Horrendous, Spear, and Fitsum Peaks


Fitsum Ridge includes Mt. Horrendous and The Spear.

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

As part of Valley County Search and Rescue, I spent the morning directing traffic during the Cascade 4th of July parade. So we weren't on our feet until about 2:30. Afternoon shadows were already forming as we walked up the East Fork of Lake Fork Creek.


After about two hours, we were passing the mouth of Idler Creek with the view of Nick Peak.


The trail above Idler Creek sees much less use. And when it crosses the creek, it is through debris from the breaking of the dam at Maki Lake. Dave opted to do this crossing without removing his boots. I felt obligated to repeat the performance. It's a good test of the waterproofness of your boots.


And you might as well keep up the established technique at the next crossing.


Where the trail intersects with the North Fitsum trail, we found a really nice camp spot. It was about 6pm, and the climbing was about to begin. Seems like a good spot to call it a day.


The next morning, we were up early trying to follow the North Fork Fitsum trail. We found a few cairns down low, then were able to follow the tread and GPS. There's Sawtooth across the way.


As we neared the 'summit' (actually, a saddle), the sun was coming up.


The sign was still there. I had to do a reprise of my picture of Art from 2006.


From North Fitsum Summit, we could see Mt. Horrendous on the left and The Spear on the right. Note that The Spear shows on USGS topos as 'Fitsum Peak.' We also considered calling it 'Mt. Heinous' to go along with 'Mt. Horrendous.'

But first, we had to work our way up the ridge on the right to the basin northeast of Fitsum Peak.

Wow- there is still a lot of snow in the basin! Trailhead

To avoid the cliffs seen earlier, you have to go a little higher, then drop down into the basin. The suncups made for slightly treacherous walking.

After a little scouting around, we found a bare spot to set up camp that was only slightly tilted and lumpy.


Then, with much lighter packs, it was time to try our peaks. GPS says The Spear is only half a mile away and 500' higher than us. 30 minutes?

Note: The USGS topo shows this point named Fitsum Peak.


In easy terrain, that would be a good guess for time. However, the terrain dictates.

After some thought (and a closer look at all those cliffs and blocks), I suggested we skip The Spear for now and go for Horrendous. So we did a low traverse to avoid the really bad stuff. Ha!

After a fair bit of work, we found a way to drop off the southeast ridge of The Spear to get this view of Horrendous. One explanation of the name Horrendous is that it is horrendously difficult to get back in here. Today, it was living up to that. Trailhead

Looking back at our path through the cliffs and across some of the endless boulder field.

And remember, Ruby was doing this along with us.

And then, added to the boulders, there was a whole lot of uphill. But we did get to the summit of Horrendous. Trailhead

Summit shot.

Happy (and tired) dudes.


That's far enough!

On the actual summit block, looking down the huge north face.

Dave Beck photo.

This is one of those peak you can see from everywhere, so when you get here you can see everything. The views were absolutely amazing. Here's Lake Thirtythree. Trailhead
There was another peak farther east, and we looked at it. But we were low on water. And low on energy. So after a short detour to better evaluate that ridge, we skipped it. Trailhead

The snowy peak is Fitsum. The plan was to climb the right-hand ridge on our way out tomorrow.

I put a tiny red dot in the photo to show the approximate location of our camp. Click to see the bigger photo.

Lots of peaks here, but of note is the long ridge below the horizon, just left of center. That's the Fitsum-Buckhorn Divide I climbed last summer. Trailhead

I was ready to head for camp, but Dave had spotted a route up The Spear that included a possibly easier path across the boulders. What's to lose?


Dave's route had me deeply in the pain cave, but it worked. There's the summit block of the appropriately named Spear. We went up and investigated it. The landing is nasty, but it appeared to me that after a 5.9 mantle, the remaining moves would be at most 5.5. Throw a sling over the top and lower off. All on a generous layer of black lichen....

But not today.

So technically, it's still unclimbed as far as I know.

We slid our way down an unknown chute to regain our path in, all the while worrying about getting cliffed out, then slogged back up the ridge, eventually gaining our last water source.


We were both pretty blasted. Dave stayed motivated by watching a Platt brother gone over his limit. We rehydrated, ate, and hit the sack early.

Dave got up around 1:30 to make photos of the Milky Way. And then we were up again at 5 catching shots of the sunrise.

Mt. Horrendous. Note the previously-seen summit block. Trailhead

Shortly after 7, we were packed up and heading home. When we got onto the shoulder of Fitsum, we dropped packs and did a snow climb up the narrow ridge. With the summit at the left.

But we were light and packless, so I no longer had my camera. Dave's site should have a few of those (see below).

Note: This is the highest point on the ridge, so we have always called it Fitsum Peak, despite the USGS map naming the lower point just east as Fitsum Peak.... which we think is just a simple error.

As we descended, we grabbed our packs and started back home. This is part of the trail down from North Fitsum Summit. Trailhead



And Dave's blog with most excellent photos, davefaitlemonde (days 1 and 2)
night shots and last day



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