This was my first Western state high point, my first Rocky summit, and my second climb that involved Class 3 scrambling (after Katahdin's Knife-Edge earlier this summer). Though Chicken-Out Ridge was shorter than the Knife-Edge and the cruxes were about the same difficulty, I found it to be more consistently taxing. The rest of the hike up Borah was pretty much just a slog through various grades of dirt and scree. I wouldn't say the final stretch was harder than COR, since the terrain wasn't quite as bad (nor were the consequences of a fall), but it was definitely loose and awkward and thin-aired. But it was all worth it to reach the summit and look out upon... a bunch of dusty gray hills. Which, to be fair, had their own stark beauty... but don't y'all have any trees out here?
(And to Monkey Hat, if you're reading this, thanks for the moral support on the way up!)
Beautiful weather for a great day on the mountain. Guide 2 friends up the mountain. One friend this was his Anniversary of 7 years sobriety.
Started just before 4 to stay ahead of high wind forecast in the afternoon. COR wasn't as bad as I expected (at the first steep section we went straight up, then crossed onto the climbers right hand side of the ridge). From there we crossed the notch and stayed on the climbers left side of the ridge before climbing up to the ridge again to do the down climb to the saddle. There was no snow of any consequence.
Despite lots of worrying about COR, it wasn't that bad (from someone who enjoys scrambles/slides in the Adirondacks and Whites). The last 1k feet were really the hardest part of the day due to the loose footing and altitude.
Cruised into the parking lot from Seattle at about 1-2 a.m. Woke up at 6, cooked up some breakfast, and was on the trail by 7. I was the last person to start and thus the last person to to summit, which meant I had it all to myself, which was lovely.
The return trip pounded the heck out of my joints and muscles, and by the time I returned to the car, I was more beat down than I'd expected. I have 2 big toenails that look like they are about to shoot off like pogs. But man what a wonderful hike on a beautiful day.
A note on the bypass on Chicken-Out Ridge: I took it on the way back on the advice of another hiker. My opinion is that you do not save very much time nor effort by taking it, least of all by investing time seeking it out.
The descent/ascent on scree adjacent to the snow on the bypass makes it a zero-sum gain. Which, by the way, my opinion is that the last 800 vertical feet of scree and boulders to the summit is far more notable and taxing than Chicken-Out Ridge.
Above all, bear in mind that "shortcut" or no, Borah Peak still requires a solid base of fitness and some basic technical skill. There is no cheating one's way to a summit, and the mountains offer no forgiveness.
I was part of a group of 16 who all successfully reached the summit on a beautiful day. Having previously summited Borah five times, all during the month of August, I was somewhat anxious about the amount of snow and ice we would encounter on Chicken Out Ridge and the final 800 feet up to the summit. There was a small snow field in the middle of Chicken Out Ridge that was easily crossed and will melt off quickly over the next several weeks. Then the snowfield that extends across from "The Nose" had a lot of snow and ice remaining. The crossing was pretty sketchy. About halfway across the snowfield, there was were footsteps that dropped down the side of the snowfield back to the trail. Without crampons and an ice axe, this short section could lead to a major disaster. Our group proceeded straight across the snow bridge to the rocks above the main trail. We then down climbed back down to the main trail. While this did take a little more time, it was a safer option. On the final ascent to the summit, there were several small snow patches that were easily detoured around. They also will likely soon melt away. The weather was amazing with very warm temperatures and little wind. After almost two hours on the summit, the group safely made its way back down the mountain.
Had a great time on this peak! My party had the entire peak to ourselves this early in the season, and it was very peaceful in this remote stretch of mountains. The snow isn't quite melted, but gets very soft once the sun comes up. We made it past COR but were uncomfortable with the soft snow past the knife-edge (even with crampons and ice axe) and we turned around at 11800'. I'm anxious to get back and summit later this summer.
Perfect day with a great group of guys.
Second attempt since the previous year I got within
200 ft of the summit before a massive electrical storm
turned me back.
This mountain is so brutally steep that I eventually lost
7 toenails from the pounding they took coming down.
Spent the night at the trailhead enabling an early start. Several climbers returned to the parking lot after dusk, their headlights illuminating the way. I got 'off-route' at Chicken Out Ridge realizing this couldn't be the way. After down climbing to regain the route, my comfort level increased exponentially. Climbed during the week in the summer. I was extremely cautious across COR and navigating through the boulders near the summit being the only person on the mountain that day. My rental car was all alone in the parking area. An Idaho state flag accompanied the United States' flag at the summit.
