Monday, November 6, 2017

Boulder and Galena Peaks

Summits: Boulder Peak - 10,981'
Date: 10/28/2017
Range: Boulders
Distance: 11.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~4,300

The previous weekend I stuck to lower elevations and got drenched in a snow mixture near Lowman.  This weekend was dry with highs near 60 near Stanley.  Boulder Peak eluded me in September as a storm was brewing as I headed off of Boulder Basin Peak.  It turned out that I probably could have done Boulder Peak then but this weekend was the perfect opportunity.  I was thinking about Peak 10,185 but when I saw Boulder Peak was practically snow free I turned onto Boulder Creek Road.  With my truck deciding not to go in reverse I took my old Hyundai Accent so I parked just off highway.

It took a well over an hour to reach the trailhead and it would have been nice to have had my truck but the road hiking was easy.  Once at the trailhead, I followed the trail for less than a half-mile before heading uphill.  Although steep, the bushwhacking was minimal and I managed to avoid the worst of the scree.  Once on the ridge I saw the first tower and contoured west around it.   Immediately after gaining the South ridge once again I descended around another tower to the east and worked the ledge system.  Eventually I regained the ridge and stayed on top to the summit.  There I signed the  register and took in the views.  Lorenzo Peak dominates the views nearby with Castle Peak dominating the north view as usual.  I lingered at the summit for a while before heading down.  Knowing this was one of final trips in the high country I took my time on the descent.  The hunter I ran into was shocked I hiked in from the highway.  Last year I did Lorenzo and Silver Peaks from the highway too.

With the excellent conditions, I decided to camp and attempt another peak in the Boulders.  Although the night was chilly, it was still quite warm for  this time of the year.

Day 2
Summits: Galena Peak - 11, 153'
Date: 10/29/2017
Range: Boulders
Elevation Gain: 3,950'
Distance: 7.4 miles

Two weeks ago I did Senate Peak and saw Peak 10,835 and it was on my list.  Unfortunately there is not a lot beta on the peak and all I knew was it can be done from its saddle with Galena Peak.

 I was not originally planning on camping so I did not bring a headlamp and got a late start close to 8:00 am.  At first the going was easy along a road and a trail but I ended up bushwhacking so I crossed Senate Creek to regain the trail once again.  The trail curved back to the west a short time later so I followed Senate Creek on its north side before heading straight uphill on the cliff bands avoiding the scree.  This was a great opportunity to take advantage of class 3 climbing.  Unfortunately  when I reached the ridgeline east of Senae Peak I had to drop elevation from a class 4 gully.  It worked and I climbed the class 3 terrain back up to the saddle.  From the saddle I did numerous class 4 moves to get to th saddle.  With short days and a gnarly time-consuming ridge, I headed back uphill to regain the saddle to do Galena Peak.  I probably could have made it but I would have had to do quite a bit of routefinding.  Other than a few towers on the north ridge, the route was straight forward and I likely grabbed my last 11k summit of the season.  Near the summit I dropped down to a ledge system on the west side of the ridge to avoid an exposed section of the ridge. The views were great and with the sun out I was not cold.  Most of the nearby southern and western slopes were snow free.  After taking in the views, I descended the west ridge of Galena Peak which is obstacle free.   I kind of lollygagged my way down as I knew this would likely be my last trip in the high country for a while.  Depending on weather and avalanche conditions I may be able to do a few peaks above 10,000' this winter.  Eventually I reached the trail and followed it back to my car.

Being late October, I could not have asked for better weather.  It is not very often that I can get above 11,000' this late in the year without snowshoes.  The warm weather did not last and the next weekend the snowline was around 4,000'.  This trip was a great way to cap off the climbing season.

