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Ascent of Borah Peak on 2012-08-02

Climber: Brian Friedrich

Others in Party:Laura Friedrich
Date:Thursday, August 2, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Borah Peak
    Location:USA-Idaho
    Elevation:12662 ft / 3859 m

Ascent Trip Report

The third of three highpoints this week (with Hood and Granite being the other two), so we were well acclimated for this hike/scramble. The route from the parking area is very easy to follow and, with appropriate footwear (i.e., not runners...although we saw many of these), the trail isn't particularly slippery on the dirt and loose rock.

Although the route is informally called "Chicken Out Ridge", this is somewhat of a misnomer because there is not much time actually spent on the ridge proper. "Chicken Out Step" might be a better way to think about the route, because most folks who are going to back off will generally do so at the very quick transition from class 1 hike to (low) class 3 scramble. The class 3 section is brief, but attention-getting (for novice hikers/scramblers), but it can be done as class 2+ with a bit of exposure if you stay a bit to the left. Once atop this 10m step, it looks like the route gets more difficult if you're at all uncertain, but more experienced folks will notice a very easy class 2 route down and to the right around any particular difficulties or exposure for about 20-30m. Following this, the ridge route goes left and turns into a trail below the crest for a while before the final obstacle, which is another short (20m) class 2+ scramble back to the crest and then an 8m class 3- drop down to the snow crossing. All rock in the brief scrambles is very solid, and if you take your time and test holds as you go, it will be uneventful. Crossing the snow will depend greatly on the time of year and the time of day (softer, later of course) you cross. In the later season, a worn trench will form as a result of all the foot traffic (fully there when we went up). After the snow, the remainder of the route is a steep-ish talus path to the summit.

All in all, more experienced hikers/scramblers will find the route to be very straight-forward with little in the way of difficulties. If you're not experienced or just a hiker, you will almost certainly find the first rock step to be the mental crux because you go from walking to using your hands in a somewhat airy spot without any "warm up". Prepare for another two, substantially similar sections after this, as well as the 10m snow crossing. The rest of the route up is simply a steep path (unless you want to scramble some more by following a more direct line up the face -halfway between the snow and the summit - recommended because the rock is relatively firm).

This was one mountain where we really found reading the various trip reports to be wholly unhelpful because of the wide range in experience levels of previous hikers doing the reporting. Clearly you need to be careful, just as on any mountain, but with some background it's much easier than many reports describe. Just don't wear runners and jeans, carrying only a canteen of water...or, at least if you're travelling that way, make sure you're doing it on purpose... :)
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:5331 ft / 1625 m
    Distance:7.5 mi / 12.1 km
    Route:SSE Ridge
    Trailhead:7331 ft / 2234 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3-
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 58 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 43 Minutes



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