Ascent of Mount Idaho on 2012-09-13

Climber: Kelsey Backen

Others in Party:Brian Olson
Ben Mors
Date:Thursday, September 13, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Idaho
    Elevation:12065 ft / 3677 m

Ascent Trip Report

This trip was designed to be a follow up to the previous trip we made to the Lost Mountain Range (see here) to gather further intel on the arduous traverse of the seven 12,000 ft peaks of the range, starting with Borah Peak and ending with Lost River Peak). There has only been one report of a successful traverse of this range, seen here, and a couple of interesting accounts of a failed attempt, Matt Leidecker and Eric Leidecker .

We (Brian, Ben, and I) traveled in my truck, from Eagle ID, to the lost river range, where we stashed our mountain bikes a couple of miles off of HWY 93 up Sawmill Gulch. We then drove over to the Borah trail head camp ground and set up camp before nightfall. The next morning are alarms went off at 4:30 and we rousted for our large circle hike. By 5:30 my partners were off as I scrambled to finish a few things. I set off ~5 minutes later and after about a half an hour had caught up with them. We took a much more gradual pace than the previous months adventure and hit Chicken Out a little after sunrise. I don't know the exact time, but a picture I took indicates that we were beginning to traverse the ridge between Chicken Out and Sacajawea at 8:45 (a little over 3 hours into the journey).

Since I had just climbed over Sacajawea my party was not as interested in climbing it as they were in finding the quickest route under and around it (S side of course). This route proved slower and more exhausting as it is a mile of terrible talus on steep terrain. After extracting ourselves from the mire below Sacajawea we stopped and regrouped on the ridge a quarter mile away from the saddle on the northern aspect of Mt Idaho. By 1:00 we had made the summit of Idaho with less discomfort than we thought we would.

The ~1000 gain from the northern saddle ridge up the NNW face of Idaho was class 3 with dashes of class 4 (but not nearly as bad as my prior experience on Sacajawea). We mainly tried skirting southward, gradually gaining elevation and then cutting back N when climbable safe routes were located. The final ~100 feet of elevation gained is a long, gratifying upslope to the col at 12,065 (7th tallest in ID). We looked for the summit register (M.I.A.) and enjoyed the view for a little while. Our next phase of the journey would provide the scare we were hoping to avoid.

Our next objective was to explore the quickest route from Mt. Idaho to the base of Mt. Leatherman. We poked around the SE aspect of Idaho's peak before making a decision to drop over one of the two slot-like fingers leading off the mountain. This was rough with 3 guys, as we had to take turns descending, one-by-one, and sheltering from falling rocks as the next two guys took there turns, one-by-one. We were covering the ground so slowly that we felt pressure to hurry, but hurrying increased our chances of sure death. The entire time were were descending we could never see the bottom. Finally, after doing some non-roped, technical descending at various points on the bottom third of the descent we made the basin at the SE foot of Mt Idaho. The descent had taken us all of 2 hours and cost us emotionally and physically.

We pushed on for the base of Leatherman, took a much-deserved water/food brake at the stream that flows down from Pass Lake in the valley between White Cap Peak and Leatherman, and then made for Leatherman Pass, the saddle between White Cap and Leatherman. We made Leatherman Pass by 5:47 (nearly 5 hours after bagging Mt. Idaho). All we had left was the long descent down Sawmill Gulch to our mountain bikes.

After more challenges I won't go into here, we were finally done with our journey after ~24 miles and ~15:30 hours (combined bike and hike).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6665 ft / 2031 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2000 ft / 609 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3 and 4
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy
beautiful day
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6665 ft / 2031 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4665 ft / 1422 m; Extra: 2000 ft / 609m
    Loss on way in:2000 ft / 609 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8.1 km
    Route:Main hiking route from trailhead to Sacajawea ridg
    Start Trailhead:Mt Borah Trailhead  7400 ft / 2255 m
    Time:7 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics

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