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Imp Peak in the Madisons

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Imp Peak in the Madisons

Postby Morlow » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:55 am

I'm looking to attempt Imp Peak in the near future. Being new to routefinding, the route described in the Peaks book sounds fun. I just have one question that the book doesn't clear up as far as the route. When approaching from the north, do you follow the NW couloir up to the saddle in the NW ridge and then follow that to the summit block? Sorry for a new topic that just requires a yes or no answer but I did a search and didn't find anything on Imp Peak.
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Re: Imp Peak in the Madisons

Postby peakhugger » Fri Aug 06, 2010 3:37 pm

Morlow wrote:When approaching from the north, do you follow the NW couloir up to the saddle in the NW ridge and then follow that to the summit block? Sorry for a new topic that just requires a yes or no answer but I did a search and didn't find anything on Imp Peak.


Morlow-

After climbing the NW couloir, you will arrive at a notch between the two summits (east and west). Your location will depend on if you stick to the NW couloir or just the north snowfield generally. Once on top, if you head to the East summit, stay on the south side of the summit ridge and do an ascending traverse to the south ridge, then ascend to the summit. Alternatively, stay on top of the summit ridge all the way to the top, but this route is much more difficult (class 4?). There was snow/ice section on this route when we did it and we stuck to the easier of the two options. If you head to the West summit, that is straightforward - just stay on the summit ridge.

Image
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Also, the bushwacking from the springs to treeline on the Northern approach may be especially challenging when there is no snow on the ground; I've only done this route in late spring and skied the couloir. At that time the bushwack was relatively easy, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot of dead fall.

I'd be interested to hear what you run into for snow conditions this time of year.
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Postby Morlow » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:05 pm

Thanks for the tips. So the north and the NW couloir look like they begin at the same spot, they just branch off a little ways up? I'm curious what the snow conditions are going to be like as well. I have an ice axe but not crampons. Hopefully it will be doable without.
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Postby peakhugger » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:16 pm

Morlow wrote:Thanks for the tips. So the north and the NW couloir look like they begin at the same spot, they just branch off a little ways up? I'm curious what the snow conditions are going to be like as well. I have an ice axe but not crampons. Hopefully it will be doable without.


You're correct, both couloirs begin at the same spot lower on the mountain.

Snow conditions ought to be interesting. I'd be concerned about hitting water ice if the snow cover gets thin, otherwise you should be fine with just an axe. I mention thin snow because if you look at satellite photos on GE (including historical ones), it looks like the north couloir holds a lot of snow, perhaps year-round in some years, but the NW couloir looks to melt out at some point each summer. You may find the north couloir your only option on snow. I have no idea what the rock is like in either couloir.

Have a good climb-

ph
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Postby Morlow » Sat Aug 07, 2010 5:33 am

Thanks! Just the info I was looking for. I will see how it looks when I arrive and I will definitely let you know how things go afterward. I'm going to try Koch Peak on Monday and then Imp Peak on Tuesday, base camping somewhere near the Tumbledown Creek/Taylor Creek junction. I'm very excited as this is my first solo backpacking trip.

Edit: I just read the page on Koch Peak and it says that area has the highest concentration of grizzlies in the lower 48! That's a little unnerving going in there solo. Would you advise against solo camping in that area? I could do both peaks as day hikes but I would have to get up at like 3 to drive there and get started by a decent time.
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Postby b. » Sat Aug 07, 2010 10:40 pm

If you are only going to basecamp at that junction, I would just day hike both. That's a pretty easy mile or so along the creek. A couple of weeks ago we tried to do the ridgeline connecting Koch and Imp but got stymied by impassable rock. A week before I hiked about 8 miles up the Taylor Fork alone. I saw one bear and pulled my spray out twice. I wouldn't want to be hiking around up there alone in the dark.
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Postby Morlow » Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:53 am

First of all, thanks for all the advice. Second of all, some friends invited me to camp with them Monday and Tuesday and do Mt. Holmes. I decided I should spend some time with my friends (especially since there are two single girls going), so I am putting the Imp/Koch trip on the backburner (argh!), but I plan to return in October at the latest. If I can talk my hiking buddy into doing them I will do it in September.

So on to another question I had: there is nothing wrong with sleeping in the car at the trailhead is there? I just want to save the two hours of drive time that it would take to get there each morning. My last question is, should you hang your pack/food from a tree or is it safe to leave it in the trunk of a car? My buddy said bears will go for it in your car but I don't believe him. At least I've never heard of a bear tearing a car apart to get to food inside.
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Postby peakhugger » Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:56 pm

Morlow wrote:Would you advise against solo camping in that area?


I probably would feel more comfortable climbing/camping in a group anywhere, but a lack of partners wouldn't scare me off in this country. I've climbed all over the Madisons, both day hikes and multi-day trips in the last 6 years... still haven't seen a bear. Plenty of sign (tracks, scat, etc.), but no live bears. I guess I make too much noise.


Morlow wrote:...I plan to return in October at the latest. If I can talk my hiking buddy into doing them I will do it in September.


This may be a more important time to watch out for bears... berries are ripe, bears are hungry. Just make noise and hang your food out in the backcountry.


Morlow wrote:So on to another question I had: there is nothing wrong with sleeping in the car at the trailhead is there?


No, in fact I would guess camping at the trailhead is done regularly. There's a minimally impacted campsite NW of Taylor Creek at the trailhead, just a stone's throw from the bridge. So bring a tent if you feel like it. The faint climber's trail on the N side of the creek leaves from here as well (to avoid crossing the creek when it's high in May and June).


