Ascent of Borah Peak on 2012-06-27

Climber: Walter Blume

Others in Party:Kevin O'Laughlin
Date:Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Borah Peak
    Elevation:12662 ft / 3859 m

Ascent Trip Report

Arose at 4 am and attempted to make oatmeal and coffee with a balky stove, temperature was about 30 degrees. My climbing buddy Kevin had been shivering all night, so he sat in the car for a few minutes attempting to warm up, we decided later that he must have had a fever. Departing finally at 4:58 am, about an hour later than planned. We walked past another highpointer, Robert, who hadn't yet departed, but assumed he would catch us, as were moving slowly.

The first 2000 feet of elevation gain are up a draw in trees. We proceeded slowly and near the top of treeline we could look back and see Robert gaining on us. At this point the trail gets even steeper as one ascends towards the ridge. After this brutal ascent to the top of the ridge, the trail levels out for a while and heads to the right and east towards Chicken-Out Ridge. Robert caught up to us at this point, and I followed his excellent suggestion of caching a water bottle at this point, as my pack was feeling heavy and the altitude was starting to slow me down. My climbing partner Kevin had been feeling very sick coming up to this point, and also was suffering from a nosebleed. With the release of the water bottle, and the fact that the trail leveled out for a while, I began to feel stronger. Kevin also began recovering and feeling better at this point. We headed east towards Chicken-Out Ridge. After about a mile, the trail disappears and the climb becomes a Class 3 scramble. We proceeded along to the right of the top, rather than going atop the ridge and found the going easier than Robert, who had gone straight ahead on top of the ridge. As we climbed it, I became a bit worried about going back down it, but continued on. I became very fatigued, but Kevin had regained his strength, and was moving full speed. At this point we reached a point above the snow bridge where you have to downclimb about 10 very vertical feet to an initial snowbridge. Fortunately, Robert had already crossed it and gave us some advice. We put on crampons and climbed down with crampons, Kevin going first and then directing me towards optimal foot placements on the downclimb. We crossed the snowbridge without incident. We had to traverse some additional snow before we came to what I think is the snowbridge mentioned in most route descriptions. There are thousand foot dropoffs on either side of this bridge, so a little scary, but my footing felt pretty secure. We could now see our final goal looming intimidatingly before us, probably another 800 feet up. This portion of the climb was entirely a rock scramble, with care taken to avoid grey icy patches that had formed from snowmelt. We ditched our crampons and ice ax about halfway up, after learning from the first climber (who was already coming down at this point) that we didn’t need them at the summit. We left them in a very visible spot so as not to lose them on our way down. At that point I was quite physically spent, and felt that I needed to get rid of the extra weight to give me strength for the summit. We then proceeded to the summit without incident.
It is gorgeous at the top. We fooled around and celebrated on the top for about 15 minutes. I shot a short video of the panorama (see "View from Borah Peak").

Kevin found a geocache after a few minutes, and then we headed down. It was quite slow going, but after awhile I gained more confidence with the scrambling/bouldering and got down to the ridge where it flattened out somewhat. We managed to find our cached crampons, ice ax, and poles.
At this point, my toes began to notice that they were a little too confined in their boots and stepping downhill became painful with still about 1.5 miles of steep descent remaining. As I descended, I never did find my cached water bottle. I filled the other bottle with snow as a hedge and continued downward, running out of water (I had brought 4 1/2 liters). After what seemed like a very long time (indeed it was just over 13 hours total) I finally arrived in camp and removed my shoes for some relief. I discovered later that the "Superfeet" inserts that I had put in these boots had displaced my heel forward a couple mm farther than they used to be, thereby causing the problem.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5272 ft / 1606 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.8 mi / 14.2 km
    Trailhead:Borah TH  7390 ft / 2252 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 55 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 0 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Walter Blume
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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