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Imp Peak in the Madisons

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Postby peakhugger » Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:32 pm

If you see a single (human) soul up in the Hilgard Basin this time of year, I'd be surprised. Especially mid-week. Keep your bear spray handy, though.

You asked earlier about the ridge just north of the Sentinel Creek Trail. I can't seem to find any photos, but from what I vaguely remember, it shouldn't hold any unreasonable difficulties on the south side. North side should be straightforward (probably easy).



b. wrote:check out the ridge from Echo north and see if you notice any impassable sections.


The photos I have from the top of Imp suggest no impassable sections, but the was a fair amount of snow (mid-June this year). PM me if you want to look at them.
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Postby Morlow » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:15 pm

Yeah I did find one photo of the north side of the ridge (I think).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markdindee ... 524663249/

I believe the saddle in the right of the ridge is where I will come over. We will definitely have our bear sprays on hand at all times. I am really looking forward to this trip, probably more than any yet. Hopefully things work out for a fun and beautiful time.

Also, anyone have route info for Dutchman Peak? It would be after Echo Peak on the schedule if we did it. I doubt if my buddy would want to do it also but just in case. Anything you would not recommend a rope for is a green light for us.
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Postby peakhugger » Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:03 am

Morlow wrote:Yeah I did find one photo of the north side of the ridge (I think).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/markdindee ... 524663249/

I believe the saddle in the right of the ridge is where I will come over.


That's it all right, and the route I'd take if I were you.



Never attempted Dutchman before, so no firsthand route beta. Based on my memory from the summits of Echo and Hilgard, the south side is gentle and would be a quick ascent, but the NW and NE sides are quite steep. If you're attempting it from Echo, I'd probably just continue south from the summit of Echo along the ridge line unless it looked too steep. In that case, the east side of the divide looks a little easier (dropping down to the 10,00ft contour west of Talus Lake), possible nothing more than a few sections of class 3.

b. may have better beta on that area

edit: typo
Last edited by peakhugger on Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Morlow » Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:47 am

Yeah I was thinking we would probably have to drop back down from Echo and approach Dutchman from the east or south. The south ridge of Echo looks pretty nasty in the pictures I have seen but it could be a different story when it's in front of me. Personally I would like to explore it as an option if there is time. It definitely looks like it would be fun if not impassible. It shouldn't take us more than a couple hours to get to Echo from our campsite so I'm thinking there should be some time to explore.
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Postby Morlow » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:09 am

Ok so my hiking buddy called it a season today, told me he doesn't want to do any more. I still plan to do both peaks, I'll just do them as day hikes instead. They are gonna be long but I plan to get early starts (before sunrise). I plan to do Imp on Monday then Echo on Wednesday.

I'm thinking I want to approach Imp from the south then exit via the north couloir, making a loop of it. I would like to approach from the north because it is shorter but it will be so much more straightforward from the south (no bushwacking through forest) that it will likely take around the same amount of time.

With Echo my only concern is I am not sure where you pick up the east ridge. It looks like there could be a few options, the most straightforward which would be to climb up between the mountain and the spur to the east, gaining the small saddle (ridge) there. If I have time and the weather is ok I will explore my options for Dutchman Peak.
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Postby peakhugger » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:19 am

Those will be some serious days... Cold mornings and possibly snow leftover from Thurs-Friday. And it looks like you'll have afternoon showers Mon-Weds. Any reason you don't want to camp out at, say, Expedition Lake and climb Tues and Weds morning? Might be much better weather earlier in the day and less effort overall. If bears are your concern, I'd be more worried about bumping into them hiking the trails before sunrise than alone at a camp. They may be at lower elevations anyway, gorging on berries.

The Imp loop will be an interesting way to go at it if you start at the Taylor Fork trlhd. Bushwacking down to Taylor Fork will be slightly easier than up, but you won't have the benefit of learning it on the way up, obviously. Using the ridgelines in that basin may be the key to an easier bushwack.