Frozen Lake near Boulder City

Boulder Peak Summit Cairn

Lorenzo Peak from Boulder Peak

Peak 10835

Galena Peak Summit fro.a nearby false summit

Castle Peak from Galena

Galena Summit Selfie

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bagging a Couple of Range Highpoints

Summits: Ryan Peak: 11,714'
Date: 09/15/2017
Range: Boulder Mountains
Distance: Roughly 10.9 miles
Elevation Gain:Roughly 5,000' ( GPS signal was lost for part of the hike)

Just over two years ago I set out to summit Ryan Peak in September 2015.  About 800' below the summit the wind gusts were really high and I was not properly dressed.  Sure I could have reached the summit then but I had decided to turn around.  I would have touched the top hardheaded down.  A month later I would return to the area and did Kent Peak.  The last two times in the area I opted for lower class 3 peaks, South Glassford and Down East Peaks.  Ryan Peak has a reputation for being a lame peak as it is only class 2 so I had avoided Ryan Peak.  I set out to do the Devils Bedstead West but the snowfall looked would have made attempt much more challenging.  Ryan Peak seemed like a better option and I decided to go for it.

With my truck I was able to make it to the trailhead and I followed the trail all the way to West Pass, although the snow covered the trail above 8,000'.  The snow became deeper as I neared West Pass and I stayed just south of the climbers trail for better traction.  With the snow being at least a foot deep in drifted areas, I took any opportunity for class 3 climbing that I could.  Although short, the class 3 action was quite fun with snow and I eventually reached the summit.  While I could have reached the summit two years ago, I was able to enjoy the summit this time.  Although cloudy at first, I had excellent views later on the descent.  North Ryan Peak, Glassford Peak, and Kent Peak were easily visible.  The north face of Kent Peak is quite impressive.  On the way back I passed two other hikers on their way towards Ryan and I was kind of surprised to see them with the recent snow.  The route back was uneventful and once I reached the trailhead I decided to head for the Pioneers.

After arriving at Wildhorse Canyon I realized Rearing Stallion Peak would not be a good choice as the eastern slopes were snow covered.  I decided to spend the night there to contemplate my options.  Boulder Lake Peak looked tempting in the morning from the south but I had not researched the route.  I decided to do a lower peak and opted for the range highpoint of the Smoky Mountains, Saviers Peak at 10,441'.

Day 2

Summits: Saviers Peak - 10,441'
Date: 09/17/2017
Range: Smoky Mountains
Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,055'

It took a while to arrive at the trailhead and the stream crossing of the Big Wood River was dicey even with a high clearance vehicle.  I remembered the stream crossing from Peak 9489 that I did last November, quite deep and cold.  My truck made it and I drove several miles until a downed tree nearly blocked the road.  Not wanting to get stuck, I turned around on the narrow road and parked at the nearest flat spot. 

Shortly after nine I began hiking and noticed a large pipe laying in the road.  I thought my truck was louder and sure enough the muffler and exhaust pie completely fell off.  After putting the exhaust pipe in the bed of my truck, I began hiking and crossed a deep stream before the end of the road.  Fro the road I gradually headed uphill before deciding to get some class 3 action to gain the east ridge of Saviers Peak.  The summit block looked intimidating but was an easy class 3 scramble but roabably the most rugged peak in the Smokies.  Although the summit block looked somewhat challenging, it turned out to be relatively easy as most of the towers were bypassed to the west.  Although tedious, I really enjoyed the hike to the summit.  The views were great of the Boulders, Smokies, and Sawtooths.  It took a while to spot the register buried under some rocks and I signed it and saw a few familiar names.  The hike back was uneventful and I took my time enjoying the views.

This trip would be last snow-free hike in the high country of the season and Ryan Peak was likely my final elevener of the year with the cold weather and seemingly never-ending truck issues.  Overall it was a great weekend with a snowy summit of Ryan Peak and a fun scramble up Saviers Peak.  Luckily I did not get a ticket without a muffler and exhaust pipe on the way back!

Ryan Peak Summit
Kent Peak's North Face
Ryan Peak on the Descent

View from Ryan Peak 

Saviers Peak

Saviers Summit Selfie 

Summit Cairn on Saviers Peak 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mt. Regan Attempt

Summits: None
Date: 10/07/2017
Range: Sawtooths
Elevation Gain: 4,150'
Distance: 15.5 miles

Lately I had been on a Sawtooth binge since it is late in the climbing season and most of the roads are decent since my truck needs a new or a functional transmission.  Last October I attempted Mt. Regan which was practically snowfree but I ended up offroute and then a hailstorm hit.  With the hail and rain I turned around.  This time with the recemt snowfall I knew my percentage of summiting would not be great.

