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Ascent of Mount Baird-North Peak on 1992-09-06

Climber: Greg Slayden

Date:Sunday, September 6, 1992
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Baird-North Peak
    Location:USA-Idaho
    Elevation:9722 ft / 2963 m

Ascent Trip Report

After breakfast in my car I left it right where it had been all night and took off up the Little Elk Trail towards Baird Peak. It was very cloudy and overcast out, and occasional light rain fell, but I had my Gore-Tex and wasn't about to let a little damp weather dissuade me. My goal was Mt. Baird, at 10,025 feet the highest mountain in the minor Snake River Range along the Wyoming-Idaho border. I had basically no map, only the description in my Guide to Exploring Idaho's Mountains book.

I hiked uphill for a good long time, passing some poor family that had camped out in tents during last night's continuous rain, and also some hunters, with bows and arrows and out to get elk. It was hard to tell how far up I was getting, since clouds and fog blocked the view above, and I was always thinking I had reached the crest of the range when in fact I was nowhere near it. Once above timberline the trail switchbacked aggressively through fields covered with small amounts of wet snow, and the occasional views down past fall foliage to the Palisades Reservoir below I had been seeing disappeared as I ascended into the fog.

After much longer than I had anticipated the trail started slabbing along just beneath the crest of the range, and I hiked through the snow and fog to make sure I had indeed arrived. I rested, and realized that Mt. Baird was not a good idea, since I couldn't even see which way to strike off, and my boots were getting wet in the snow. Therefore I started back down the trail towards the trailhead.

However, as I descended it started getting clearer and clearer. Although still very overcast, the ceiling lifted slowly to reveal Mt. Baird, a rounded peak, and a small cirque in front of it. There was even a faint side trail leading off into the cirque from a point on the main trail, and I followed that into the pleasant grass and forest floor of the cirque. From there, having lost the trail, I bushwhacked steeply uphill through snowy meadows to a sharp ridge that connected Mt. Baird with its north peak. The place on the ridge I had been at in the fog was on the far side of the north peak.

I could have followed the ridge up to Baird's summit, but I didn't for a number of reasons. It was getting late, the wet snow made hiking difficult, the weather might deteriorate at any time, and the summit ridge didn't look terribly easy. Instead, I decided to save face by at least climbing the north peak. So I followed the ridge, tackling a few tricky sections of talus and cliff, and found myself on the 9,722 foot high peaklet. It was cold, windy, and snowing/drizzling/raining a little bit, and I couldn't stay long, but the views weren't too bad. Mt. Baird itself was just under the clouds, but the Tetons were totally hidden by the weather.

I descended the north peak of Mt. Baird off the other side, since I knew I could pick up the trail near where it gained the crest of the range. This ridge offered some steep sections, but nothing unexpected considering the trail-less wandering I was doing. I finally cut across the snow to the trail, noticing that most of it was melting away pretty quickly, and then just followed the trail all the way back down to my car. It never rained heavily as I went down, so I was able to dry out a bit when I avoided the drops from melting snow in the trees.

Even though I didn't get all the way to the top, this was a nice hike, allowing me to explore a little-known, out of the way Rocky Mountain range. I had climbed up over 3500 vertical feet, too, far from insubstantial.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3736 ft / 1139 m
    Trailhead:5986 ft / 1824 m
    Grade/Class:1
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground
    Weather:Snowing
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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