Ascent of Boreas Mountain on 2017-10-07

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, October 7, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Boreas Mountain
    Elevation:13082 ft / 3987 m

Ascent Trip Report

In my entire career of peakbagging the 3 most scary strong winds I have ever encountered were the three times the winds were strong enough to push me off my feet and down to the ground. Once on Mount Rainier, and BOTH times that I attempted to climb this particular peak. There must be something special about where this peak is located. For it to be in my top 3 most difficult windy ascents in my life can not be a coincidence, so be advised this peak can produce some very unusually harsh wind conditions.INTERESTING UPDATE (6-28-2018)- I subsequently read that "Boreas" was a Greek God so looking that up I found this.....
"BOREAS was the purple-winged god of the north wind, one of the four seasonal Anemoi (Wind-Gods). He was also the god of winter who swept down from the cold mountains of Thrake (Thrace), chilling the air with his icy breath. Beyond his mountain home lay Hyperborea, a mythical land of eternal spring untouched by the god's winds." Whoever named this peak got this one right!

Finally went back and finished this peak. I had tried it early in 2009 without any planning with my son and had such wicked winds, steep talus, and so many demoralizing false peaks we turned back without tapping the top. Today, I picked this peak because there was too much snow on the other nearby peaks like Silverheels. Instead of simply busting up the side of the peak like last time, I parked at Boreas Pass where I could pick a line that would not be so steep and not as many false peaks. I walked past the structures at the pass with all the railroad history and started up to the ridge. There was scattered snow on the ground near the pass but as I headed up slope more snow was encountered. I was ready this time, with microspikes, poles, gators, and a topo map.

I picked my way through the grassy slopes and found solid snow packs to avoid teetering on steep talus when I could. The wind continued to pick up as I headed higher up the ridge line. I could see the many false peaks and found a line that was along a series of cairns that did a nice job of moving me in a SE direction. Once making the saddle at the top, the next false peaks were covered in icy steep snow that worried me to climb without an ice ax. I swung around the backside of the peaks to see if I could get behind the peak and avoid the increasing gusts of wind but the backside (eastern slopes) had deep snow, snow cornices formed over steep cliff edges. To be safe, I contoured around the false peaks on good snow and came up through a talus and snow saddle. The true summit was not immediately clear. To the right the western most false summit had many corniced snow features I did not want to climb up. I started up the tallest talus slope to the east being careful to snow climb up the ravine between the two subpeaks.

At the top of the talus peak I could finally see the true summit that evaded me years ago and fortunately it was not on the cornices to the west. But the winds picked up and once again it was hard to stand or walk. This was my second attempt at this peak and once again the winds were very strong. Reaching the final snow path to the peak there was a narrow ridge with winds starting to sit me down. There was a brief calming of the winds down to probably 40 mph and I ran to the summit and ducked behind the rock wind break and celebrated and took photos. Now it was time to go and the winds picked up and without even gusts the winds were so strong I could not stand up safely. I tried to stand up 4 times and each time I was pushed to the ground. I was worried about stumbling down into the talus especially if there was a strong unexpected gust. Strangely it was not gusts. It was an extremely strong sustained wind with enough force to keep me from being able to stand safely. I needed to get down so I actually used my poles like daggers and crawled 50 feet over the ridge until I could slide over the eastern edge and block some of the wind enough to finally stand.

The winds were strong but manageable once I got off the ridge and I found good snow packs and plunge stepped my way as quickly as I could down slope and back to the car. Enough fooling around withe Greek God of North Winds!

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1720 ft / 524 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1720 ft / 524 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Extremely Windy, Clear
48F to 50F and windy to over 60mph
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1710 ft / 521 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1670 ft / 509 m; Extra: 40 ft / 12m
    Loss on way in:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Route:see TR
    Start Trailhead:Boreas Pass  11412 ft / 3478 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1680 ft / 512 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1670 ft / 509 m; Extra: 10 ft / 3m
    Gain on way out:10 ft / 3 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Route:see TR
    End Trailhead:Boreas Pass  11412 ft / 3478 m

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