

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski