Monday, January 30, 2017

Nip Benchmark

Inversion means high pressure. Overcast and cold in the Treasure Valley, but sunny, warm and calm in the mountains. Nip Benchmark is not the most rugged peak, but the access is good. Couple that with a weather window and you have the key to getting into the mountains during the winter.

Date: Jan 28, 2017.

Objective: Nip Benchmark 7,373ft.

Stats: Class 2. 4.9 miles, 1,227ft gain, 4:05hrs round trip. Strava track.

Partners: Dan, Carrie, John, Tamara, Mark, Tory, Josh and Jen. Dogs: Vuyo and Shadow

Links: Mark's report. Dan's report.

Gear notes: Snowshoes and sun screen.

Nip Benchmark high point.

Mark, Dan and I had the usual back and forth discussion about which peak to attempt during a much needed weather window. Dan put Nip Benchmark just north of Stanley out there as an alternative to the desert peaks of the Owyhee's we were discussing. For me, the peak didn't matter as much as just getting out did.

We decided on a later start since the overnight low in Stanley was well below zero. I don't recall the exact thermometer reading as I left the comfort of my car, but lets just say it was one or both degrees at 11am.

Get busy moving or get busy freezing!

The initial section was along Nip and Tuck Road. It had been groomed for snow machine use and provided us with the easy ground we needed to warm up. We left the road and used some SnoMo tracks as we headed up the South ridge. It wasn't long before we were all sweltering and shedding layers.

Dan and Carrie leaving the road.

Nip and Tuck Road.

Heading up the South ridge.

We regrouped along the ridge and started the rotation of breaking trail as we headed toward our peak. There was just a short section of downhill before the next uphill section.

Slogging along.

Dan with Nip Benchmark in the background.

Jen and Josh.

The views of the snow covered peaks of the Sawtooth Range were as impressive as ever. Even though the air temp was likely in the single digits, there was not a breath of wind. It felt downright hot.

Sawtooth Range.

Mark and Vuyo in the lead.
Let the hunt for the highpoint commence!

John lead us though the trees and right over the highpoint, hitting every bump along the way just to make sure. He picked a nice spot with a view and dug a bench where the group could rest and enjoy lunch.

View from our lunch spot.

Lunch is served.

Mark and I.

It was great to chat it up with friends both new and old and hear about what everyone had been up to.


Northern Sawtooth's.

After lunch and plenty of pictures, we were discussing the idea of a loop. We would descend the East ridge, eventually getting back to the road just above our vehicles.

Dan and John beginning the descent.

Dan led us down the ridge, weaving though a few stands of trees and some neat rock formations.

Dan leading the way though the rocks.

Carrie makes her way past the rocks.

We punched though to boot top or deeper from time to time on the descent. I was glad to see the snow pack remained stable even late into the day.

Mark following the trail.

Dan had finally had enough of slogging out in front, so I took over and angled down a gully and back to the road.

Gully back to Nip and Tuck road.

One last view.
We would have been in a fine vantage point to view the sunset only a couple hours away.

Sweltering for the time being.

We were glad to be off of the mush and back on the road to our vehicles. In the course of about 5 minutes from the bottom of the gully to the road, the air temp went from sweltering to freezing, requiring us to add a layer for the short walk to our parking spot. Then we regrouped in Stanley for libations and a few laughs before heading off into the evening. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Happy trails!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Night Time Ops on Cervidae

The annual Moonlight to Cervidae hike with the Idaho Summits gang is a great way to close out the year if you can brave the arctic conditions.

Date: 12/31/2016.

Objective: Cervidae Peak, 4,987ft.

Partners: Steve W, aka Delta Operator, aka In The Wild Chef in the 4pm group. Splattski and the 6pm group.

Stats: 5 miles and 1,900ft gain. Class 2. Strava track.  

Gear notes: Cold weather layering system.

Cervidae Peak.

New Years Eve had come, and so did another annual Moonlight to Cervidae trip. The group usually sets out at 6pm, but I had planned to head out at 4 to see the sunset and make it back to town in time for the Reckless Kelly concert. Steve said he wanted to head up at 4 as well so we were the early group, with the main gang heading up at 6.

Low on the trail.

It was sunny and cold. Clear, but not calm. The wind was zipping along and really driving the temperature down; single digits, maybe colder on the way up. 

Clear and cold.

In the Wild Chef right at home in the wild.

As we headed up into arctic conditions, we had to make a few minor clothing adjustments. Steve used his snowshoes, I carried mine. We hiked up as the sun went down. The low angle light and shadow rise were spectacular.

I would have been keen on taking our time, moving just enough to stay warm because it had been a while since I had been out with Steve. We had some catching up to do, but sadly, I was short on time.

Night sky from the summit.

We topped out in the dark, switched on our torches and took in the view. Did I mention it was cold?
Fingers... getting... cold... numb... Hence the lack of pictures.

Dark and cold summit smiles.

