The First Winter Ascent of the Finger of Fate by Jacques Bordeleau

Detail summit photo, First Winter Ascent, March 19, 1973. L to R > James Christopher Hecht, Harry Bowren, Gordon K. Williams, Joe Fox.

The first winter ascent of the Finger of Fate was made on March 19, 1973 by James Christopher Hecht, Harry Bowron, Gordon K. Williams, Joe Fox. I was part of the support team which also included Art Troutner and John Platt. I took the color photos. I developed the black and white photos that were shot by the ascent team.

1. Our first day was spent skiing up Hell Roaring road down in the forest, the end of the road being Camp I. Semi-unplanned as it was we hooked up with a Boise contingent of the DFC&FC* on the ski in, boosting our group to seven adventuresome lads. The second morning we were greeted with scenery. The fickle "Finger of Fate" is seen pointing skyward in this view from the outlet at Hell Roaring lake, flanked by the Arrowhead and the Birthday Cake on the skyline. * Decker Flats Climbing & Frisbee Club

Our first day was spent skiing up Hell Roaring road down in the forest, the end of the road being Camp I. Semi-unplanned as it was we hooked up with a Boise contingent of the DFC&FC* on the ski in, boosting our group to seven adventuresome lads. The second morning we were greeted with scenery. The fickle “Finger of Fate” is seen pointing skyward in this view from the outlet at Hell Roaring lake, flanked by the Arrowhead and the Birthday Cake on the skyline. * Decker Flats Climbing & Frisbee Club

2. Looking SW from the Hell Roaring Lake outlet, toward Imogene lake, which is up and around the spectacular canyon beyond. This was my first winter expedition and at this point I remember being extremely impressed with the snow forms on the mountains. Everything about the Sawtooths was magnified by being there in winter. I was 22 years old in 1973 and it may as well have been the Himalayas to me.

Looking SW from the Hell Roaring Lake outlet, toward Imogene lake, which is up and around the spectacular canyon beyond. This was my first winter expedition and at this point I remember being extremely impressed with the snow forms on the mountains. Everything about the Sawtooths was magnified by being there in winter. I was 22 years old in 1973 and it may as well have been the Himalayas to me.

3. The second day we humped from the road end to Hell Roaring lake, where the climbing began. Carrying heavy packs up to high Camp II was tough. The 3rd morning dawned a little funky but cleared up after a while.

The second day we humped from the road end to Hell Roaring lake, where the climbing began. Carrying heavy packs up to high Camp II was tough. The 3rd morning dawned a little funky but cleared up after a while.

4. The North Face of the Finger, showing the "Open Book" route in deep shadows, not a nice climb in winter. It was attempted repeatedly before selecting an alternate plan.

The North Face of the Finger, showing the “Open Book” route in deep shadows, not a nice climb in winter. It was attempted repeatedly before selecting an alternate plan.

5. Gearing up in the morning. Nice equipment, huh? I believe those are my hickory 215 cm Sundins Mountain Skis from REI, with screwed in metal edges, and my surplus canvas + aluminum frame pack. I fondly remember treating the ski bases with Pine Tar so wax would adhere properly. I don't miss doing it anymore though. The Silveretta cable bindings were versatile and enabled amazing winter travel, though stylish turns were difficult. Also my classic aluminum cup.

Gearing up in the morning. Nice equipment, huh? I believe those are my hickory 215 cm Sundins Mountain Skis from REI, with screwed in metal edges, and my surplus canvas + aluminum frame pack. I fondly remember treating the ski bases with Pine Tar so wax would adhere properly. I don’t miss doing it anymore though. The Silveretta cable bindings were versatile and enabled amazing winter travel, though stylish turns were difficult. Also my classic aluminum cup.

5. Gearing up in the morning. Nice equipment, huh? I believe those are my hickory 215 cm Sundins Mountain Skis from REI, with screwed in metal edges, and my surplus canvas + aluminum frame pack. I fondly remember treating the ski bases with Pine Tar so wax would adhere properly. I don't miss doing it anymore though. The Silveretta cable bindings were versatile and enabled amazing winter travel, though stylish turns were difficult. Also my classic aluminum cup.

