Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rainbow Mountain

For the Spring Outing, Dan picked Rainbow Mountain in the Lemhi Range way back in February. He may not have had a crystal ball to predict the weather so far in advance, but his clairvoyant powers selected a fine peak with amazing views.

Date: May 20, 2017

Objective: Rainbow Mountain, 10,162ft.

Partners: Many of the usual suspects and many names I did not get. Ruby, the up and coming Mountain Dog won everyone's hearts and stole the show.

Stats: 4.6 miles, 2,700ft gain in 5 hours round trip. Class 2. Strava track.

Gear notes: Snow shoes.

Links: Idaho: A Climbing GuideDan's ReportSplattski's Report.


Birch Creek Campground. 



Twice a year, Dan extends an open invite to the people informally known as the Idaho Summits group to climb a peak of his choosing. This biannual event has grown in popularity and this time around, we were a group of well over 20 people and 3 dogs by the time we left the trail head. Most camped the night before, but a few people drove up in the morning.

Diamond Peak after sunset.

The camp site grew larger by the hour as more people showed up. The sun went down; we had a few beers, a few laughs and then a few hours of sleep before our planned 8:00am departure from our mini-city. The last song we heard on the drive to the trail head was not planned, nor was it a coincidence, because I don't believe in those. It was good old mountain magic. Synchronicity, if you will.

"If you want to see a rainbow, you got to sit though a little rain." - Sugar Ray.


Deez and I heading out.

Heading for the ridge.

We caravan'ed to the Coal Kilns and were headed for the base of the Northeast ridge at 9:00am. Deez and the youngster were along for the fun. Their plan was to hike a ways up the route with me. The youngster bolted to the front of the group, which meant that I eventually had to catch up with him and then hang back until we could regroup with Deez. They made it a bit farther up the route until they had to head back.

I had a short time alone in the trees until I gained the ridge and caught up with the rest of the group. We headed up the mountain after a quick break, then soon found ourselves strapping on snowshoes.

Along the ridge.

As the slope angle kicked back, the group started to spread out. Coming up through the trees was mostly steep, but not hard. We had one interesting section of rock to go around, or up and over, depending on personal preference. I decided to skirt the outcrop on climbers right, then regained the ridge with a quick uphill traverse to the left.

Upper ridge.


Looking toward Prescott Peak.

Once out of the trees, the views opened up nicely. We had cloudy skies but no precipitation. I don't know who found the switch for the wind machine, but they kicked it on. I had one quick stop to add a layer and continued my push for the top.

Prescott Peak and Mount Inspiration.

Summit selfie.

Splattski keeping Ruby warm. Brett stands behind him.

I arrived on top to find some familiar faces layered up against the cold. John had Ruby layered up as well. Several more people topped out just after me. We crowded the small perch in the sky with our large group. I chatted it up with a few friends I recognized, and a few that I didn't. Many people started to head down, which allowed a bit more of an unobstructed view.

Summit views



Beaverhead Range.

Looking south into the Lemhi's

Splattski, Brett and Rob on the summit,

Dan and Carrie enjoying lunch with a view.

Bell Mountain.

The Lost River Range in the distance to the west.


Diamond Peak and Bell Mountain.

I began my descent with one thing still on my mind. How long until the rain starts...?
A short time after, and still well above the treeline, someone found the off switch for the wind machine. The temperature quickly rose. Soon my snowshoes were sliding on the wet layer of recent snow that had not bonded well to the old crust. 

Rob and I were in agreeance that the solution was simple; just don't fall. My decision to remove my snowshoes was not as simple. I took a few thigh deep post holes in the slop, but the boot skiing on the firm snow was worth it. Soon we were off the snow and navigating our way through the trees. Rob and I joined up with a few others looking for the best route down to the road. We eventually found ourselves back on the road and in the warmth of the sun after encountering no more than a brief and minor snow flurry.

Open slopes, just above the Coal Kilns.


I booked it down to the parking area where I found Deez and Landen relaxing after an exploratory hike of the area. We all regrouped in the parking area and people began to head off. A small group of us hung back to wait for Mark and Tory. After a short time, they made it down and we headed back to camp.

Photos From The Drive Out

Rainbow Mountain.

Diamond Peak from the north.

Bell Mountain.

Once back in camp, we got to cracking beers and snacking while watching the weather move around us. We had to ride out a rain shower but what we saw after put a smile on our faces.

Rainbow in camp.

We laughed about the chorus of the Sugar Ray song we heard while driving to the trail head. Once the shower past, we reconvened around the camp fire. The John's were plotting to hike Bald Mountain the next day and I believe Brett was headed for Copper Mountain; all just a short distance from camp. It was a wonderful first peak in the Lemhi Range. We enjoyed a hardy dinner and some wine with Diamond Peak looming in the background before calling it a night.

We planned to hike Scott Butte the next day, before the drive home.  

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