Ascent of Mount Davis-Southwest Slope on 2020-05-20

Climber: Jeremy Fuerst

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Davis-Southwest Slope
    Elevation:6360 ft / 1938 m

Ascent Trip Report

Things were starting to open up for what the nation is hoping will be post-COVID-19. Idaho has been a more permissive state in this climate, so I leaned into my own hypocrisy and headed there for a couple days, hitting county high points for Ada, Gooding, Lincoln, Jerome, Minidoka, Power, and Twin Falls -- all having shown an absence of snow on NOHRSC et al for a few weeks by the time I headed that way.

After hitting Boise Ridge and getting some coffee, I hung out in my vehicle in Boise to conduct Zoom meetings in my vehicle where I knew I would still have a strong signal. Then it was off to Davis Mountain.

I elected for the Hobby Spring route, driving in on the City of Rocks road, as it was more opportune for my itinerary. It appears others have driven to the top of Davis Mountain itself and descended; this is probably worth looking into. The first few miles of the road were fine, just a bit slippery from constant rain the previous 2 days (which during my visit was going on and off). With a couple miles left to Hobby Spring the road gets quite rocky. Then with 1.3 miles left to Hobby Spring, I encountered a slope that just about sucked me into a narrow deep rut alongside the road. It only took once for my rear end to slide near into it that I said, "To hell with this." Thus I started walking from 43.19421, -114.87787.

I knew if I ran into vehicle trouble I would be well on my own. Not only did I not see any sign of other humans in the area from the moment I left pavement, but even from the time I departed I-84 encounters with other vehicles were rare.

Heading from my vehicle on foot was even a challenge up that stretch of road to avoid biting it in spots, as the mud had me slipping and sliding -- and growing increasingly concerned about my ability to extricate myself from these roads should the precipitation pick back up. And yet, walking past the switchback, I felt if I had made it up to that point in my ride, I would have been golden to drive the remaining distance to Hobby Spring.

It was haste that led me to depart the road from Hobby Spring and follow various livestock paths uphill. About this point the sky opened back up to drizzle, and I was quickly soaked walking among the already-saturated sagebrush. I had initially planned to follow the contours around the gully, but once atop the plateau it quickly became apparent that: a) The CalTopo contours did not cover the length of this gully; b) This "shortcut" was not going to save me one bit of time. Still, I felt committed to it, so I stuck with it, not wanting to lose a minute backtracking down to the road.

Once heading back up out of the gully, the sagebrush only got thicker, necessitating some minor bushwhacking. This was annoying and I cursed myself for thinking this was a timesaver. It was short-lived, but I then realized I was atop a rib and would need to navigate some low cliffs down another short gully. Luckily this only required a brief hike uphill to circumnavigate, as well as find a path of least resistance through some more thicker sagebrush. I have had dumber ideas, I just could not recall them at the moment.

Down and up another short gully before I crossed the road. The present-moment me wanted to travel an hour back in time to the earlier me to deliver him a proper beating. From the road it was only about 1/4-mile to the highpoint -- albeit through a couple patches of thicker sagebrush.

If there is a register, I did not find it. Neither did I look very tenaciously. I was at this point quite eager to get back to the vehicle and get off these roads. My initial plan was to divert to the Davis Mountain summit "on the way" back to my vehicle. But my haste and the fact that it was completely obscured by clouds had me abandoning that plan.

On the way down I strictly stuck to the road, kicking myself for my best-laid plans. And yet, by the time I got to my vehicle, the rain had stopped and it looked like the sun might just break through the clouds. Just in time for me to head to the Lincoln county high point.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Mud/Swamp
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Breezy, Low Clouds

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