After a short time on top, I headed down and Steve stayed put, awaiting the arrival of the rest of our friends on the summit. Shortly after I began my descent, the wind calmed down and it actually felt warmer than it had been on the way up. As predicted, I passed the main group on their way up.

Back down at my car, I realized the folly of my ways. Why I had parked off the road, basically in a snow drift, I have no idea. How I got my car unstuck without assistance, I have no idea. I was a bit behind schedule, late to the party, but I was just glad I made it by the time I did.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Rock Roll Peak

I managed to sneak up Rock Roll Peak before Winter sets in.

Date: 11/6/2016.

Objective: Rock Roll Peak 10,458ft.

Partners: N/A.

Stats: 10 miles, 4,153ft round trip. Class 2. Strava Track.

Gear Notes: N/A.

Links: Summit Post Page.

South Ridge of Rock Roll Peak.

I had been wanting to try Rock Roll Peak for a few years, but some how kept passing on it. I was looking for a quick ascent above 10,000ft before the winter closes in and with the recent high pressure, I figured conditions were about as good as they could get. While driving into the trail head, I couldn't remember how far the road was passable by car. As I came to realize, you can actually drive the whole length if it. I parked way too soon and ended up walking an extra 1.4 miles to the actual trail.

Near the end of the road.

The head of the canyon is a fantastic place with several good camp sites. I missed the actual trail on the way up but was able to find it after a short cross-country hike up a dry creek bed.

As I like to say; the adventure starts when you don't know what will happen next.

Nearing the ridge.

The plan was to hike the trail to around 8,200ft then head for the saddle on the south ridge of the peak. It is important to note that there several lines that will take you to the south ridge from the trail. They all vary in difficulty based on length and elevation gain. There was an obvious Col that would require the least gain, but more time on the trail hiking away from the peak, then back tracking along the ridge. I picked a good looking line and headed up the west slopes.

Looking down the ridge from the false summit.

Reaching the ridge meant getting the awesome views, but it also exposed me to the biting cold wind.


DBE looked quite gnarly.

And, I uh... want to climb that... hu...

Pioneer Mountains.
A bit of snow was present on the route, but not enough to necessitate snowshoes or crampons. That was fine with me because I wasn't packing either.

Upper ridge.

Higher on the ridge, there was just enough snow to make things interesting. Again, not enough to make it a high risk operation or present a mission critical problem.

Rolling along the rocky ridge.

Near the summit.

After the false summit, some careful probing and step kicking, the true summit was near.

Summit cairn.

Peak 10,334.

The ridge heading north to peak 10,334 looked passable but I wouldn't have time to head over there.

More Pio's.

Quite possibly the best thing about Rock Roll Peak is the expansive view that includes the Pioneer Mountains to the south, the Hemingway-Boulders to the north and into the White Cloud Mountains beyond that. To the west and northwest the Smoky Mountains are visible and off in the distance to the east, the Lost River Range can be seen.

Goat Mountain.

Summit pic.

Lost River Range.
I didn't linger long at the summit cairn. I got the mandatory pictures and retreated to a spot out of the wind to get my grub on.


There were options-O-plenty to descend the ridge and regain the trail. I blindly chose a different route down the west face and almost ended up in a quandary of crumbling rock in a steep gully. After some side-hilling and careful stepping, I was back down on the trail, out of the wind and day dreaming of the options for future adventures here.

Baldy in the background.

The Magic Gully.

For future reference I would consider this, the magic gully, to gain or descent the ridge between Rock Roll and Peak 10,334.

Rock Roll Peak from the road.

It was a fine day to be out exploring a new (to me) area and I almost forgot to gripe about the added pedestrian mileage on the way back to the car.

Happy trails!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Warm Springs Point

Checked yet another peak off of Marks list. You can basically drive to the top of Warm Springs Point. You can also run on the road. We chose to do the latter.

Date: 10/29/2016.

Objective: Warm Springs Point.  Elev 6,054ft.

Kid/family friendly? Yes, just shorten the mileage.

Partners: Mark J.

Stats: 12.2 miles 1,380ft in 2.5hrs round trip. Class 1.

Gear notes: Standard long trail run kit.

We took the Centerville Rd out of Idaho city and parked at 3.8 miles, at the junction with FSR 311. Follow 311 south past a couple of junctions and spur roads to the peak. A map/GPS will be handy. The road could be driven to within a very short distance of the peak, but whats the fun in that? You could also park further away from the peak and increase the suffering, err... I mean mileage, as desired. The road was in great condition and made for smooth running. We enjoyed the crisp autumn morning air and ran to our objective for the day. Saw several hunters, but that the norm for this time of year. Pictures below. Happy trails!

We're above the clouds that are above Idaho City. Looking toward Mores Creek Summit.

Mark on the summit.

Summit View.

Fire pit on top.

Summit selfie. 

Looking east.

Looking southeast.

Looking north.