Kessler and I climbed Borah Peak today. Since we were rather sleep deprived, we didn't get as early start as we wanted and left at 6:30 AM. It was just getting light, so we didn't bother bringing the headlamps. Luckily it wasn't nearly as windy as the day before, but it was still fairly cold for the time of year.
The climb went faster than expected and we made our way to Chicken Out Ridge. We passed several people, but only one passed us.
Since the sun was hidden behind the mountain until we hit Chicken Out Ridge, it was quite cold. There was moisture in the air and my hait kep freezing and some of the rocks were covered with verglas. There was a little fresh snow as well. We stayed warm, but I wished that I had brought the gloves because the rock was very cold on our bare hands. Luckily the exposed sections weren't to iced up.
We went right over the Chicken Out Ridge without any trouble. After that, it was just a steep scree hike to the summit. We made the summit in 4 hours 22 minutes, at a moderate pace. The views were great and the wind had nearly stopped when we were on the summit. Two climbers who just left the summit told us that it was really windy, so we got lucky. There was a squirrel right at the summit which was intent on eating climber food. Hopefully it descends and finds food for the winter.
The summit had a flag and rocks that were coated in ice and hoarfrost, but it was a pleasant scene. After enjoying the summit for a half an hour or so, we descended. Most people must have turned back at Chicken Out since we only saw one group that we passed on the way up. This time we saw and took the bypass trail around the Chicken Out section, but it was unpleasant scree and I think the ridge itself is a better route.
We were back at the car 8 hours and 15 minutes after starting. It was a good climb.
Best friend and I decided a year ago to climb Borah. 3 weeks before the day I sprained my ankle. Decided to do it anyway. It hurt. It really really hurt, but success! Awesome experience!
The first time I said never again. Then my daughter got the climbing bug and asked if I'd take her before she went off to college. Of course I said yes and it was awesome. A very cool experience to share with my one and only kid! We plan to do all 9 12k peak. 3/9 done.
Trip report https://summitsofthestates.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/idaho-nevada/
I would definitely recommend bringing lots of water on this one! Chicken Out isn't so bad if you're good at climbing/scrambling.
Left the trailhead at 8:00 sharp and was confused when I got to the summit at 10:45 without crossing COR. I accidentally followed a trail that skirted around the left side of COR, and only did that final 20' descent. I made sure to stay on top of the ridge on the way down. Only 1 other party summited that day.
I'm adding this a year later after hearing about 3 search and rescue incidents this summer alone from parties trying to skip COR. This is awful for all people involved and I'd like to help prevent future incidents. I mentioned my mistake here because I missed out on the funnest part of the climb. If COR doesn't sound fun to you then you should stay off Borah because you won't summit. EXPOSED SCRAMBLING IS REQUIRED! My above mistake of following a goat path required exposed scrambling on even sketchier terrain to get back to the ridge. Please look at the photos of COR- if you're not comfortable with that I highly recommend Hyndman as an alternative. It's almost as tall and a more appealing hike. You'll love it! If it's state highpoints you're after be advised that Borah is rated #6 in terms of difficulty. It's one of a handful that you can't just hike (or drive) to the top of. If you don't have the appropriate climbing experience but really want this summit consider going with a professional guide. Please no more rescue operations.
SW Ridge. After initial COR scramble I followed a trail below and north of the "darker" section, ascending a ramp/chute back to ridge top just 50' from the 3rd class descent to the saddle. Found the overall ascent steep! Thank goodness there's an excellent trail!
Hiked up the standard route of Borah Peak in perfect weather, and didn't have to cross any snow. The scrambling along the ridge was solid and fun, and there were plenty of options to either stay on easy class 3 terrain or try something harder. The views near the top, especially of the other peaks to the south, were quite impressive. See "Roof of Idaho" trip report for details.
Where was COR? Where was the snowbridge? It appears that the standard trail now crosses the snowpatch below where the snowbridge should have been.
At first sight it didn't seem possible, but there is a trail up the summit pyramid. :)
I really enjoyed this mountain. It is fairly short, but steep. The views of the surrounding peaks were amazing. The trail was well maintained and the scrambling sections were a lot of fun. Very beautiful.
A glorious mountain with a gnarly standard route to boot. One of my favorite climbs in all of the West.
Most significant experience with exposure yet. It was after tackling chicken-out-ridge with little difficulty that I first began to believe I had a real chance at taking the State Highpointing thing all the way to the end. Memorable day.