Ascent to Boreas Mountain-Last talus field on 2009-06-07

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Daniel Musser
Date:Sunday, June 7, 2009
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Boreas Mountain - Last talus field
    Elevation:12950 ft / 3947 m
    Remaining Elevation:132 ft / 40 m (7% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Dayhike attempt at end of tiring backpacking trip with my son Daniel (13). Idea was to close out the trip with one quick summit above 13,000 on the drive home. With limited time to get back to airport only mountain we saw was Boreas Mountain. There was no hiking trails up the mountain so the entire route had to be selected on the fly. The most gentle route would have been to park another mile north and follow the less steep ravine up to Black Powder Pass then appraoch from the north ridge.

We instead tried a direct open country summit from the SW and West face which was steep and very windy. Temperature at the car had dropped to 49 degrees. We estimate it was around 40 degrees near the summit but the winds were the most intense I have ever felt on an approach to a summit. We were constantly losing our balance and twice the gust was so intense that it knocked us off our feet and we had to go down. The wind funneled thru the saddle in particualr and was like being in a gale or mild huricane. The slopes were in three angles. The lower slope nearest the by the car was justt a steep hike requiring some switchbacks through the pine trees. The second part of the mountain was above tree line just below elevation 12,000 and was mostly grass but was much steeper. The lower half was full of downed trees the upper began some talus runoff piles. This area was too steep to climb without significant cross sloping steps (making z backs and switchbacks). The top third was all talus and snow. The talus was very large and unstable in places making it very hard to walk on. This was the steepest part of the ascent.

We finally reached the peak we saw from the car that we thought was the peak of Boreas but it was only a false subpeak. We crowned the top of the first subpeak at elevation 12,400 from the SE and stood on the saddle feeling intense winds.

We found that it was easer to climb the steep snow drifts as long as they were ankle deep. In other areas, however, we sank to knee deep (post holing) and a very steep slope and abandoned them back for the equally undesirable talus. The rock material was fine grained granite like rock possibly rhyolite and it did not pack tight on the steeper slopes when the rock sizes were larger than a basketball and you could find little stable footing. Each step was an ankle roll about to happen. We searched for packs of snow or finer talus (golf ball to softball size) which packed tight and was easier to ascend - but there was none of that left by the time we got to the last 100 feet before the summit to be found.

Winds had picked up to a point where we were being blown to the ground or pushed around as we were trying to plant our feet carefully on any rock that looked like it would not roll but we started to slip and fall every other step and the conditions were not safe to try to balance on this awkward unstable basketball sized talus. We abandoned knowing we had reached the 13,000 goal (or close). We had sucessfully climbed above all of the knolls and minor peaks around us. I realized we were bushwhacking off trail where nobody knew where we were and if i got hurt my 13 year old would have a hard time getting me help and I knew this bid for his first 13er was not the right conditions - we stopped.

The views however were magnificient from this viewpoint. The pictures we got of Mount Silverheels, Mount Bross, Quandry Peak, Mount Helen, Mount Lincoln etc...were amazing! So many 14ers and near 14ers all in a row. The trip up was not a good quality ascent (like a 3) but the views were like a 9 so i give it a 6.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1790 ft / 545 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Grade/Class:class 2, and 2+ very
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Cold, Extremely Windy, Clear
sunny but intense gusts wind
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1790 ft / 545 m
    Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Route:No trail SW and W face
    Start Trailhead:Boreas Pass Road  11160 ft / 3401 m
    Time:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Route:Retraced steps to car
    Time:1 Hours 

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