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Ascent of Borah Peak on 2018-08-14

Climber: Nick Goumas

Date:Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Borah Peak
    Location:USA-Idaho
    Elevation:12662 ft / 3859 m

Ascent Trip Report

Got to the trailhead the night before around sunset. There's a handful of tent sites available but I was crashing in the back of my rental van so I just parked in the most level area of the main lot I could find. It's five dollars cash for a day use pass FYI. There's also a couple compost-style bathrooms on site which is helpful.

As I was getting things squared away for the next morning, I started talking with a guy in the lot parked near me. He had hired a guide for his summit attempt which made me start questioning my ability to go solo.

The next morning I finished packing everything up using lessons learned from my trip up Granite Peak a few days prior. I tried to bring the least amount of gear and food possible while maximizing water. I ended up just carrying an extra gallon jug of water (half full) in my hand along with a 2L nalgene in my summit bag. The day before I had called the ranger station in Mackay and asked about conditions and whether crampons and an axe would be necessary. "We always recommend hikers carry crampons and an ice axe for safety." was their response. I should have recognized the cover-your-ass-speak. Regretfully I strapped my points and tool on my bag as well. I also had a helmet.

It seems like most people started around 4-4:30am. I started up the trail right at 5am. It's a direct route of switchbacks right up to the ridgeline. Just a long slog. Between wearing light layers and pacing myself very carefully I was able to trudge up the first couple thousand feet without many breaks. By the time I had reached the first section of ridge I think I had passed everyone on the trail except for the guy I was chatting with the night before (Mike) and his guide, Matt Scrivner of Sawtooth Mountain Guides. They ended up being great company on the rest of the route.

It was super helpful being able to hike alongside the Matt and Mike. I felt like I was stealing listening to the advice Matt was giving Mike on how to navigate different exposed sections. Although they were roped up and I was solo so I guess that's where the real value was for Mike.

Navigating the first section of ridge was pretty easy. There was a short exposed section to get on top, then the choice of either going down the center of the ridge (most exposure) or using a trail that followed parallel on it's north side. Following the trail across brought me to a chute to get back up to the top of the ridge, maybe 20 or 30 feet. There was a bit of scree and sketchy sections here but nothing too bad.

I was now at chicken-out-ridge. The down-climb to get to the snowbridge is a bulge, about 15 feet above the snow. This was possibly the most nerve-wracking part of the climb. Maybe tied with a section in the beginning that I think could be skipped. I went down very carefully just after Matt/Mike. It took a bit of experimenting because I hadn't been in a position to see how they had done it. Counter-intuitively it was easier to go over directly in the higher center section of the bulge than in the slot to the left. Much better hand holds in the center.

The snowbridge was almost non-existent. It was slightly frustrating the rangers would tell you to bring up extra equipment but I was feeling great so I didn't sweat it. Matt/Mike ditched their ropes and harnesses after the bridge and we started trudging up the trail. From here the trail is pretty much a strait shot. Matt/Mike summited with bringing up the rear at around 9:30am. We were the first three on the summit. After a short food/picture break we started down. There's only one route so same deal on the way down. Much easier going over the bulge in reverse and the rest of the problems in general, having already done them.

Once off the ridge the three of us chatted about different trips we'd been on while we made our way to the lot. I was back at the car at 1:30pm. I was very happy with my pace, especially considering I was sucking wind hard when I was on Granite. I guess I finally acclimated a bit.

Leaving on route 20 I drove back to Mackay and stopped at the Wagon Wheel RV park for a $5 shower, well worth it.

ALSO: Matt the guide was super friendly and seemed very knowledgeable. I'm including his name/company here to partly save the info for future personal use and also as a recommendation.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5262 ft / 1603 m
    Trailhead:7400 ft / 2255 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble



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