Ascent to Lost River Mountain-10600 on 2020-07-18

Climber: Brian Houska

Date:Saturday, July 18, 2020
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Lost River Mountain - 10600
    Elevation:12078 ft / 3681 m

Ascent Trip Report

So the plan was to hit Borah next. Because my wife had to work and couldn't accompany as base camp safety going for a standard route with a well-marked trail seemed prudent. But Lost Rivers seems like it will be the hard to get, and given the noted rockfall hazard of the Super Gully, I thought I'd try the North Ridge route instead. If I'd have stuck to the Borah plan I'd likely be one peak closer to done for the gas spent.

The drive in to Dry Creek was easy enough. Once you get to Howe its 28 miles north to Clyde. Turn west on Pass Creek road which is an excellent white rock bed, marked 35mph and you can easily go every bit that fast. 8 miles later you'll see a sign for Dry Creek & Long Lost Creek. Road quality is better than average - no washboarding encountered. 11 miles later and you'll hit the Dry Creek / Long Lost creek split. From there its 3 miles of standard FS "hope the oil pan clears that" road. This trip I was in the AV so clearance wasn't a concern - though 2WD turned out to be for about 100 ft.

I cant recall if that 3 mile bit is to the end of the road or just to the end of the high ground. I think it's to the end, but the last mile drops down to creek level. If I'm wrong there's another mile to go. I paused and set up camp at a turn-around at the end of the high ground, made dinner, and scouted the downhill section of the road to make sure the van could handle it. Convinced it could, I broke camp at dusk and moved forward to shorten the long approach hike as much as possible.

Within a 1/4 mile I was questioning that decision for a 15ft section of sidewall had sloughed into the roadway right at the most exposed portion of the drive. But there was no backing up because miraculously there were headlights behind me now! So up and over I went and didn't roll the AV into the creek below. Success. I pulled over on the next flat spot to let the headlights behind me past and continued on.

I crossed one shallow tributary and then forded Dry Creek with no problem coming or going. There was one short hump where the rear end of the van bottomed out on the climb, but not badly. That happened both ways. A quarter mile later and I parked the AV on level ground, climbed into the bunk and racked out as dark fell.

I was up at 4 but it was darker than I wanted. No sense mis-navigating at the start of a long (4 miles + ?) approach. Should have moved up sooner to scout. Should have gotten moving at 4. Dozed til 5:30 instead and on the trail at 6.

The walk in was enjoyable - coming back, not so much. I meant to make a journal this time out but failed again at that. I want to say I was at the treeline by 9 but I'm not sure. I know that moving up the scree nearly that first wall was OK but for the last bit footing became poor.

Moving up it got worse. I paused for lunch at the low end of the first gully told myself that now that I'd have a wall to grab onto life would be better. But that was not to be. I stopped at first real move I had to make because I didn't trust the rock. There are other days, other routes, and more mountains - for those who get back safely.

It was noon when I turned around and 4pm when I made the van. The trip out was enlivened by not being able to climb over that sloughed spot in the road. I put chains on the tires and dug out a bit of the sloughed material before the one other vehicle on that end of the world appeared and those nice folks ground-guided me along the outside edge where I could get some traction. I left the chains on until I made high ground.

Lessons learned: #1 the legs and lungs are rounding into shape. I packed a heavy bag because I thought I might attempt a traverse to Breitenbach and overnight up high. Pack didn't feel heavy. Went with the kilt and work boots like last time with no worries other than a bit of backside chafe from a little 5-point scree slide - nothing major though and no skinned ankles or even hot spots.

#2 for this soloist this route is sustained Class 4 due to rotten rock and rotten footing. And at 56 that's too much for me, especially without a base camp safety. Consequently I doubt there will be any traverses for me among the 12ers except maybe from Borah to Sacajawea to Idaho where rock is supposed to be OK.

#3 keep a trail journal with sketches, times, distances, azimuth. also, get an altimeter.

#4 it is good to keep chains, bungee, and a shovel in the vehicle.

#5 trust yourself to leave early but better, get there early and scout a bit.

#6 respect this range and the 12ers. The easy ones are in the bag. Now its harder.

I gotta say that the land nav skills are still ok. But I was sloppy. I should have been more conscientious about map & compass use but I had a decent trail and good handrail in Dry Creek for most of the way. When I crossed the confluence going back I was within 10 yards of where I started crossing it going out just by dead reckoning. Moving up through the trees I used game trails and hit the treeline more or less where I wanted. It was an offhand effort at best. Not the way to operate safely solo.

I did take boots off once to cross the creek going out. Water was knee deep and mwhile there were stepping g stones that I used on the way back, I didn't want wet feet to end things just an hour into the approach. No other crossing gave me pause. There are several, all shallow and most slower. If I'd kept a journal I could tell you how many.

I noted no cairns or blazes. Except one that a hiker I saw from above had stacked along a central portion of dual track - totally unnecessary but I left it.

I used 1 liter of the 3 I carry by the time I turned around. Going back I drank a lot because why carry it on the return? Plus, while I was in shade the whole way out even with a late start, the afternoon was warm, especially with a stout pack. There was still snow but not much so if you're a big drinker, fill up before you leave water as there is plenty on the way, but none when you arrive.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear

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