After a 3-hour drive I started hiking shortly before nine. The box at the Wilderness Boundary had ran out of permits but I was not too concerned as I had never seen a ranger in the area. I made great time reaching Sawtooth Lake but my pace would plummet after that.  While the first part of the gully was steep and loose, the rest of the ridge was relatively easy compared to some of  the Lost River Peaks I have done.  Once the route became nearly vertical I headed northeast and found a potential route.  Thinking this was the standard route, I climbed through some class 4+ terrain that was not terribly exposed but a fall would still be quite unpleasant.  Eventually the route became class 5 so I retreated so I was thinking my route was not the standard route.  After a dicey descent I spotted some cairns and had renewed hope.  However the hopes if reaching the summit were shortlived as the snow on an exposed section was just too deep.  I rarely decide to bail on a summit with the peakbagger in me.  This time I could not tell  where there was solid ground while punching through the snow so my decision was quite easy.  There is no need to take an unnecessary risk to reach the summit.  Mt.  Regan will still be there next year and I will not regret making another attempt of Mt. Regan. The hike to and beyond Sawtooth Lake is spectacular and I can see why the lake is so popular and crowded.  The views on the slopes of Mt. Regan were superb and definitely made the hike a memorable one.  Mt. Thompson, McGowan Peak, and other peaks were clearly visible.  I ran into a few other hikers on the descent and made good time reaching my car.  Being October the trail was not overly crowded and this was a great time to visit the area.

Mt. Regan is a difficult peak and should not be taken lightly despite not being all that high.  Under snow free circumstances I would made the summit but this trip just gives me another excuse to visit the area.  I would really like to backpack to Lake 8271 or a nearby lake next year.  Next year I will attempt Mt. Regan once again but not in October.

Sawtooth Lake
View to the south drone the slopes of Regan with possibly Thompson Peak.

Snow on the standard route 

Spectacular View to the south. 
Mt. Regan

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ferguson Peak

Summits:  Ferguson Peak – 11,509’
Date: 09/10/2017
Range: Lost Rivers
Distance: 17.5 Miles
Elevation Gain:  5,600’

        With storms forecasted for Saturday, I decided to attempt Boulder Basin and Boulder Peaks near Ketchum.   With the darkening clouds I only made the summit of Boulder Basin Peak although in hindisght I probably would have been fine.  On my to-do list is Far Away Peak at 11,930’ and I decided to scout out the eastern approach despite knowing I would not be doing Far Away Peak as it name suggests, is simply too far away.  The west approach is shorter but involves a nasty bushwhack which I would rather not repeat after a failed attempt of Paragon Peak a few weeks earlier.  Ferguson Peak looked doable as a day trip and I thought the Swauger Lakes Trail would provide efficient travel.  As I soon found out, Ferguson Peak is a long ways from the trailhead.

         Shortly after 6:15, I drove up Dry Creek Road from my campsite for several minutes in the dark until I came across a river crossing.  With it being dark and not seeing a road across the stream I decided this would be the trailhead despite seeing the road continuing into the stream.  This would cost me quite a bit of time since I decided to stay on the south side of “Dry Creek”.  A game trail was easy to follow for a ways but then it fizzled out.  Once the sun came out, I could see the road continued but figured a couple of extra miles would be fine.  After finding an ATV road that apparently matched the trail on my gps app, I continued onward.  Obviously I did not analyze that trail ahead of time as it quite undulating so I left it and went over a point above 9,300’ before regaining the road and climbing uphill again.  Eventually the road reached Swauger Lakes and I was beginning to wonder if Ferguson Peak was doable.  After seeing the east ridge and face of Ferguson Peak, I headed directly south before hiking westward.  Trying to avoid loose scree, I gained the ridge and contemplated whether to go for a lower 10,000’ peak to the west.  Eventually I gained the ridge and felt like if I came this far, I may as well go for the summit.  Once I gained the ridge, I saw Ferguson Peak about a mile away along the undulating ridge.  Fortunately the ridge walk was relatively easy until the last quarter-mile, where I had to avoid some rock towers to the east.  Eventually I reached the summit shortly around 1:00, about six hours to the summit and over nine miles.  I grabbed lunch and took about 10 to 15 minutes enjoying the views of Mount Breitenbach, Far Away Peak, and numerous other peaks before heading down.  There were only a few signatures on the register and it is easy to see why with the long approach.  On the way up I spotted a gully that looked promising on the west side of the peak.  Although I approached the peak from the east, the gully was still the shorter option as I had to hike south of Swauger Lakes.  The gully was steep with a couple of class 3+ early on but it provided a quick descent back to a fork of Dry Creek.  There was a lot of deadfall but the bushwhacking was not terrible and I eventually reached the trail.  I picked up my pace on the trail and reached my truck a quarter to five.  The stream crossing was deep along the road and I was glad I did not attempt it.

         Although it was a long day with the drive back, I really enjoyed the scenery in this area of the Lost Rivers with awesome views of Lost River Peak, Far Away Mountain, and Triple Peak.  Although doable as a day trip, I would suggest camping at Swauger Lakes.   With the wet and cold weather, Ferguson Peak was probably my final trip to the Lost Rivers this year.  I really enjoy the Lost Rivers despite the abundance of scree and lack of lakes.  Outside of some of the twelvers, solitude is near certain and that was certainly the case with the remote Ferguson Peak.  Next on my list in the Lost Rivers is Far Away Mountain, probably in 2018 with the recent snowfall.

Ferguson Peak from the ascent
Summit Cairn
Summit Block
Summit Selfie 

Ferguson Peak from the Dry Creek Trail

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mt. Williamson and Tyndall

Summits: Mt. Williamson – 14,379’, Mt. Tyndall – 14,017’, Mt. Versteeg – 13,470’, Polychrome Peak – 13,139’, and Mustang Peak (White Mountains) – 10,320’
Dates: 08/30/2017 – 09/04/2017
State(s): California and Nevada
Range(s) Sierra Nevada and White Mountains
Distance: Did not keep track (30+ miles)
Elevation Gain: Did not keep track: > 12,000’

Day 1:
I took off half a day from work and drove to Anchorite Pass on the California border where I decided to spend the night as dispersed camping is difficult to find in California. Looking for my first fourteener, Mount Williamson seemed like a good option as the permit was easy to obtain, and it was not hard too find out why.

Day 2:
Distance: 12.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 7,190’

After spending the night just north of Mono Lake, I picked up a few last minute groceries and my permit in Bishop before driving an hour south to the trailhead.  The last part of the road was slow going but not too bad.  I made the mistake of renting a bear canister to keep the rodents away but they are quite large.  I put most of my sleeping bag in it and it took up most of my pack.  The first mile was easy but after crossing the stream several times the switchbacks began.  After climbing nearly 3,000 feet the trail descended 600 feet before going back uphill.  At Mahogany Flats I grabbed water which seemed like a good idea after another group of hikers grabbed water.  Near Anvil Camp I ran into the same group of three guys with two of them from the Midwest.  I told them I planned to camp near Shepard’s Pass and they had the same idea.  The last few miles were brutal and after reaching Shepard’s Pass I was completely out of gas and ready for dinner.  At 12,000',  I decided to continue to the second lake. After a few steps I would stop to catch my breath but eventually I reached my campsite. It was a good thing I convinced myself the first day that the elevation gain was around 6,000 feet or I would have never made it.  Then I realized I was really out of gas when forgot to put the gas can for my stove in my pack after removing everything to fit the bear canister to keep the rodents away.  After a dry mac and cheese dinner (the food was not one of the highlights of the trip) it was off to bed but it took a while to get to sleep as a thunderstorm rolled in and put on quite a lightning show.  My main reason for selecting Mt. Williamson over Mt. Wilson in the San Juan’s of Colorado was to avoid the storms.  Luckily that storm was the only one I would encounter on this trip.

