Peak(s):  Fluted Pk  -  13,554 feet
Date Posted:  05/26/2020
Date Climbed:   05/02/2020
Author:  Graham Gedman
 Fluted Peak  

Fluted Peak

11 miles


After struggling all winter to successfully bag any peaks I decided to do an easy trip to ensure success... I headed down to the Horn Creek Trailhead Friday afternoon and began my pack out. I was planning on camping in the Horn Creek basin and hitting Fluted and Adams the following day.

I started packing out around 6pm and by the time it was dark I had camp set up and a fire rolling. I only went two miles from the trailhead, was planning more but I couldn't pass up the site I found. It was surprisingly dry all the way up to 11k' - I was on this trail just 3 weeks prior and was postholing the second I got out of the Jeep.

Finally have some snow-free hiking

Not a bad spot to sleep

I was up early Saturday morning and on the trail by 415am. I almost didn't bring my 6000m boots or snowshoes but was glad I did - maybe 500 yards from my campsite the snow appeared. There was a definitive line between dry and wet; went from easy hiking to 2' of slush in a matter of feet. It had dropped below freezing the night before and thankfully the top layer of slush froze solid making progress easier. For once my snowshoes were helping more than they were hurting. It didn't last long - by 630 the sun was up and it got warm quick. I began postholing pretty bad and started looking for other options. My original plan was to head all the way up the basin and do the SW slopes of Adams. I realized this entailed another mile of postholing so I ditched that idea and cut directly up the south slope of Little Horn in search of some dry rock. I found it quickly and changed my route - head up the south slope of Fluted then do the connecting ridge up to Adams.

First good look into the basin

Looking back at the sunrise

I briefly stopped and tried to fly my new drone. Didn't go so hot, at 11.5k' these consumer drones don't fly very well and I almost crashed it before I could even get a picture. I ditched that idea and kicked myself for lugging the drone all the way out there.

I continued up the mellow western face of Little Horn enroute to Fluted.

Fluted peaking above the ridge

A couple unnamed points and the Fluted-Adams connecting ridge

The basin was littered with slides. The avalanche danger was quite high this weekend and it was obvious - anywhere there could be a slide there was one. I avoided any and all snow above treeline and casually kept up the slopes.

Terrain getting steeper just below the summit

Better look a the avy's

The climb was thus far uneventful. There was some brief scrambling over difficulties heading up to Fluted but nothing to write home about.

Final stretch before summit

Looking back on Little Horn

Just below the summit

Peaking out over the ridge looking toward the summit. "Skin Flute Col" looking dangerous at the moment

Cairn just below the summit. Not sure what route (if any) this is supposed to be marking

I got to the summit around 1030 after a deliberately slow hike up. I had been pushing myself so hard all winter I needed a break, this climb was slated to be a relaxing one.

Big Horn Little Horn

Looking south above the massive cornice protecting the East face

Adams ready to be climbed

Looking north

Obligatory summit selfie

I ate a quick lunch and began down towards the connecting ridge to Adams. I was unsure if this ridge would go but I would at least give it a shot. It looked mean as hell from my perspective on the route up but I thought I could find a way. Upon reaching a good vantage point of this ridge, my opinions changed... It's a pretty gnarly ridge, exaggerated by the pockets of loose snow littered everywhere. I found a good spot to scope out the ridge and began looking for ways up.

The first of the difficulties on the ridge

The first section of the ridge is clearly the most difficult. There are several ribs and ledges leading up to an unnamed point above the SW slopes. I knew if I could get up these ledges it was a class 3 scramble from the UN point all the way to the summit, but this first section would be problematic. There were three ribs ranging from 20' to 50' that were vertical and would involve some class 5. I had no idea how difficult this class 5 was but the only viable route up the highest rib I could see skirted right along the East slope and would most likely be some class 5.waytooexposedforme. Getting up the ribs was one thing, getting down would be a whole nother ballgame... I dropped my snowshoes below Little Horn meaning I would have to reverse the route I took up. This would involve some rappelling or very risky downclimbing, neither of which I was prepared for. Considering this was supposed to be an easy climb I made an uncharacteristically wise decision and bailed on Adams. I look the lazy route instead and sat down for a quick nap. I found a nice little sheltered hole and slept in one of the prettiest spots I ever had.

Pretty cool waking up to this

After thoroughly enjoying my nap, I began my quick, easy and uneventful descent. To make matters worse I was a lone climber on the summit of Adams. I felt a pang of jealousy but sucked it up and headed back. Took a couple pictures on the way down.

Last look into the basin

Right about where the snow began

I was back at camp by 230pm. I was planning another night at camp but at this point I had nothing to do and 6 hours of light left so I called it quits and headed back.

Once back at the trailhead SAR was rolling in full force. Apparently someone had gotten caught in a slide off of Horn Peak. I wasn't able to get any more info from the SAR but there was quite a bit of discussion on it on the forum. I can absolutely see how someone might have thought it safe to glissade down the snowy slopes - the basin below Horn Peak had no evidence to recent slides, contrary to what I saw below Adams. The snow looked innocent enough to me, I can see how it fooled someone else as well.

Overall I'm glad I took an easy trip and finally had some success... But now that it's out of my system I'm ready to go balls to the wall again.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

Fluted-Adams ridge
05/26/2020 13:14
Super fun! Looks like conditions were a bit more forgiving when I had a go at it back in May 2012


05/26/2020 19:49
We weren't up there on the 9th for the Horn Peak avalanche incident, that was on the 2nd, we were up there again on the 9th for an ATV rollover accident on the Rainbow Trail in between the Horn and Macey trails.

Graham Gedman
05/26/2020 20:24
You're right... got my dates mixed up. Couldn't remember the weekend I did this. Just changed the date


05/26/2020 21:02
For the past three months, I don't think most of us can remember what we did last week. When I tried to remember which incident we had at Horn Creek on the 9th I had to go back in the mission files to remember. We've had such an uptick in missions for May that I can't even remember what each one was for, and I was Incident Command for each and still can't remember! By the way, Fluted is one of my favorites, I climbed Little Horn to Fluted to Horn doing a big loop in April or May a few years back and it was so much fun. Had a lot of snow that year and the snow climbing was great fun.

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