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Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

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Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby IagosGhost » Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:45 pm

I'm planning on hiking Borah Peak in mid-July via the southwest ridge route. My 11 year old son is interested in joining us. My main concern is on the Chicken Out Ridge part of the trail. I know there are varying opinions about the true class rating of this part, but I'm only really worried about my son's safety. He has never done any kind of scrambling or hiking in steep terrain. We are currently training/preparing for the hike by running/walking 2-3 miles 3Xweekly, and soon we'll begin walking hills with loaded backpacks. I would appreciate any advice on the topic.

1. Would this be an age-appropriate hike for him?
2. Would I need to belay him on this part especially the down climb or snow bridge?
3. Would trekking poles help in on the climb?
4. If any of you have kids who have climbed this, please share your experiences so I can better prepare my son (and myself.)

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby splattski » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:16 pm

Unless things change really fast (and they can), you won't be "hiking" Borah in two weeks- you'll need an axe and crampons, at least.
Borah even when dry is not a hike. Read this from last year:
http://www.ktvb.com/news/local/Nampa-te ... 86504.html

That said, I've taken kids up Borah a couple of times- both times on a rope on the exposed parts. In my opinion, kids do not have the experience to judge hazards that are possibly deadly.

The route is really not bad if you stick to it (but it is quite exposed, and includes some 4th class). You can get into serious trouble if off-route, and the route is not always obvious. That's why on a busy weekend you will see a good percentage of people turning around at Chickenout.
Here's a TR with my daughters, one of them 10 years old (who had been up half a dozen peaks that summer in preparation):
http://www.splattski.com/2003/borah/index.html

Here's a TR from June 18:
http://www.network54.com/Forum/105717/m ... Borah+Pics

And here's a picture of Borah from June 21 (on the left in the photo, with ChickenOut being its right-hand ridge):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/61489266@N02/5860303596

My advice: Get your son into hiking shape, get some experience on rock, and wait until it dries out. Idaho has tons of great peaks to 'practice' on, and many of them will be in shape that weekend.
Last edited by splattski on Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby IagosGhost » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:32 pm

Splattski--Thanks for the great information. I can see that it probably won't be a good year to climb Borah with my son. I'm sure he could do it if it were dry. But we'll have to readjust our plans. I'm not sure if even I'm willing to climb in such conditions based on our vacation plans. We'll only be in Idaho for 3 days, and then we're going down to Utah for another family reunion. We'll be in Utah for a week, so maybe we'll try for Kings Peak. But it may be snowy too. We'll see!
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby splattski » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:41 pm

If you're going to be near Mackay anyway, I'd recommend Smiley Mountain:
http://www.summitpost.org/smiley-mountain/447372

My TR:
http://www.splattski.com/2009/smiley/index.html

It's standard route is mostly, or possibly all, melted out. Class 2. Awesome views. Possible butt-glissading (always a fave with the kids). And high enough to make an 11-year-old breathe hard!
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby MoapaPk » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:28 pm

Yes, wait till it has less snow. IMHO, the most dangerous part is right after the one steep downclimb on "Chicken-out Ridge" -- it's not the rock, as the "4th class" has huge, stable holds (really 3rd class). The problem is the snow "bridge" which can be extremely slippery early in the morning.

Last year was El Nino year, and the snow stayed later than usual; but from trip reports, it was obvious that there was a lot of melting between mid June and early August, so by Aug 8 the snow that had to be crossed was limited to that one "bridge." This year probably has at least as much snow.

I find trekking poles to be a PITA on class 3 rock; maybe they are useful on a talus-type hike, but I'd much rather have my hands free on something like COR.
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby 96avs01 » Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:04 pm

MoapaPk wrote:"Chicken-out Ridge" -- it's not the rock, as the "4th class" has huge, stable holds (really 3rd class).


Agreed, nowhere near 4th IMHO

MoapaPk wrote:The problem is the snow "bridge" which can be extremely slippery early in the morning.


That and the crowds of people that can make 2-directional traffic a bit challenging at certain spots on COR if people aren't polite and cognizant of each others' exposure

MoapaPk wrote:I find trekking poles to be a PITA on class 3 rock; maybe they are useful on a talus-type hike, but I'd much rather have my hands free on something like COR.


I would suggest just stashing them on the side/back of your pack on the ridge traverse proper and then breaking them out for the other areas including the snow bridge traverse for a little added stability.
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby BeDrinkable » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:37 pm

MoapaPk wrote:Last year was El Nino year, and the snow stayed later than usual; but from trip reports, it was obvious that there was a lot of melting between mid June and early August, so by Aug 8 the snow that had to be crossed was limited to that one "bridge." This year probably has at least as much snow.

This year had more snow and this spring has been cooler, so it's melting even more slowly than last year.
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby asaking11 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:59 am

Just came back from Borah. The snow isn't too bad. The snow bridge wasn't too hard, there is a snow drift further past there that was a bit harder to cross, but it would have been possible to go up and over it. Here's a picture of that snow drift. http://www.summitpost.org/snowfield-on-borah/727370 I didn't use crampons at all, I did use an ice axe for this one section. I would take a rope just in case, when it's talking about a kid there's no questioning when it comes to safety. Trekking poles would be a life saver, I didn't take mine, and my knees still hurt 2 days later. Good luck with the climb, and let me know if you have any questions.
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby IagosGhost » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:37 am

Update: My brother-n-law and I climbed Borah on July 15, 2011. The snow was virtually all gone except for three small patches and the snow bridge. We took ice axes and a picket, but didn't use it. The snow on the bridge was still high enough to make the down climb on COR a very easy 6-8 ft. This was one of the toughest climbs for me for several reasons, but I made it!

It was HP #4 for me. As we were climbing COR I saw another guy climbing up behind us. He was moving quick, and when he caught up to us he asked if he could stay with us. So we three climbed the rest of the way. We were the only ones on the mountian that day. It was his 44th HP.

We climbed up to the first bivy site and camped above the tree line the night before with the full moon illuminating our way. It was very interesting. Then we started out early the next moring and reached the summit around 11 AM. The view was spectacular!

We did not take my son which was the right choice. He would not have been able to finish given his experience (or total lack thereof) on snow and 3rd class scrambling.
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Re: Borah Peak Appropriate for 11 Year Old?

Postby MoapaPk » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:54 am

Good on ya! Now that you've done it, you will feel much more comfortable taking your son later ... when he is ready.
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