Day 3
Distance: Five-ish miles
Elevation Gain: 3700’
Summits: Mt. Williamson and Polychrome Peak

I slept in a bit after a long day hiking to the second lake above Shepard’s Pass I slept in a little bit before making my way into the Williamson Bowl at 7:45 am.  Originally I planned to lug my pack into the Williamson Bowl but I did not feel like lugging my pack any further so my campsite would serve as the basecamp for three nights.  Super Dave and Michael lugged their pack into the Williamson Bowl but I was not up for it.  Luckily the route into the Williamson Bowl was relatively easy to follow as I followed a small ridge in between a couple of lakes before walking around the eastern side of one of the lakes to reach the base of Williamson.  The “Black Stain” was easy to spot and led me to the long gully that would reach the chimney For the most part the routefinding was fairly easy until I reached the point where the gully forks.  I knew I had to veer right before the top so I took the right fork but after reading the directions I printed out I quickly realized I needed to continue straight.  There were cairns the whole way and I saw none in the right fork and I read the description of the route and decided to turn around and continue straight.  Sure enough I found more cairns and I followed the gully with some loose rock and ice practically to the top of the ridge.  From there I could spot the chimney I needed to climb and I started climbing a crack just to the left.  That quickly became sketchy so I went directly into the chimney and made it to the top without too much difficulty.  Luckily there were plenty of handholds but a fall would be unpleasant.   From there the rest of the scramble was easy and soon enough I reached the summit of my first fourteener.  The views were good to the west and a little to the north but the clouds were quite low obscuring part of view.  There was a register and I briefly looked at the entries describing the slog on the approach.  The descent through the chimney was not too bad and I took my time on the descent to grab photos and to enjoy the scenery of the Williamson Bowl.  I filtered water at Lake 12,247’ before heading out of the Williamson Bowl.  After grabbing a late lunch and filtering water during the middle of the afternoon I decided to check out Polychrome Peak as a short early evening hike.  Polychrome Peak was only 700 feet above my campsite and quite gradual.  I did some optional class 3 climbing at the top.

Day 3:
Distance: ~5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,130’ according to Strava and probably around 1,000’ in and out of the Williamson Bowl.
Summits: Mount Tyndall – 14,017’ and Mount Versteeg – 13,470’

After waking up and getting a leisurely start around 7:40 am, I decided to take on the north rib of Mount Tyndall.  The northwest ridge is much more gradual and clearly looked like the better option.  However I had researched Munt Tyndall and knew the north rib was passable and had less routefinding.  I thought to myself “here goes nothing” as I made my way uphill boulder hopping.  Some of the slabs looked difficult, but once I reached the ridge it was an easy scramble to the top.  After spending 20 minutes to half an hour taking in the views I headed down.  The descent probably took longer than the ascent on the steep slabs as I stayed on the left side of the rib.  I ran into a hiker who was coming up from Anvil Camp and told him about my route.  Closer to my campsite I ran into another hiker who was just behind his partner headed up Williamson.  After grabbing some bacon bits and dry potatoes at my campsite, I decided to attempt Versteeg.  Once in the Williamson Bowl I ran into a couple of parties on their way towards Mt. Williamson from Anvil Camp.  Both were running late and I told them about the standard route.  They could not see the famous “Black Stain” but I told them it would be more obvious once closer to it.  The south ridge of Versteeg looked daunting but I decided to attempt it anyways since Super Dave did the peak a year ago.  Super Dave was certainly right about the class 4 terrain which would keep my adrenaline going with the exposure, but the handholds were good.  After crossing some scree I went up a rotten gully which was loose and unpleasant.  After climbing out of the gully, the rest of the route was not too difficult and the rest of the climbing was no more than class 3.  The views were great and I could spot numerous peaks in the area including Mt. Whitney and superb views of Williamson and Tyndall.  According to the register, Super Dave was the last visitor to the summit of Mt. Versteeg.  Apparently the fourteeners are the only objective in the Shepard’s Pass area for most hikers.  I took a more direct route down to the Williamson Bowl and it required some class 3 climbing to reach the loose scree.  Once on the scree I made my way down to the lake.  On the way out I ran into one of the groups of hikers I met earlier.  They decided to turn back at 13,900’ since they had a long hike back to Anvil Camp.  I asked them if they would attempt Mt. Williamson tomorrow and they said “we will never attempt this one again!” A little later I heard some shouting and the other group reached the summit of Williamson around 3:20.  While the bowl is tedious and there was a snow patch that I avoided by veering to the left, it was not that difficult to climb out and back down to my campsite as the rock was quite stable. 

