Silver Ridge

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Team Geritol checks out Brett's adventure to Silver Creek from last week.

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

Our friend Brett had tried to climb Peak 6985 last week, only to be rebuffed plus a broken hand for his troubles. So Tom decided we should drag a rope and gear back there to give it a go ourselves. From Tom's e-mails, I expected the climb to be 20-25 feet. But the photos Brett had shared didn't give us very much info; we couldn't tell how steep it was, what pro might be needed, or what the surrounding terrain was like. Given all that, we put together a small rack and a 30M rope. And a plan for a different approach.

Meanwhile, Art was just like, "Sure, I'll go. Where are we going again?"

So Tuesday morning we were off under bright skies, starting from the gate on the road to the lookout. This despite the 70% POP and thunderstorms starting at noon.

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Brett told us there wasn't much snow, but we were using a different, higher approach..... well, there's snowshoes in the truck...?

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That's Silver Creek lookout.

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And this is a bit of the southerly view from the lookout. Gorgeous day!

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But our route led north across the ridge. After looking for a moment, we opted for the west side of the ridge, where we found an old tread. Awesome!

Although the tread was faint at times, we were able to follow a fairly continuous trail (possibly intermixed with game trails) all the way across the ridge.

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That rock is Peak 6812.

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Summit shot of Team Geritol.

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From this vantage point, we could see Peak 6985 (in the sun below the horizon and just right of center- zoom by clicking the photo). The GPS said it was only about 1.7 miles distant, but with an 800' saddle between us.

Hmmm. Some clouds building....

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Zoomed in shot of our second peak.

Off to the right, you can see Rice Peak.

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Zoomed in Rice Peak. You can see the lookout. Bird and I skied this one back in 2012. Trailhead

Back to today's adventure, we dropped down the south side (north facing) of the saddle, trying to avoid the snow patches. Then started laboring up the other side. By this point there was some fatigue, and under the broiling sun it seemed hot.

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But the rocky terrain kept us entertained. Trailhead

After weaving back and forth over the ridge top and dodging a few granitic towers, we were finally close enough to really see the possibilities.

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The one I thought most likely goes up from right to left past the tree to the V with the little spot of greenery at the bottom. From there, follow the right side of the V up to the skyline, then work back to the summit. Crack system and chimney for security, but that's a lot more than 20 feet! Trailhead

We were able to easily scramble to the slope below the tree. There's the tree right there.

It took a little easy friction climbing to get to the tree, but on rotten batholith and it's occasional ball-bearing granite, even that can get exciting. Art suggested that the lichen was holding everything together.

Above the tree, there was a short sand dune-filled gully leading to a steep wall under the previously-mentioned green spot. From the gully, that green spot was about 10' above me. No way to protect it. Hard moves to get there that I didn't think I could reverse. And no way to rig a rappel without making it to the top. I didn't like my odds, so after trying a few methods to reduce the chance of cratering, I called it a day. Tom went up to check my calculations, then we both rappelled off.

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After packing it all back up, we headed back to our saddle.

From there we decided to use our thunderstorm emergency evacuation plan (although at that point there was still quite a bit of blue sky). That meant a 1000' bushwhack down the hillside to a road. The bushwhack went surprisingly well, and the road was nice walking without too much elevation change.

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The problem was that the road was contouring around the many ridges and ravines that buttress the ridge we had climbed this morning. This added possibly 3 or 4 miles to our route. In the ensuing slog, the weather really did move in and started to drizzle off and on. We finally succumbed and dug out our rain gear, only to have to remove it a little later in the now-sultry heat.

Finally, there's the back-end of the truck.

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Map

Epilogue: When we got back to the truck, we did the normal fussing to get comfortable for the drive home. Then we started back down the steep road to the Middle Fork and it started raining. By the time we got to the bridge, it was a full-on thunderstorm, guttering buckets or water and pea-sized hail. In the deluge I could hardly see, let alone dodge the myriad chuckholes. As a result of all the juddering, water was coming in around the door seals. But just a few miles farther south the road was again dry and we enjoyed a pleasant, although quite late, drive home.

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