Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Around The Mountain

A great tour of the Boise Mountains that circumnavigates Shafer Butte in Bogus Basin Ski Area.

Date: September 29, 2017.

Objective: Trail running.

Stats: Strava track. 10 miles and 1,400ft of gain round trip.

Partners: N/A.

Gear notes: Standard kit for mountain running.

Links: Trail Run Project.

GoPro Video

This turned out to be a fantastic day for running in the mountains. Crisp air, sunny skies and fall colors just beginning to stand out. I bypassed Shafer Butte since I've already been to the top several times, but it would make this run a bit more interesting. The first two miles are kind of steep, but beyond that, no real big climbs as this route stays fairly low.  Many options exist to extend or connect this trail.

Happy Running!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Snowbank Mountain

A quick hike up a scenic peak.

Date: August 19. 2017.

Objectives: Snowbank Mountain 8,340ft. Range highpoint of the West Mountains. P2K. Granite Mountain,

Stats: Strava track. 2.4 miles and 700ft gain in 2 hours round trip. Includes extra hiking just for kicks.

Partners: Deez and Dog.

Gear notes: N/A.

Links: Snowbank Mountain and Granite Peak on Idaho: A Climbing Guide.

We had an open day with time to kill but we didn't want to venture too far from town. The potential for bad traffic due to the eclipse had us guessing, but we still wanted to get out. When we did Tripod Peak last year we had planned to do the quick hike up Snowbank, but ran out of time. Fast forward one year and there we were.

Snowbank Mountain.

There were a lot of people camped out for the eclipse just two days way. This day was particularly hazy and the views were not real great.

Collier Peak.

Collier Peak looked interesting but the smoke in the air made our minds up to not go for it. The route up Snowbank just follows the road so it wasn't too interesting but the summit itself is pretty cool. Snowbank Mountain has more than 3,000 feet of prominence, or what is known as a P2K, a peak with more than 2,000 feet of prominence. On a clear day the view would be more dramatic.

Deez on the summit.


Hazy skies.

We hiked out onto this ridge just for kicks.

East side of the summit.

Hiking the east ridge.

Just below the summit.

Snowbank on Snowbank.

After a bit of walking and going back up Snowbank mountain, we drove to the base of Granite Mountain to make it a two peak day. Granite is a short walk from the road so make sure you get it when you're in the area.

Horn feature.

This horn looked interesting. It might need to be investigated.

Tripod Peak.

Top of Granite Peak.
A short and easy day for sure.

Happy trails!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tagging Twelver's Part 2 - Donaldson Peak and Mount Church

Part 1 - Diamond Peak.

Date: August 5, 2017.

Objectives: Donaldson Peak 12,023. 8th highest peak in Idaho. Mount Church 12,220+. 3rd highest peak in Idaho.

Stats: Strava track. 9.5 miles and 5,700ft of gain in 9:30 round trip.

Partners: Josh S.

Gear notes: Helmet required for the headwall.

Church and Donaldson, front and center.

Campground with the LRR in the background.

After climbing Diamond Peak, we headed over to the Mackay reservoir to set up camp. Then we got way too much fantastic food at Mary Lou's. Then we hung out in camp and had some celebration beers while the wind blew. We got to bed at a decent hour and I was putting drool on my pillow in no time. Then we had late night visitors roll into the neighboring camp sites sometime around midnight. They were obviously pretty jacked to be there. Either that, or they had no concept of other people. Headlights, car horns, slamming doors and yelling kids walking right through our camp had us up late enough that we both had considered just getting up and leaving to start the climb. Josh suggested we push back the wake up time one hour to try to get a bit more sleep. That was a good call and we finally got a couple hours of sleep. We were up at 6am and did our best to not be too quiet while we packed up.

Starting the hike.

Josh heading up the canyon.

We were a bit sleep deprived but that did not impact our motivation. Soon we were at the end of the road and on the trail up the north fork of Jones Creek. Lots of cairns kept us on track. We took a short break at the top of the canyon before we began the scree slog to the small pond that sits below the headwall.

Nearing the pond.

Pond below the headwall.

Josh starting up the headwall

This headwall might be my least favorite place. Every rock is loose and just waiting to crush you or your buddy. Let me just say that I'm glad I don't have a reason to go though it again.

Josh on the summit of Donaldson.

We veered up and to climbers right of what would be considered the normal route, more or less up the west face of Donaldson. We were greeted by another hazy view and Diamond was not visible. Interesting side note: so far, Donaldson Peak is the only 12er I've summeted twice.

Church from Donaldson.

From this angle, Church looks intimidating to say the least. I tried to keep my eyes down and my head in the game.

Summit of Donaldson.

Climbers log.

We had a snack and rested for a minute, but we knew we had to get going.

Looking southeast.

Josh on Donaldson.

Donaldson x2.

Josh heading up the ridge to Church.

Crossing the saddle wasn't bad but we knew the real obstacles were waiting for us up higher.

Looking north toward Borah.

Upper ridge.

There were a few sections of the climb that had our full attention. We moved smoothly and with purpose across the exposed ridge and onto the true summit.

Climbers log.

I'd been trying to think of something clever to say or do if I ever finished the 12ers but July had been a tough month. I was tired. Fatigue was setting in and overuse injuries were creeping up. I was just happy I finally made it. I might have fought back a tear or two.

Looking west. No view of the Pioneer mountains today.

9 of 9 and a legit smile.

Looking back on the ridge. Donaldson in the background.

We both agreed; that ridge is gnarly but the headwall was worse.

Video on the summit of Church

We left the summit and made good time down the ridge. It didn't seem as bad as it did on the way up.

Taking a break on descent. Donaldson in the background.

Once past the ridge, we were faced with the dreaded descent of the headwall. I started us down a gully marked by a huge cairn that I thought was the entrance to the normal route, but we quickly found ourselves doing exploratory surgery, cutting into places that we shouldn't have been as we tried to find a way out of the cliffy class 4 crap. The echo of rockfall was like the sound of shackles as it tried to imprison us. Josh had the right idea; climb up to get out, but the last thing my legs wanted to do was more vert. We climbed some class 4 ribs to get out of the scree chutes and made our way back to the saddle. Eventually we found the correct exit gully. The prison break was on and we slid our way back to the pond. Our sentence was up, we were free men again. Even though I turned out to be a repeat offender, I swore I'd never go back again.

Donaldson Peak.

My feet were pretty swollen and sore by the time we got down to the lower scree field. The day was hot and we were looking forward to whatever shade waited for us down in the canyon.

Mouth of the canyon.

We cut the breaks and bombed down to the car. Now it was official, I was finished with the 12'ers. The way I look at it, you only get to celebrate the first time you finish the 12'ers once.

Happy trails!

Tagging Twelver's Part 1 - Diamond Peak

A long and winding journey comes to an end in a two day peak-athon. 

Date: August 4, 2017. 

Objective: Diamond Peak 12,197ft. Lemhi Range highpoint, 4th highest peak in Idaho, 1 of 3 ultra prominence peaks in Idaho (5,000+ft), 2nd most prominent peak in the state.

Stats: Strava track 8.4 miles and 5,100ft gain in 8hrs round trip.

Partners: Josh S.

Gear notes: N/A.

Seven years ago I embarked on the Journey of climbing the nine peaks in Idaho that exceed 12,000 feet in elevation. I've had the pleasure of climbing with some really great people on these challenging peaks. I've had a few people ask me; which one is the hardest? My answer; they're all hard, they just have different personalities, different kinds of hard. I've also had a few people ask; how do you climb a mountain like that? My answer; one step at a time.

Josh and I had talked about teaming up for Diamond since the spring outing. We nailed down a date and decided it made since to also hit the Lost River Range since we'd be in the neighborhood. I needed to officiate my 12'ers finish and finally get to the true summit of Mount Church. We headed out of town in the afternoon for the drive over to the Birch Creek valley to make camp at the base of Diamond Peak. The road was passable to within about a half mile of the peak. It was hot and smoky with no shade and plenty of bugs. We sipped beers and chatted into the evening as the sun went down, all the while eyeing Diamonds famous east ridge we would climb in the morning.

Diamond Peak in the afternoon haze.

We were up before the sun and quickly broke camp to get moving in the cool morning air.

Heading up the lower slopes to Diamonds famous east ridge.

There were cows low on the route but they kept their distance and didn't give us much trouble. We kept an eye on them, just in case.

Lower slopes.
The lower slopes were a pretty standard fair of sage brush and steep slopes.

First break.

It was smoky enough that by now I had a weird taste in the back of my throat that was enough to make me gag a couple times, but other than that, we cruised right along. But that's easy to do at Josh's pace.

Start of the scramble.

Soon we found ourselves at the base of the upper ridge and all that stood between us and the summit was another 2,000 feet.

Upper east ridge.

Climbers trail heading up.

Crux of the est ridge.

We followed the ridge, looking for the weaknesses through the crux to sneak our way up. It was definitely class 3, solid and fun.
Climbing though the crux.

Climbing though the crux.

Some of the more exposed sections required close examination but for the most part the route was pretty intuitive.

Final pitch to the top.

After the crux, the final section to the summit was mostly class 2 and if I dare say, easy.


The summit had a slight breeze and very hazy views waiting for us. We could see Bell Mountain and The Riddler, but not Borah or a single peak in the Lost River Range. It was Josh's first Idaho 12'er and my unofficial last. We had a nice break and some snacks with the whole mountain all to ourselves.

360 summit video

Summit cairn.

View north to Bell Mountain.

View south looking over The Riddler.

Josh with the flag.

Summit flag.

Climbers log.

Down climbing the ridge was pretty fun and other than me getting slightly off route, went by pretty quick.

Josh hanging ten on the descent.

Walk of shame back to the car.

We descended into the heat of the afternoon and headed straight for the car with only a couple of very short stops. It never felt so good to be 99% done with something, but we weren't headed home quite yet. We headed over to Mackay to get into position for part 2.