Day 4
Summits: None
Distance: 12.3 miles
Elevation Gain: Did not keep track, probably 700’

After a leisurely start, I got started a little before 8:00 am and back to the pass and ran into one of the hikers I saw on their way to Mt. Williamson the day before.  They were successful but his partner had altitude sickness.  I ended up passing a few hikers on the way down and provided route info when asked.  The 600’ foot climb was tiring with a full pack but once above the 9.000’ mark it was all downhill.  At the parking lot there was a group headed to Tyndall.  After dropping off the heavy bear/rodent canister in Bishop, I turned south shortly after crossing the Nevada border.  After almost getting stuck turning around on a rough side road, I found a suitable campsite.  I noticed a small peak on my topo map and I decided to go for it the next day.  While I decided to forgo Boundary Peak as it was too far with a long drive back, the small peak looked easily doable.

Day 5
Summits:  Mustang Mountain: 10,320’
Distance 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,750

After doing four  peaks and the long slog up to Shepard’s Pass, Mustang Peak fit the bill.  I decided to ascend the mountain via the road and then walk along the ridge.  I left the road below Kennedy Point and made my way over Kennedy Point and bushwhacked my way to the summit.  Surprisingly there was a register on this obscure peak.  I took a more direct line down through the thick sagebrush.

This trip was certainly memorable and I really enjoyed the spectacular scenery and camping above 12,000’, except for the storm on the first night.  Mount Williamson was an incredible climb capped off by the chimney and both Mount Tyndall and Mount Versteeg were challenging climbs too.  For a first fourteener, Mt. Williamson was a good choice and was definitely well-earned.  For those looking for a less crowded California fourteener than Whitney,  Williamson is a good choice.  I saw no children or anyone above 60 on the trail (most hikers were likely under 30!.

Super Dave's TR from 2016:

Mount Williamson from Lake 12,247

Mt. Williamson Summit

View to to the north

Williamson Chimney 

Tyndall Summit

Mount Versteeg Summit with a view of Trojan Peak

Lake next to campsit

View towards Shepard's Pass 

Mount Versteeg

Williamson Bowl

Boundary Peak from Mustang Mountain 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mountaineer and Sacagawea Peaks

Summits: Mountaineer Peak – 11,828 feet and Sacagawea Peak - 11,936 feet

Date: 08/19 – 0820/2017

Range: Lost Rivers

Distance: 10.4 miles and 10.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,267 Feet and 4,159 feet

During the summer I typically head to one of the central mountain ranges of Idaho and the weekend before the eclipse was no exception. Like usual, I decided to leave on Saturday morning and come back on Sunday evening.  I thought that the Lost Rivers would be less crowded than the Pioneers or Boulders so I headed out early Saturday morning.  I really wanted to do Sacagawea Pea but I knew it would take too long to get to the trailhead for the eastern approach on Saturday.  My other option was the western approach but that starts at the Borah Trailhead and would be too crowded on the weekend and certainly on Monday.

After waking up at 3:30 am, I drove to Doublesprings Pass Road and onto the West Fork of the Pahsimeroi Road close to where it crosses Rock Creek.  While I could driven further I decided to start walking and took a jeep road for a ways and followed Rock Creek for a few miles until I reached 9500 feet.  Soon I realized I should left the trail slightly earlier as I sidehilled my way southeast to avoid some cliff bands.  The going was slow as the scree was loose but I stayed close to the cliff bands for better footing.  I took advantage of any optional class 3 climbing and eventually worked my way towards the south ridge of Mountaineer Peak.  Once at the ridgeline, I stayed on top of the ridge or dropped off to the side to avoid rock towers.  The ridge was a fun scramble compared to the scree slog to obtain the ridge.  Eventually I reached the top and the views were great, especially of Borah just to the west.  Despite not having much more than 300 feet of prominence, the views and scramble make Mountaineer Peak a worthy objective.  The descent was uneventful and I descended the loose scree back to Rock Creek where I alternated walking next to the creek or slightly above it to the north.  Soon enough I reached my truck.

On such a busy weekend with the Lost Rivers in the area of totality, it was nice to have the whole hike and mountain all to myself.  While Borah was likely busy, Mountaineer Peak was not.  Oddly enough my next objective was the peak directly south of Borah, Sacagawea Peak.

