Johnstone Peak

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We snowshoe up Johnstone Peak for stunning views of the Pioneers and more

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

This peak had been on my list for a long time, so when Super Dave and John invited me, I jumped at the chance. We arranged for them to pick me up in Hailey because I had been backcountry skiing on Second Peak the day before with Big Dan and Mariel.

When I climbed into the car, I found that George has also come. When you are snowshoeing, the more trailbreakers, the better.

We got out of the car at about 8:30. It was 6°, but no wind. The highpoint in the background was our objective.

Johnstone Peak

After walking the road about a half mile, we put on our snowshoes and started up the toe of the ridge between Bear Gulch and Johnstone Creek. As we climbed, we got out of the inversion layer and into the sun. Between the temperature change and the effort of the ridge, all that arctic gear came off immediately.

Beginning the ridge

As we gained height, we could see the cars and lower Hyndman Creek as it heads off to meet the East Fork of the Wood River. (click to see a bigger version that actually shows the tiny dots that are the cars).

The picture below gives you an idea of the sort of views we were to have- all day long. At this point, we still had another 2000' to climb!

Hyndman Creek valley
Pioneer panorama

We had hoped for firm, windblown snow. We got some. But we also got breakable crust. It wasn't long before we needed to take a break, even with four of us sharing the work. Too bad the weather wasn't better. Here John works on his tan.

John takes a break

Eating was fun, but it wasn't getting us up the hill. So we packed and headed out. That's the upper Hyndman basin just to the left of George's head.

 

George and John pack up

The ridge does some dipsy-doodles, losing a couple hundred feet all told.

Then there is a very steep section (shown later). At the top of the steep section, we looked back and saw a tiny dot moving fast in our tracks. Who was our mystery guest?

 

Dipsy-doodles
After the steep section, the route angle eases, followed by a good-sized false summit. If you watch the map, you can bypass the false summit- we tried, but still climbed more than we needed to. The picture shows the true summit. Note the drop to the right- it goes for about 1000'. The summit, from the false summit

 

Then there is one last push up to one of the best views I can remember. Here Dave is about to top out.

Dave nears the summit

The last hundred feet were quite windy, so we had dressed up for it. We could have just tagged and ran, but the views... oh my goodness, the views. We hung out and took pictures until our hands were freezing.

Summit dorks
I included this shot for Julie and Jasmine to remind them of our trip up Devil's Bedstead West (the snowy peak just right of center). Summit dorks

There were views to be had in all 360 degrees from the summit. There are so many peaks to see, a camera can't do it justice. So you'll have to go see for yourself.

However, this picture is somewhat remarkable because you can see Ketchum and Baldy.

Baldy

Then we snuck down into the lee and basked in the calm sunshine. We had a leisurely lunch, and then our mystery guest showed up: Michael had missed a key email, so had left town later than everyone else. But now we were five for the descent.

We finally had to get going because John was going to fall asleep.

This picture shows almost the entire ridge.

Route
We took it easy on the way down. We were all tired, but more importantly, we just couldn't stop staring. Really. Pictures, anyone? New group
We were wondering what the steep step through the rocks was going to be like. There was forecasting of having to remove snowshoes and posthole down. But the snow let us off easy and we were able to snowshoe even this section. I suppose you would call this the crux, but I think the hardest parts were some of the breakable crust areas. Rocks on the ridge

After the "headwall", we hit the dipsy-doodles.

And then the final toe of the ridge, which proved to be pretty miserable. What had been firm crust first thing in the morning had turned to slurpy soup, making it hard to go downhill.

If you (by 'you' here, I mostly mean my daughter) chase our tracks soon, you will have the benefit of the five of us stomping the slush into submission.

 

Dave's trip report

Cornice on the ridge

Mr. Natural Home | 2008 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski