Ascent of Twin Falls County High Point on 2020-05-23

Climber: Jeremy Fuerst

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, May 23, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Twin Falls County High Point
    Elevation:7840 ft / 2389 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.

How appropriate that Twin Falls County has two high points.

After taking the scenic route down the west side of Great Salt Lake, I headed for The Twin Falls County high point to close the loop of this trip. Here it appeared my good fortune with accessible late spring summits had run out. Up until 6200’, any vehicle could drive these roads in dry conditions. Even then, the consistent snow in surrounding fields approached, but did not cover, the road. At 7000’, snow started to blanket the road, but it was apparent from fresh tire tracks that this road sees its share of travel. But by 7200’, the tracks stopped and I met a drift of unknown depth — just 4 miles from the corral. As it was after dark and I was unfamiliar with the surroundings, I backed down to a wide enough berth to turn around. I then retreated to a broad pullout at 6800’ to spend the night, prepared to hike the extra distance the following morning.

Well, the following morning in daylight, I drove back up and the mystery drift had disappeared. I doubt wind would have blown snow off, so I guess I was seeing things. At any rate I was able to drive all the way to the corral -- as could just about any passenger car.

Once there I was glad I had not driven in the night prior. Several trailer campers and large pickups were parked here, and as soon as I drove up a pack of 6 dogs (4 of them goldens) rushed my vehicle. The dogs were quite sweet and appeared well cared for. It is good I stayed farther down the night prior as rolling up that late would have sent the pooches into quite a ruckus, causing an unnecessary disturbance to the camp.

In spite of the greeting from the dogs, no one else in the camp as yet appeared to be stirring. I grabbed my pack and set off. Starting at the corral, it was a steady layer of a couple inches of snow. Still, I left my snowshoes behind, figuring the drifts would be insignificant and avoidable. For the first mile, this was true. Then 1/3-mile from the saddle, I was postholing to the top of my shins.

At that point I set a SW bearing for the eastern summit, opting for the windswept hillside. From here the snow was rarely more than ankle deep. At the summit I was greeted by a weather station, a small cairn, and a fierce biting wind. Lifting a rock on the cairn, I found an old glass bottle of iced tea that served as the register. I could not have signed it if I wanted.

From the eastern summit I headed due west to the other bump. From the saddle a road leads to the top of the western bump, but the snow was not as deep on the grass so I stuck to walking there. At the western summit is a larger cairn. I did some cursory lifting of rocks and prodding of snow to see if an additional register is stashed here. Finding nothing, I headed SSW to rejoin my tracks on the road. Once the terrain flattened, I was met with consistent postholing to my knees — and at one point, up to my waist. This was unexpected but it did not last long, and I was soon back to my tracks on the road.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...I returned to another enthusiastic greeting from the dogs. The folks camping were outside their trailers cooking breakfast. I visited with them for a little bit. They live nearby and camp up here every weekend. They are real friendly. It was interesting to hear some history of the sheep and cattle grazing up here.

I'd intended to hit Cinnabar Mountain and Pickles Butte on this trip as well, but Cinnabar had received a fresh layer of snow and I figured the resulting walk would be longer than I had time for. As Pickles Butte is en route to Cinnabar, I chose to save them both for another time.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, Very Windy, Overcast

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