Day 2: Sacagawea Peak – 11,936’

It was a short drive by distance but it took quite a while to get within 0.75 miles of the trailhead where I camped.  I started hiking around 6:40 am knowing I had a long hike ahead of me.  I made good time making it to Merriam Lake.  However my pace would soon slow down just above the cliff bands to the west of Merriam Lake.  The scree was loose and it was the classic take two steps forward and one step back type of terrain in the Lost Rivers.  Eventually I reached the ridgeline and saw the route ahead of me with all of the rock towers in front me.  I thought to myself “this is supposed to be the easier route?”  From my little research I knew the west side of the ridge had easier terrain.  I tried staying on top of the ridge but quickly dropped 50 to 100 feet to the west side of the ridge to avoid the cliffs and towers.  My route worked for a while and I saw a couple of gullies that could lead to the top.  I went up the gully to the right which soon became steep with few handholds.  Luckily I was able to find some good handholds to the right with some exposure and made my way to the summit block east of the summit.  From there it was an easy scramble west to the summit and the views were great.  Surprisingly I did not see anyone on Borah.  The view to the south was superb of Mount Idaho and Leatherman Peak.  While the weather was nice I had a long hike back and a long drive back so I headed down the gully I spotted to the left of my ascent route.  This gully provided a much easier descent and I followed the rest of my ascent route back to Merriam Lake.  There was one group of people above Merriam Lake and I passed numerous hikers on the way back to the trailhead.  Had it not been the eclipse weekend I would have preferred camping at the lake.  Around 3:00 I reached my truck and made the long drive back home.  I probably passed at least 8 other vehicles and had to pull off the road to let them pass.  One of the vehicles I passed was a passenger car that made it all the way to the river crossing and I told the young man to not proceed any further as he was contemplating crossing the creek.  Near Mackay there were numerous signs advertising for eclipse camping.  I had never seen Mackay quite this crowded before.
It turned out to be another great weekend bagging a couple of high peaks in the Lost Rivers.  Despite the eclipse weekend, I never encountered too much traffic despite the area being very busy.  All of the approach roads to the 12ers had numerous cars parked on them.  Fortunately I had both mountains on each side of Borah to myself and Borah was crazy on Monday.


Mountaineer Peak
Mount Idaho from Sacagawea Peak
Mountaineer Peak 
Sacagawea Summit Selfie
Norah Peak from Sacagawea

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gabriel's Horn

Summits: Gabriel’s Horn – 11,641 feet

Date: 08/13/2017

Range: Pioneers

Distance: 5.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,911 Feet

While Gabriel’s Horn is not an exceptionally grueling or exceptionally long hike, it grabbed my attention because it requires a tricky but fun class three climb to its summit.  For the previous two years I avoided the last four miles of the somewhat infamous last four miles of the Wildhorse Canyon Road but with a working 4wd Dodge Dakota Sport (albeit old), I had no excuse to not visit this area of Idaho.

After doing Old Hyndman the day before, I decided to stay in the Pioneers but to venture into the remote western side of Wildhorse Canyon for the first time.  While I had been up the impressive Devils Bedstead East and Angel’s Perch in the past two years, this road was by far the roughest in the Pioneers for me.  Compared to the infamous West Fork of the Pahsimeroi and the lovely Onion Valley Reservoir Road, I did not mind the large boulders in this road.

I started before seven and hiked the road until I reached a clearing described in the Idaho climbing guide.  From this clearing, it was not hard to follow the directions to the southwest ridge of Gabriel’s Horn.  There was no trail but the rock was stable unlike some of the peaks I have done in the Lost Rivers.  Although steep, the hike was not really a slog because of the stable rock.  The southwest ridge looked intimidating but the directions from the Idaho Climbing Guide were excellent.  I alternated each side of the ridge a couple of times and spent very little time on top of the ridge.   With good routefinding the exposure was not bad and eventually I reached the summit.  The summit had awesome views of Hyndman, Old Hyndman, and Big Basin Peaks that I had never had seen before.  It took me a while to recognize some of the peaks from this angle.  I took the same route back along the ridge and a similar line downhill back to the now closed road.  A few years ago the forest service closed the last half-mile of the road.
Gabriel’s Horn was a very cool peak that is seldom visited because of the rough road.  I really enjoyed the ridge scramble and hope to be back in the area soon to do Rearing Stallion and Brocky Peaks.

Gabriel's Horn 
View of ridge near summit

Old Hyndman Peak from the summit
Summit Selfie