Cuddy Mountain

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A tough snowshoe that finished in full conditions, Cuddy was a lot of work.

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

My brother Tom was supposed to join, but bailed claiming a gimpy leg. So I picked up Michael at his house at 6am and we were rolling, just the two of us. After heading up toward Cambridge in the fog, we were surprised that there was so much snow. There was about a foot on the side of the road at the same elevation as Boise, where the ground was bare. As we left Cambridge and climbed up the highway toward the pass, it warmed up but the snow persisted. So when we got to the turnoff for the trailhead, we were delighted to find tire tracks in the 6" deep snow. Unfortunately, we didn't make it that far because I chickened out when the bottom of the Suby started dragging and with no possible turn-around in view.

So we backed down the road a bit and found a place to turn around at about 4100', parked, and were on our feet a little after 8:30. We walked on packed tire tracks for a bit, then still well below the trailhead we put on snowshoes and were breaking trail.

On the trail

As we went higher, the snow got deeper. As the trail breaking got tougher, I found myself having a discussion with myself. Between the snow balling on my snowshoes and the fatigue remaining from yesterday's trip, I wasn't sure I was going to have the juice to make the summit.

At around 6000', we decided to short-cut up the west face instead of following the trail to the top of the drainage. At this point, it was also quite a bit colder. This was good, because the snow wasn't balling anymore. Just a lot of work because there was around 6" of heavy powder.

As we started up the steep slope, we finally got views of the valley below, as you can see on the right.

Valley below

The hillside was pretty steep- probably averaging a touch over 30°. We discussed how much we were really saving, because the soft snow and steep hillside was a lot of work. Not to mention the holes we kept falling into when the snow was weakly supported by the sagebrush underneath.

But we agreed that although we might not be saving any energy, we were saving time.

And time was important. Note the darkening horizon.

West face

As we neared the top of the ridge, it was getting darker yet. We were concerned that the storm would beat us to the summit. If it did, we would see absolutely nothing on top.

That is the highpoint across the way (a belief not confirmed yet....)

The highpoint

When we struggled into the howling wind on top of the ridge, we were able to positively identify the summit. Oh no! Down and then more up.

At this point, I was completely cooked. As soon as I relaxed the focus of effort that got me to the ridge, I started stumbling like a drunken sailor. So my friend Michael left me in the dust.

Final push

But I did get to the real summit. Eventually.

Michael had been wandering around searching for any sign of the cairn that Dan described in his IdahoSummits trip report. We couldn't find anything, but decided that if we were higher than the cairn, we must also be higher than the summit.

Michael

Wonderful scenery, no?

We didn't tarry: it was blowing like stink and seemed pretty cold.

When we got back down to East Brownlee creek, it was snowing pretty good but at least we were out of the wind. We sat on our packs and had a good lunch, then back down the trail. As we caught bits and pieces of views through the trees, we noted that the entire upper mountain was in storm. Our effort to get up had been fruitful in terms of at least being able to tell where the summit was.

 

Summit

By the time we got back to the car, it was warm, and even a little sunny. This is looking back at our mountain from the highway.

As we drove home, we congratulated ourselves on making 3700' in soft snow in January, even without my brother. Get better, Tom. We need you for trail breaking!

Cuddy Mountain

Mr. Natural Home | 2010 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski