Sunday, August 15, 2010

Galena Peak and Hyndman Peak

Date: August 15-16, 2010.

Partners: N/A.

Stats: Lots of gain, lots of miles. Mostly class 2. Galena Peak elevation 11,153. Hyndman Peak elevation 12,009.

Gear notes: N/A.

Links: Galena Peak on Hyndman Peak on Galena Peak on Idaho: A Climbing guide Hyndman Peak on Idaho: A Climbing Guide

Galena Peak from camp.

After my first real taste of the bigger peaks, I was eager to attempt an old goal, Galena Peak. I had eyed Galena Peak early on due to the straight forward looking route up the southwest ridge. My first attempt on the peak ended at about 9,000 feet on the ridge. This time around I was camped at Senate Creek Meadows the night before, instead of driving up the morning of the hike. It's an important strategy that I still use today.

Looking up the southwest ridge.

This route is straight forward and easy to follow once on the ridge.

Middle ridge.

Once out of the tree line, the real fun began. I remember it being class 2 on relatively solid rock.

Upper ridge.

I was still getting my first bites of alpine ridge walks but I liked how it tasted.

Looking down the southwest ridge.

Straight forward hiking up the ridge and little in the way of obstacles meant making surprisingly good time.

The Alter of Sacrifice.

Just south of the true summit, I found this table like landmark that I called The Alter of Sacrifice.
The views were unlike anything I had ever seen.

I remember thinking; oh wow, whats that giant peak over there!?

Castle Peak. Probably my first view of it.

I didn't really know the names or locations of many other peaks, but I was eager to learn them.

Galena Peak summit.

I hit the summit in about 4 hours from camp. I wouldn't say it was easy, but I felt good. This was the exact opposite outcome from my first attempt where I burned myself out in 3 hours trying to rush up the ridge. Then the revelation happened and I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for.

These things are hard; it's an all day effort. You don't charge up these things; you train, then come out here and slowly but steadily work your way up. Big effort, big reward. 

Summit view looking south.

I had climbed my first 11,000 foot peak in the style that I felt mountains should be done. Start small and work your way up to bigger and bigger peaks. I kept that in mind as I hiked back down to camp and set out once again up the East Fork Road for my next trick; Hyndman Peak. I had a few cold beers to celebrate that night, but I knew Hyndman would be a hard day so I get to bed for another early start.

Hyndman Peak.

I was up and off early the next morning, but sluggish and tired. I thought maybe I should have taken a rest day in between peaks. I had never attempted anything like this before on a couple of levels. 1, I had never been to 12,000 feet. 2, I had never done two big peaks back to back.


I still regard the wildflowers in the upper basin as some of the best I've ever seen. I'll admit it, the picture sucks. It doesn't even come close to showing how beautiful they were.

On the approach up the basin, there were a few times that I thought I was done in, but my slow and steady pace was proving to win out.

View up from the saddle.

My camera battery was running low so I had to choose my pictures carefully. I was solo, but I ended up meeting some fellow hikers at the saddle and we all ascended at about the same pace.

Looking down to the saddle at Old Hyndman Peak.

Guide books and websites alike rate Hyndman Peaks east ridge as class 2. I'd say its easy class 3 and very fun. It was steep but there were no difficult moves and very little exposure.

Looking up the east ridge.

The peak looked tantalizingly close, but I just kept my head down and worked my way up.

Summit view, looking south.

Reaching the summit of Hyndman Peak was one of the most exhilarating things I've ever experienced. I knew this was it, I was hooked. Now I would never not need this in my life and I had no idea what I had been missing.

Summit view, looking east.

The summit views were tremendous and like nothing I had seen until then.

Cobb Peak.

Studying the Pioneer Range from the summit of Hyndman, it became clear to me that it was a mountain climbers paradise. Lots of peaks and I knew I'd be coming back.

Summit view, looking east. Smiley Mountain is on the horizon.

I took as many pictures as I could to study later. I had just enough juice in the battery for a couple more shots, including the all important summit photo. I had done my last planned prerequisite peak before I was going to attempt Borah. Now I just had to get down from this one and plan the next. Oddly enough, the fact that I had just climbed the ninth highest Peak in Idaho and was already planning to climb the first meant nothing more then that to me at that current point in time.

Summit of Hyndman Peak. 1 down, 8 to go..

I had enough Adrenalin in me that my own fatigue had dissipated and the concept of time was no longer a thing. I was so jazzed that I made it back to my car in almost one continuous push.

A few days later, back in Boise I had an idea while talking about these back to back peaks over back to back pints with a good friend of mine. I don't remember exactly who said what, but it went something like this.

Well, you (I) just climbed the ninth highest, why not try to climb all ten?

It only took one closer look at Idaho: A Climbing Guide and a simple cross check at to realize that I was now trying to climb the nine peaks in Idaho over 12,000 feet, simply known as the 12ers, with an added bonus of 11,982 foot USGS Peak. Then I figured out the massive peak I saw from Galena's southwest ridge was Castle Peak. The more I read about Castle Peak, the more I wanted to climb it. The more I read about other peaks around the peaks I had already thought about doing, the more I wanted to climb those too. Do you see a pattern developing?

This ended up being my last big trip of 2010, but with getting three big peaks done, it had been one heck of a first year doing this. I had learned a lot about myself in the mountains and I learned to love the mountains so much more. I took the red pill and went down the rabbit hole.

Next stop; Borah Peak.

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