Your route for Echo sounds good - I'd stay west of the east spur. The north ridge is also an option; ascending to the ridge due west of Pt 10,290 (or WSW) is fairly straightforward. You'll just have to see what you like when you get there.
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Postby Morlow » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:28 pm

I was mostly concerned with bears, yes. I know the odds of a bear crossing my path at camp are very slim as long as I keep a clean camp, but I find that my mind thinks of worst case scenarios when I am out there alone. I guess the only way to get past fear is to do the thing you fear though! I suppose I'll give it a shot. I'll just bring a book to read. I do want the extra time to make attempts on Sentinel and Dutchman.
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Postby Morlow » Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:42 am

Well I am heading out here soon. I will let you know how it went when I get back!
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Postby Morlow » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:42 am

Well I don't know where to begin to describe my trip, other than amazing. Perfect weather yesterday and today for climbing. I reached three summits, didn't even think about Dutchman after looking at it. It may be doable non-tech but it looked pretty crazy. I did Imp and the unnamed ~10,900 foot peak west of Sentinel yesterday and then Echo today. I decided since the unnamed peak was higher I would just settle for it.

I hiked in on Monday and set up camp on a small hill just west of Expedition Lake. On the hike in I was fortunate enough to see a family of moose on the trail (male, female, baby). They were the first moose I have ever seen, so it was very neat to see them like that in the backcountry. They apparently don't care if you make noise while hiking though; they aren't going to move haha. I tried waiting a bit and they still didn't move, so I just detoured around them. They were huge!

Upon getting about 5-6 miles into the trail the scenery became stunningly beautiful. I was thinking that even before I got to Hilgard Basin this was the most beautiful area I have been to. Mountains like the Tetons are grand and epic, but I think the Madisons are just beautiful. Like something you would see in a landscape magazine. I knew the scene that would greet me in Hilgard Basin from a few pictures I have seen but it was still stunning. They must have gotten some serious snow last week because there was snow as far down the trail as about 8,500 feet and there was a lot of snow on the higher mountains, with Echo being nearly smothered. I met a couple guys that were hiking out, they had been in the Hilgard Basin area for four days and they said that on Friday they had to set up camp on snow. It sprinkled a little bit around 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday but other than that the weather was great.

Tuesday I woke up at 6 a.m. to get ready for Imp and hopefully ~10,900 (that's what I'll call the other peak). Does anyone know the exact elevation of that peak by the way? My map doesn't give the elevation of it. I headed out at 6:45 when there was enough light to navigate by, aiming for the saddle west of ~10,900. The route was easy enough, since there aren't many trees to navigate through. Getting to the saddle was just a matter of climbing a talus field. On the other side I headed north toward Imp, which I might add, has seemingly endless boulder fields. Surprisingly though, the boulder fields were pretty easy to navigate compared to the other ones I have been on so far.

The sky was looking clear when I reached the bottom of the south couloir, and I decided to take the easy route instead of the SW ridge, just to make sure I wouldn't be hindered by weather. Upon starting up the south couloir I questioned my decision, since there wasn't a single sturdy rock to step on the whole way up haha. It was a nightmare getting up but I got down in record time, basically skiing my way down. I reached the summit ridge of Imp and checked out the "class 4" route up the middle. It looked very fun but I didn't think the best time to try some class 4 was when I was the only person for miles, so I opted for the easy route around to the SE ridge, which greeted me with some beautiful exposure, and then the incredible summit (I reached the summit at 9:20, 2 hours 35 minutes from camp). I immediately knew why I craved this mountain so much when I reached the summit. Had I climbed the SW ridge the entire climb up the mountain would have been a blast. I kind of regretted not taking that way since the sky was still clear, but there is always next year. The summit was unquestionably my favorite so far. Awesome exposure on all sides, including a couple of rocks on the summit that actually bridge a gap, so you have a drop beneath you too! After eating lunch on the summit (why not?) I reluctantly headed back down and toward ~10,900.

