This is both a trip report and an album so enjoy the pictures.
What to climb?
I have had a climb for November 21st marked on my calendar for a while. The problem was I didn't know what I was going to climb. My first choice would have been Lost River Mountain since I'm trying to finish off the 12ers, but after talking with my climbing partners Zach and Rob we decided it wasn't going to work. It was too far away for the amount of daylight left. We tossed around other ideas but never came to a conclusion. Finally I emailed John (Splattski) asking for suggestions. Since I haven't climbed with him for almost two years now I invited him to come. After a few more days of debate we finally settled on a suggestion from Splattski: The Box in the Pioneers. The forecast for the weekend called for cold, cloudy, and windy weather with a chance of snow. Zach said the cold didn't appeal to him so he opted out of the trip and headed South to the Owyhees. That left Rob, Splattski, and I to tackle The Box (11,305 ft.).
Farther on the Little Matterhorn poked out of the clouds as the day began to clear up more. To my right I spotted 5 mountain goats walking along the ridge above us heading the same way we were. Rob saw them but Splattski didn't catch them.
After about an hour the clouds closed in a it started to snow pretty hard but as soon as it had begun it ended. The clouds parted and the blue sky and sun broke through. It was bright and clear for the rest of the day.
Even though the footing was easier with crampons it was still steep and physically taxing. The sun was shining but it didn't do much to warm things up and the wind didn't help much either.
Body: "Stop! Stop! It's cold and miserable! I have no energy! This hurts! Why do you even do this! You're dumb!
Brain: "C'mon just a little more! The top's not that far away."
Body: "Are you crazy? Look at it! It's forever away!"
Brain: "Stop whining, you have to make it!"
Body: "NO! Give up!"
Brain "Ok fine! I'm tired too."
Just as I was about to give up I saw Rob's head poke up from the top. The summit which had appeared to be at least 20 miles away was actually only about 20 ft. in front of me.
Brain: "Ha! Told you so!"
Body: "Hey you were gonna give up to!"
Brain: "No way! I just said that to get you to shut up!"
Body: Fine whatever!"
Rob and I reached the top about 15 minutes after Splattski. It was sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 PM. The view of the Pioneers in every direction was amazing! The lighting was perfect and the wind and wispy clouds made for some great pictures. I was so tired by that time that I only snapped a few pictures and just sat on a rock for a few minutes. It was cold and very windy so we left quickly. I was glad that I hadn't given up and turned around. I pushed through the misery and made it!
The views from the summit were so good I had to put a lot of pictures up here.
I was delighted to find that going down was much easier than going up. What had previously taken me an hour to do only took me 10 minutes. At one section near the top where the snow was a little more unstable I got a little "practice" with self-arrest. The snow slid out from under me and I couldn't get my footing so I fell and started sliding. I rolled onto my stomach and drove the pick of my ice axe into the snow. I stopped almost immediately, as I wasn't even sliding that fast, and got back to my feet. So that was my first real go at self-arrest. I probably wouldn't have gone far anyways as there wasn't a whole lot of snow and there were plenty of rocks to grab onto but it still made my heart pound a little.
After that experience the descent back to the snowshoes went pretty fast. By this time the sun had dipped behind the ridge to our west and the temperature started to drop quickly. (As if it wasn't cold enough already!)
It was a fantastic day in the mountains! Everything seemed to work out for us and we got treated to some of Idaho's best scenery! Oh, and if you're ever up there and find a white Nalgene bottle with a blue lid, it was mine. You can probably have it though....