Borah Peak, the highest point in Idaho, is a large and rugged summit
crowning the dry and isolated Lost River Range in the central part of the
state. The Lost Rivers are perhaps the driest range in all the Rockies--what little forest clings to their slopes is open, sparse, and dusty, and the valleys surrounding the range are wide-open sagebrush reminiscient of Nevada. Borah Peak, naked of vegetation, still looks like the giant fault block it was back when it first rose up out of the desert.
In summer the ascent is relatively easy, given that the vertical gain on
the standard route is a punishing 5300 feet. The first of the two main
obstacles to the summit is the horribly dusty, boulder strewn Birch Springs
road leading east off of US 93 north of Mackay--it includes a couple trenches and steps resulting from a powerful 1983 earthquake. The second main obstacle comes after the well-worn route has ascended steeply for a few thousand feet: a notch forces the climber to downclimb a 20-foot vertical face, but plentiful strong hand- and footholds make this easy for the expeienced scrambler, even if solo. Other than that the climb is mostly a lot of broken talus. Snow would certainly make things more difficult, though.
Most climbers do Borah as a day hike, although a draining one. There is no water on the mountain at all, and few level spots, so camping out would be difficult. Leave extra time if you feel you need a rope for the short
vertical face. Borah Peak is one of the more challenging state highpoints,
but a typical day will still see a reasonably large number of people on the
trail, all drawn by the lure of a high point.
Other routes on Borah besides the standard ascent from Birch Springs are
virtually never attempted, and the entire remainder of the Lost River Range is a virgin wilderness where many of the peaks, among them the highest in Idaho, still have no names. The difficulty of access, extreme aridity, and huge expanses of scree and talus are likely to keep things this way.