Gearing up in the morning. Nice equipment, huh? I believe those are my hickory 215 cm Sundins Mountain Skis from REI, with screwed in metal edges, and my surplus canvas + aluminum frame pack. I fondly remember treating the ski bases with Pine Tar so wax would adhere properly. I don’t miss doing it anymore though. The Silveretta cable bindings were versatile and enabled amazing winter travel, though stylish turns were difficult. Also my classic aluminum cup.

7. Soft morning light kisses the powder snow 'Good Morning', as Gordon leads off toward the climb on Day 3.

Soft morning light kisses the powder snow ‘Good Morning’, as Gordon leads off toward the climb on Day 3.

Skiing up from Camp II the morning of March 19, 1973. A cloudy dawn turned into a fine day.

Skiing up from Camp II the morning of March 19, 1973. A cloudy dawn turned into a fine day.

9. A closer look at the Open Book route.

A closer look at the Open Book route.

Ascending the colouir to the West Ridge saddle.

Ascending the colouir to the West Ridge saddle.

11. Looking back down the col toward Camp II, with someone working their way up the track way below.

11. Looking back down the col toward Camp II, with someone working their way up the track way below.

12. Sitting atop the buttress west of the Finger, making a plan, before the climbers go scramble back down to the saddle and head up the West Ridge route.

Sitting atop the buttress west of the Finger, making a plan, before the climbers go scramble back down to the saddle and head up the West Ridge route.

16. Rappelling down the Buttress back to the saddle.

Rappelling down the Buttress back to the saddle.

The Finger of Fate viewed from the buttress, with Hell Roaring Lake snowed over down below, looking east toward the Sawtooth Valley. Our cars are waaaay out there. Big bad Castle Peak on the horizon.

The Finger of Fate viewed from the buttress, with Hell Roaring Lake snowed over down below, looking east toward the Sawtooth Valley. Our cars are waaaay out there. Big bad Castle Peak on the horizon.

15. If you see the rope, follow it upward and you'll notice Gordons' head (center) peering out from a belay position above a pitch.

If you see the rope, follow it upward and you’ll notice Gordons’ head (center) peering out from a belay position above a pitch.

A casual belay.

A casual belay.

Looking down at the saddle.

Looking down at the saddle.

The Buttress west of the Finger, as seen from the Finger. I took up a position on top of the buttress with my Graflex to shoot pics back toward the Finger, while the rock climbers worked on their goal. You see the route up and down the buttress in the disturbed snow.

The Buttress west of the Finger, as seen from the Finger. I took up a position on top of the buttress with my Graflex to shoot pics back toward the Finger, while the rock climbers worked on their goal. You see the route up and down the buttress in the disturbed snow.

Looking toward the Arrowhead, Sevy Peak and the Birthday Cake displayed prominently on the skyline.

Looking toward the Arrowhead, Sevy Peak and the Birthday Cake displayed prominently on the skyline.

West view from the Finger of Fate, Chris coming up.

West view from the Finger of Fate, Chris coming up.

Belay on! View is to the NNW, with Decker Peak the more distant summit on the right.

Belay on! View is to the NNW, with Decker Peak the more distant summit on the right.

Harry leads a nice pitch.

Harry leads a nice pitch.

The lads are now seen lower left if you look closely, watching as Harry leads a line. These are the pics I shot from over on the buttress.

The lads are now seen lower left if you look closely, watching as Harry leads a line. These are the pics I shot from over on the buttress.

Looks like Gordon belaying the next climber up, while Harry pokes around.

Looks like Gordon belaying the next climber up, while Harry pokes around.

Making a leap of faith. There is a large gap from one boulder to the next, which takes a measured leap to do properly. Don't come up short, but really don't overshoot the landing.

Making a leap of faith. There is a large gap from one boulder to the next, which takes a measured leap to do properly. Don’t come up short, but really don’t overshoot the landing.

Harry on the summit block.

Harry on the summit block.

Detail summit photo, First Winter Ascent, March 19, 1973. L to R > James Christopher Hecht, Harry Bowren, Gordon K. Williams, Joe Fox.

Detail summit photo, First Winter Ascent, March 19, 1973. L to R > James Christopher Hecht, Harry Bowren, Gordon K. Williams, Joe Fox.

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