Ascent of Boulder Creek Col South Peak on 1992-09-18

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, September 18, 1992
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Boulder Creek Col South Peak
    Elevation:7640 ft / 2328 m

Ascent Trip Report

Yesterday I had decided to go on one last backpacking expedition while out on my trip, and had gotten my pack all ready. Therefore, after waking up early in my motel room in Salmon, ID and eating breakfast, I drove north out of town on U.S. 93 over Lolo Pass into Montana, took MT 473 through Conner, and then, after a wrong turn into a housing development, up the dirt Boulder Creek Road for a mile to the parking lot at its end. I had put on my outdoor clothes back at the motel, so I was able to start up the Boulder Creek Trail into the Bitterroot Mountains very quickly. My plan was to camp out for a couple nights, and climb nearby Trapper Peak, highest in this section of the Bitterroots, and/or a peak on the Idaho-Montana border.

It was a very hot, sunny day out, and my hike was up gradual uphill through thick forest on a well-maintained trail. After a few hours, when I estimated I was about halfway up the wide valley of Boulder Creek, I started looking for a campsite, but had a lot of trouble finding a good one. After many explorations I finally settled on a site in brush, back from the trail, on a bluff overlooking the creek at an elevation of about 5880 feet. Unfortunately, when I pitched my tent the fiberglas hoop that held up the tent's middle section snapped in half, leaving my tent sagging pretty badly. With one of my poles badly bent, too, I needed a new tent, but had to make due with what I had at present.

Once I had set up my camp I ate lunch in a clearing by the side of the trail, hung up my food, and then set back off up the trail, hoping to get to the crest of the Bitterroots at the Montana/Idaho border and back before nightfall. The going was easier without my full pack, but the trail seemed to go on forever. I passed an unsigned trail leading down to Boulder Lake, and then began climbing up to the crest in earnest as the forest thinned out and the trail became steeper and started switchbacking. I heard shots down below me as I neared the crest, and realized that fall was hunting season in most places. I was more scared of hunters than the grizzlies that supposedly roamed the Bitterroots, but to discourage them both I had the bright idea to attach my keys to the back of my pack so that their jingling would alert killer mammals of my presence.

I reached the crest of the range, and after a rest decided to hike south along the state line and maybe climb a knob or peak if one looked easy. I therefore walked on easy, rolling terrain of mixed meadow and forest, over a few humps, until I came to a steep drop-off to the cirque holding Boulder Lake. I couldn't easily go on, and it was getting late, so I retraced my steps, stopping to take a picture of a Montana-Idaho boundary monument and several more of the pretty fall foliage in full majesty in the Boulder Creek valley.

Just before returning to the trail I ran into a group of people, the hunters I had heard shooting below. There were a few young kids with rifles in this group of about five, and they were after mountain goat. I told them I hadn't seen any, wished them luck, and continued down the trail. It was a long but relatively easy hike on the trail back to my campsite, and I kept an eye out for a little cairn I had built to mark where my tent was off in the woods. I found it easily, and then retrieved my stove and food and took a nice long time preparing a nice hot dinner in the field by trailside, away from my tent--in bear country it's best to sleep and cook in different places. After cleaning up and hanging my food from a tree it was starting to get dark, so I retreated to my broken, sagging tent to spend the last night of my trip off away from the road.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3140 ft / 957 m
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3140 ft / 957 m
    Start Trailhead:4500 ft / 1371 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: 1992 - Trapper Peak (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Boulder Creek Col South Peak1992-09-183140 ft / 957 m
2(Attempt) Trapper Peak1992-09-191960 ft / 597 m
Total Trip Gain: 5100 ft / 1554 m    Total Trip Loss: 3340 ft / 1018 m

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