Timing during the year is crucial for success. In the past teams had been stormed off and serious rock fall prohibited any upward progress. Up until the early 90s the face held more year-round snow and ice as can be seen in the photos that are posted here. Prolonged drought beginning in the late 70s and a warming climate has resulted in this face being left mostly bare of snow and ice during Idaho's hot, dry summers of recent. The face is now a very quiet place compared to the near past. A geological survey of glaciers in the West confirms this: Glaciers of Idaho
The approach is not in any way straight forward. The Pahsimeroi Valley to the east of the Lost River Range is a complex network of back roads, jeep trails and four-wheeler paths. Finding the right drive in is tricky (good luck in the dark) and high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles are mandatory.
Because it is so remote and other faces take the spot light, the East Face has remained hidden and overlooked for many decades. Don't be fooled, this is one of the best gems in the gem state. During the summers of 2011 and 2012 three new routes have been put up on the face: East Face Routes
GeologyIdaho’s Lost River Range is an actively uplifting fault-block at the northern end of the Basin and Range province. Extensional faulting has lifted the range relative to the down-dropped Big Lost River basin on its west side, producing steep ridges and slopes essentially devoid of foothills. Interior and eastern regions of the range are deeply incised by the Pahsimeroi and Little Lost Rivers. Most of the range, particularly in the central and southern regions, consists of thick layers of Paleozoic limestone and dolomite. Multiple episodes of tectonic deformation have resulted in dramatic open to isoclinal folding at a scale of meters to kilometers. Glaciation has carved numerous cirques throughout the range and alpine lake basins are scattered in the central and eastern portions. These combined activities have created an impressive assortment of large, high angled faces with western, northern, and eastern aspects.
DescentChicken-Out-Ridge with all the masses of folks or descend down the south face that joins Sacajawea to (Chicken-Out ridge). Do not descend all the way to COR, that’s too far. If you plan on doing this route in one day (very possible) bring a head lamp. See Wes Collins' "The Exit" on his Dirty Traverse page for more details of this descent.
Having left our camp at the end of the road on the West Fork of the Pahsimeroi River, we descended the steep and very loose class III/IV South Face of Mt Borah into the Sacajawea drainage as mentioned above. We descended to the upper saddle by way of the standard route and then turned down the face just below the cliff band. We wisely avoided the gully (left of center) and zig-zagged down the face to avoid the cliff bands.
GearBecause the rock is a mix between Dolomite (the Jefferson Dolomite formation) and limestone, the rock fractures in small seams. Much of the protection you can find is half inch or smaller. A healthy selection of smaller wires, (Nuts) and as many small cams as you can find is recommend for most climbing on this face. Many placements were finger cracks and smaller. Leave the big stuff home. Bring a dozen slings to extend your placements and to loop around horns as well. Rockfall is a given in this range so a helmet is highly recommended.
When to ClimbThe safest time of year is late summer and mid-fall. Less snow on the upper slopes equates to less rock fall. Also, this is Idaho's most popular summit, seeing hundreds of hikers every weekend ascend via the Southwest ridge. Be aware they may throw stuff off the top at you.
7-Day Weather Report - Web CamNOAA 7-Day Point Forecast for 11,103'
ITD US 93 Willow Creek Summit Webcam
None at all but it's probably a good idea to let someone know exactly where you are going.
First ascent: Lyman Dye, Wayne Boyer 1962 East Face (II, 5.2)
Climb the face from the notch on the northeast ridge (between the summit and Point 12247). Climb to the notch from Rock Creek which is just to the north. The crux of the climb is the first 90-foot pitch out of the notch. The angle decreases and the holds improve above this pitch.
During August, 2011 Wes Collins went up to the cirque for a recon and climbed the east face to the summit.This was the second ascent of the East Face of Mt Borah. See his Borah East - Trip Report/Route on the Idaho Summits forum.
On September 24, 2011 Wes Collins and Kevin Hansen made a third ascent of the East Face by way of the route described above.