Horseshoe Mountain


Horseshoe Mountain sits above a spectacular U-shaped glacial cirque.

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

NOAA predicted a 10% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Good day to start early, but we couldn't leave Friday night. So Dave arrived right at 4am and we were off. We stopped in Fairfield for gas and kept rolling. It was 40° in Arco. When we pulled off the Doublesprings Road at a little after 8, the temp had thankfully dipped to 32°.

We were on our feet at 8:25 and Dave led us through the mahogany band. Then a bit of a steep march up through the fir trees and we hit continuous snow at 8400', where we put on our crampons. Already the valley was filled with bright sunshine. But what is that in the upper right corner? From slightly higher, this is looking up our route. We followed this gully/bowl as it curved to the right.

Looking up the route

After the gully curved, this is Dave working the climber's left side of the gully where the snow was firmer. It wasn't bad in the middle, but crunched in about 1-2 inches. On the sides it was a little loose crystallized snow on a firm base.

Dickey Peak in the background, showing the chute Ralph and I skied a month ago.



The picture below shows the route once we had gained the ridge at about 10:45. The summit of Horseshoe is on the left. First we had to traverse around the bumps on the ridge: the right-most is a little thing, but the next one to the left is a couple hundred feet. Ummm... what happened to our blue sky?

Dave in the gully
Horseshoe Mountain panorama

After the bumps, you climb some more ridge heading south, then veer to the east. This show the ridge ater it turns, where it gets interesting. Note the angles to the slopes, the cornices, and the little rock steps. We tried to make sense of it, but especially in the flat light it was hard to see a line.

This was about 11:45. No sign of thunderstorms, but it was snowing off-and-on, and occasionally quite windy. We put on shells and warm gloves, wondering how we were going to get across this.


The ridge section

So we just jumped in. Carefully. For most of the obstacles, we just went up and over.

The "Dear Tom Lopez book" calls this Class 3.

IdahoKid on SummitPost says:

"This terrain would be class III if it were on stable rock, however, this is some of the most rotten terrain in the west and therefore the difficulty is class 4."

Whatever. A couple hundred yards of that, then a little more uphill trudging on a narrow ridge in deteriorating snow conditions, and the summit was near.

Dave on upper ridge

This is looking south at Al West Peak, the flattish, dark ridge in the foreground. Al West was the peak we climbed during the 2009 IdahoSummits fall outing.

Al West Peak

This is looking more northerly at Doublesprings Peak, and the ridge connecting Doublesprings with Horseshoe. We had been considering trying this ridge. We think it will go, but the combination of weather, increasing temperature, snow condition, fatigue, and the late hour made us decide otherwise. We feel strongly it will go, and make for a really cool ridge walk and loop.

If you are the climber to do it, ask me and I will supply close-up photos.


Doublesprings ridge

Although we had decided to settle for just one summit today, we were quite happy with the day's accomplishment.

For "splattski" photo fans, click for the bigger image and look at my sunglasses: a 'double-splattski'!

Then we got to reverse the tricky ridge bits. However, we now knew what to expect, plus the light was much better so we could see how the slopes lay. Click for the bigger image and you can see our footsteps. Footsteps n the ridge

After we got off the tricky ridge, we had a long, leisurely lunch. After all, this is May and it was quite warm (despite the snow squalls seen in some previous pictures). Then when we started moving, our crampons were balling up ferociously, like 6" deep and 10 pounds per foot. We were very glad we had turned back when we did.

After a brief trudge across the ridge, we were back to our bowl/gully, where we dropped about 2000' in roughly 5 minutes. It took roughly 10 minutes to get the feeling back in the butt cheeks.

SuperDave's trip report


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