The climb up ~10,900 was pretty easy, but just interesting enough to make it fun. There are a couple class 3 sections, at least the route I took. It looks like if you wanted to you could probably just traverse on the north side of the mountain around the steeper sections but what fun is that? Plus it would be killer on your ankles. I just followed the west ridge all the way to the summit, which was broad and had no cairn, so I made one. :) I returned back to camp after a very beautiful and successful day.

This morning I left at 6:45 again. I got to just below the north ridge, where I could take a look at the east ridge possibility, but it looked like there was way more snow there than I wanted to deal with so I opted for the north ridge route. The terrain was pretty easy, except I got to the steep stuff at about 8 a.m. and there was still ice or frost on a lot of the rocks, making them very slippery. Even the ground was frozen and slippery in spots. For that reason I would say Echo was definitely the hardest of the three, simply based on it being very slippery. I reached the summit at 8:30, 1 hour 45 minutes from camp. I would have made it faster but I came over the ridge east of the main ridge way too far south, and had to actually go back down and then back up to get to the north ridge, which was quite frustrating. The summit of Echo was basically opposite of Imp's. It was broad and very large, but offered views of some beautiful scenery nonetheless. The sky was literally cloudless except very far off in the horizon, and it was then that I could say the stars aligned for my trip.

I didn't see anyone else climbing on the peaks I did. I had the mountains all to myself. There was a group camping across Expedition Lake from me, with horses and dogs and all that. They were there all three days like me, and looked like they would probably be there longer. I didn't get a chance to talk to them so I'm not sure what they were doing.

I was expecting at least one good rain or storm but there weren't any. I reached all the peaks I really expected to. I got to see some of the most beautiful scenery ever. All in all, the best weekend I've ever had, hands down. I owe Peakhugger a big thank you for giving me some encouraging words to camp it instead of day hiking it. I can't imagine how much less fun I would have had if I had day hiked them. It would have been cool but I wouldn't have been able to really enjoy the beautiful scenery since everything would have been a race to the peak before the afternoon clouds.

I'll post some pics when I get them edited this evening! Now: shower!

Edit: typos
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Postby peakhugger » Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:03 pm

Sweet report. Glad to hear it all went well. No sightings of bears I take it? Any scat/tracks? As for the moose, it's unusual to see a cow/calf/bull group, except during the rut (which should've just started, approx Sept-Oct). It was good that you detoured around them, as a male in that state may be a little defensive.

You may consider adapting your post into a trip report, esp. if your photos came out well. It was a good read. No reports have ever been filed for either peak (Echo is pageless as well). Isn't the summit of Imp grand? Did the view from Echo inspire you to look into climbing Hilgard? That's a classic climb.

Based on the time of year, I wouldn't be surprised if the other group was an outfitted archery trip, but who knows. They could've just been out riding. At least you had the mountains to yourself.

Cheers,

ph


P.S. The peak west of Sentinel is 10,930 ft, according to the USGS quad, so with all the usual caveats about vertical datum, etc.
If you haven't found this resource yet: http://www.mytopo.com/maps/
There's a print option at the bottom, which I use frequently for getting detailed maps of summits and surrounding areas.
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Postby Morlow » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:36 am

Yeah I didn't see any bears. I didn't notice any tracks or scat but I am no expert when it comes to that. I did check my campsite pretty thoroughly to make sure there wasn't any scat or tracks near it, but that was mostly it.

I also thought it was really odd to see the family of moose. I was under the impression that moose were kind of like bears where they don't stay together after mating.

I was actually thinking of doing a trip report also. I don't know how to do one at the moment but I will definitely look into it. I would definitely consider it worth the time to make one.

Hilgard definitely looks like a fun climb! I will put that on the must-do list for next year.

Thanks for the topo link. I will definitely use that as a resource for more info.

I am still working on getting the pictures all online. The internet up here is horribly slow sometimes, and today was one of those times. Usually it's fast in the early morning but it was even slow then today. This time of day I will be lucky to get this posted haha.

Edit: Actually I do have all the pics uploaded to Facebook, but it hurts the quality quite a bit. If you are interested you should be able to see all my pics since they are all public:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id= ... ef=profile
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