Monday, March 25, 2013

Idaho Extravaganza

Breakfast at Pickle's
 It is finally spring break from school, so Kristi and I decided to make a trip back to Idaho for the week.  I knew this would be a great time to get together with some old climbing buddies, so we decided to make a weekend of it.  As is most stories of the mountains what you want to do doesn’t necessarily happen.
After our 12hr drive from Denver to Hailey I was quite tired.  I had now been up for 27hours.  Once we got to Hailey I took a 30minute power nap and unloaded the Blazer for my trip over to the Lost River Range.  I still had about an hour and a half’s drive ahead of me and I wasn’t looking too forward to that.
The original objective was Invisible Mountain, just outside of the town of Mackay, Idaho on Saturday, then King Mountain on Sunday.  We were all up to the TH by 7:30pm or so.  First thing we did was get a fire going because it was frigid, then we opened the cooler of beer.  What started as having a couple beers around the fire turned into many, as we didn’t hit the sack till about 1am.  I’m sure this gives you all a good idea of where this is going.
Mike and LT in the second Cave
I first woke up around 8am to the sounds of blasting winds.  And needless to say a good headache as well.  I finally found the energy to get out of my sleeping bag by 9am.  The others soon followed my lead.  The sky was blue, but the wind was whipping and frigid.  We made a group decision that breakfast at Pickle’s in Arco sounded like the best plan of action.
We decided to eat like men today and each of us got a order of biscuits and gravy and a side of some sort of lumberjack meal.  It was beautiful, and I highly recommend the biscuits and gravy.  We discussed options for the day and settled on a day at Craters of the Moon.  It turned out to be a lot of fun.  We hiked from the parking lot out to 4 of the caves and went exploring.  The hike was about 7-8miles in snowy conditions, but less wind than by our campsite.  We all had a great time, and I think it was the first time any of us had been in the caves.
Kelly Mountain
After making it back to the car we had to come up with a game plan for the next day since it was running on 5pm already.  We discussed options and I was the wuss that didn’t want to freeze camping out in the frigid Lost Rivers, so I suggested Kelly Mountain out of Hailey.  I didn’t get any objections so we headed to camp and packed up.  Before leaving we did drive the whole road up to the base of Invisible.  My Blazer had no problem making it up in 4WD, and it does get steep, so make sure those brakes are up to par.
An hour and a half later we made it to Hailey in our three car caravan.  Had a bite to eat at Mahoney’s in Belleview, then Mike and LT got a hotel room and I headed to Kristi’s folks’ house for the night.  We met at Albertsons at 8am for our adventure up Kelly Mountain.
So, I guess this is where the actual trip report begins. 
We weren’t exactly sure how to approach the mountain and finally decided on the Kelly Creek approach.  From the turnoff of Croy Creek road the road was mostly snow covered.  We drove in a couple hundred yards and decided not to push it since the temps would thaw out the snow and mud.
Summit Brew
After the nice walk down the road we reached the forest service sign for Kelly Creek.  We elected to hike the ridge rather than hiking up the road.  This route was great, you gain the first 1,500ft rather quickly hiking directly up the ridge to point 7,520.  On top of this mound was a large rock cairn with a post.  We saw the humps of the roller coaster ridge ahead of us and Kelly was looking pretty impressive.  The views along the South ridge gives amazing views of the Pioneers, as long as the clouds don’t roll in like they did on us.
The ridge walk was awesome.  I hardly noticed the up and downs, the last hard push up to the summit was steep and time consuming.  The top of the mountain was iced over pretty good, but we were able to get up without any traction.  I don’t have a picture of it, but Mike did a pretty amazing bear crawl to the summit.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t hold for us while at the summit.  Surrounded by blowing snow and clouds, there wasn’t much for views.  We popped open our summit beers and drank the slushy goodness I brought from Colorado.
LT Showing Perfect Glissading Form
We started our decent; the hardest part was the descent of the ice so that was the crux.  After getting off the ice we plunge stepped down the snow till we found good enough snow for a short glissade.  After re-ascending a hump or two we started a traverse down to the road and it was a simple walk out from there. 
The road was softening up by the time we hit it, but on the drive out we were mostly on the snow so it wasn’t much of an issue.  It was a great day out in the Idaho Mountains with two good friends.  Maybe next time we won’t puss out of good climb, but I still had a great time hanging out and re-connecting with Mike and LT.  I say next time the trip is in Colorado and I’ll show you how we climb mountains in tennis shoes.

GPS Track

Date: 3/24/13
Starting Elevation: 5,900ft
Summit Elevation: 8,766ft
Total Gained: ~3,000ft  
Distance: 7.12miles
Time: 4:45moving, 1:50 stopped
Climbing Partners: LT, Mike
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