Morlow wrote:My last question is, should you hang your pack/food from a tree or is it safe to leave it in the trunk of a car? My buddy said bears will go for it in your car but I don't believe him. At least I've never heard of a bear tearing a car apart to get to food inside.


I've never had an issue with storing food in a car, but I have heard occasional stories of bears breaking into vehicles and hard-sided campers in search of food, usually later in fall when food supplies are dwindling. So, if you're back in late Oct, early Nov, minimize food odors and you should be fine. Also wear orange.



As for attacking Koch and Imp in a single trip, I'd probably agree with b. that it would be easiest to attempt as two day trips. The only downside would be missing out on camping in ridiculously beautiful country. It may be possible to establish a base camp at the spring at the top of the Taylor Creek trail and climb the southeast ridge of Koch from there as opposed to accessing via Tumbledown. I've down climbed the drainage east of this ridge and found it relatively easy going, but I'd imagine the face west of this ridge would be more pleasant, traveling up the drainage toward Nutters to around 9400 ft and then attaining the saddle at about 10640 ft.
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Postby Morlow » Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:38 pm

Thanks again Peakhugger. Being the indecisive person I am, I have decided to do this trip after all. I am leaving like right now to drive to the trailhead and will set out at first light in the morning for Koch. I will effectively be doing two day hikes, I will just be sleeping in my car. I don't like the longer approach but even with the extra mileage I imagine I should be near the peak by 10 a.m. at the very latest (hopefully). If things go as planned I will be doing Imp on Tuesday morning.

Anyway, it's good to hear some reassuring words that you can hike through there without seeing bears. You better believe I am going to be screaming my lungs out to keep them away! I'm not one to overreact to fear of bears, since if you practice good habits, you can really minimize your chance of encounters/bad encounters.

I will report how things went when I get back! Thanks for all the tips again.
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Postby Morlow » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:30 pm

I just got back. I tried to sleep in my car last night, that failed miserably. Didn't fall asleep all night, my back seat is just too small. So I did Koch today and reached the summit right at 10 a.m. I didn't start until about 6:15 because there wasn't enough light. I was thinking sunrise was way earlier than that but I guess the days are already getting a lot shorter. I decided after getting no sleep last night to cancel Imp for the time being. I need some sleep!

Anyway the trail was ok, not a lot of scenery along the way until Koch Basin. The climb was pretty easy, even for someone running on no sleep haha. The route was easy and even the scree was pretty solid, mainly due to the mountain not being just a pile of rocks. There was lots of dirt even near the summit that gave solid footing. I would almost call it a walk-up except for about 3 very short parts where your hands are required.

The view from the top was stunning. You get a fantastic view of Sphinx and The Helmet and of course Imp to the south. I noticed with Imp, the NW couloir was the one holding the snow. The N couloir had no snow in it at all. I will try to post a pic of Imp later tonight if I don't crash too early.

Overall it was pretty awesome. I was happy to finally reach 11,000 feet. This was my first longer solo hike so I was pretty intimidated when I started this morning but I didn't see any bears (not surprising considering how much noise I made). I was the first person on the trail this morning and I didn't see anyone until I was about halfway down, and I don't think anyone else was doing Koch Peak today.
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Postby peakhugger » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:24 am

Sounds like you had a good adventure, even if sleepless. Thanks for the report - interesting to hear about the snow on Imp. Perhaps you'll be headed back to tackle that one soon?
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Postby Morlow » Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:56 pm

I will as soon as I have a chance. I'm not sure when that will be but Imp is next in line. I may see if my buddy wants to do it in September some time. I will post some pics later today.

Imp Peak from the saddle below Koch.
[img]<a%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/morlow/4878894873/"%20title="Imp%20Peak%20by%20Morlow,%20on%20Flickr"><img%20src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4139/4878894873_8e7cacf5fe_o.jpg"%20width="900"%20height="600"%20alt="Imp%20Peak"%20/></a>[/img]

Some beautiful mountains near Koch.
[img]<a%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/morlow/4879504836/"%20title="Awesome%20by%20Morlow,%20on%20Flickr"><img%20src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4080/4879504836_31e0dc3177_o.jpg"%20width="900"%20height="600"%20alt="Awesome"%20/></a>[/img]
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Postby peakhugger » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:53 pm

Morlow wrote:I noticed with Imp, the NW couloir was the one holding the snow. The N couloir had no snow in it at all.


Thanks for the photo as well. The snow was as I expected - however, I realized I was referring to N and NW couloirs based on aspect, not location on the mountain. I don't know which way, if either, is correct. Perhaps they would be best referred to as the east and west branches of the north couloir.

Looks like there's still plenty of snow in the west branch, but not enough to ski...

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Postby Morlow » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:26 am

I'm back at it again. I am looking to possibly return on Sunday and Monday and attack Imp then. This time hike in Sunday afternoon and camp somewhere near the end of the Taylor Creek Trail, so I have a super short approach Monday morning.

Concerning the east or west sections of the couloir, are they both similar (minus the snow of course) in difficulty? Meaning, is the east section as easily climbable as the west section? I'm thinking I would prefer to avoid the snow if possible, since I don't have much experience with steep snow. Do you think there is room to climb the west section on scree around the snow?
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Postby b. » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:30 am

You could try the Alp lake approach if you are concerned about snow. You start at the same TH but on the other side of the creek and head up Lightning Creek. The climb is south facing from there, and it might be more on trail travel.
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