I made my 29th ascent of Mt Borah on Wednesday by way of a new route that starts on the East Face and finishes on the Northeast Ridge route. 16 pitches of snow, rock, more snow and even a bit of WI2 water ice. One more? We'll see next year.
I've been up Borah 29 times now and I have to agree, there are a couple of places where you could fall a hundred feet or more. In particular, the short hand/foot traverse from the "V" notch to the Tan Band is one of those places. Granted, you won't free fall 100 feet but you sure could take a nasty fall there.
I climbed Borah Peak as a Boy Scout, now almost two decades later it's fun to recall parts of that climb. Chicken out ridge was longer with more scrambling than I remembered. The highlight of my first trip was the down climb and crossing the snow/ice glacier at the end of chicken out ridge. This trip my highlight was probably the magnificent view from the summit of the mountains to the east. Also the rush of being at 12,662 feet and breathing the thin air felt pretty cool.
I summited with my brother and my sister-in-law... who both had each made several attempts but not reached the summit.
So the hike was a repeat and a success.
We woke up early in the morning to find that 4-5 inches of fresh snow had fallen above about 10,000'. Quite a few people at the trailhead decided not to climb it that day because of that. We went ahead and started anyways.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect about COR, as I had read some people calling it class 4, while others saying 3. After a steep climb, we finally arrived at COR. It is not class 4, maybe class 3+. There was one move to make it to the permanent snow field that I might have considered class 4 though.
At this point the summit was visible, and even though there was the 4 inches of fresh snow, it wasn't too bad, and we made the summit at 11 in the morning. Beautiful day from the top of Idaho!
Sorry, but I have to disagree. This is how REI defines class 3: "Climbing steep a hillside, moderate exposure, a rope may be carried but not used, and hands are used in climbing. A short fall could be possible." And this is how they define class 4: "It is steeper yet, exposed and most people use a rope due to the potential of long falls.". Apparently, it is not the scarcity of the foot and hand holds that separates class 4 from class 3, rather long vs. short falls. And potential falls on COR are by any measure the long ones. More than once you are on your fingers and toes over couple hundred feet drop-off - that's class 4. Subway hike at Zion requires at least 3 rappels, and it's still class 3, because the drop-offs are no more than 10 feet, and a fall would result in no more than twisted ankle. And "vertigo" does change class for some - half dozen people died on "Angel's landing" hike, even though it's just class 2.
Made it to the top after resting and hydrating just before chicken out ridge. The group I was with went on with out me after my insistance. Later they were surprised to see me asending when they were returning from the sumit. I did a stupid thing. I left my treking poles near the base of chicken out ridge near where others had left their poles. When I returned from the summit, they were no where to be found. I was awfully walking down the mountain with out them.
Sorry, but I have to clarify this a little. "Foot and hand holds are good and abundant" does mean that it is class three. The inability of a climber to negotiate or find those hand holds does not change the class. Having an "experienced friend" with you does not change climbing class either. It will only help you negotiate in the same way that a GPS will help you navigate. Better shoes will not change the length of a mile. "Vertigo" does not change class. Put a Class III ridge from Borah on a hill near Boise and it is still a class III ridge. I am not trying to tear apart your post, but to put class 4 and 5 on this WILL scare people off. The truth of the matter is that Chicken out ridge is about a class 3 scramble. Some people will negotiate it more easily than others depending on their experience and capabilities. This does not change the class. This is not a trail to the top of a hill, this is a climb. There is some risk and there is some exposure. People should not attempt it if they are not comfortable finding and using available hand and foot holds as that is what a class 3 is. I appreciate your post, but do not want people to be mislead. I have climbed Borah 3 times and had I read your post prior to my first attempt, I probably would not have gone even though I am completely capable. I do appreciate your advice to take someone along that is more experienced. Anyone can benefit from that.
2nd time successfully climbing Borah. Perfect weather all day. Such a beautiful mountain to have as our tallest!
Summited, with a gentleman from the east coast, was a great trip up, boots sucked on the way down
Thought we had better bag the highest in the state before heading back to the UK after enjoying a great couple of weeks in the Sawtooths.
My fastest time car to summit to car was 5 hours 30 minutes.
Did this on the way home from doing Rainier for the 4th time and Hood. Fun climb only took half a day!
What a fun scramble! Drove up from Utah and camped at the trailhead on Friday. Got an early start just before 5 am the next morning and was to the top just before 9 am. The hike up to the peak is steep and my headlamp was dying on me. When I got above the tree line to the ridge the sun's light was just coming up. I could see Borah's outline. COR was fun. At first I didn't realize that I was on it. The rock is solid on COR and I didn't feel that the exposure was that bad. The crux right before the snow bridge was the only real issue I had, but all I had to do was face the rock and climb down. Good hand and foot holds. The snow was melted at the bridge and I crossed snow free. From there the trail wrapped around to the open saddle and I could view the final steep section to the top of Idaho. I stopped following the trail about midway to the top and went straight for the top of the ridge and from there I went to the top. With my early start and not taking a break until I got to the top I had the peak to myself. It was a beautiful morning! Called my wife at the top and took pictures. I followed the trail back down to the saddle and then back to COR. Passed a ton of people and was glad that I got up so early. I found the scramble heading down on COR was more enjoyable, maybe it was the fact that I could see the whole ridge this time. Made it to the tree line in shortly after I was off COR. By this time I knew my knees would be screaming and I slowed my pace. Being in the dark coming up, the trail didn’t seem that steep, but coming down I was praying for any type of relief for my knees. This last section of the trail seemed to never end and when I could see my car at the trailhead I was so glad to be done. From the time I spent at the top to coming down it took me about 3 ½ hours. I stopped and talked to almost everyone coming up. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one that this was the first time doing Borah. Overall this was one of the best peaks I have done. Very steep, lung buster, fun with a nice challenge at Chicken Out Ridge. It was a great weekend.
I agree with mountainvlad. I thought the most dicey stretches of COR are at the transistion from the knife edge ridge and shortly before (on the way up) the snow ridge.
Summated Aug 16, 2011
This is a great climb for a good hiker that wants more challenge. But let me set the Chickenout ridge thing straight: it's not a "class 3" scramble, but rather a solid class 4 that can easily turn into class 5, once you make a wrong move. Once you cross a V-notch threshold, the exposure is constant, with just a short break on the trail along the tan band. True, the foot- hand-holds are good and abundant. Problem is, a mere mortal non-climber doesn't see them, until someone with more experience points them. Yes, if you have an experienced friend with you, or someone on the mountain to show you the way, this may turn into "class 3 scramble"... only if you don't look down. Give me a break, class 3 assumes "occasional exposure", not "constant exposure on both sides for 300 yards".This is by no means to scare you away, just don't be mislead by many reports like "COR was fun and easy... don't know what all fuss about..." There are climbers, and there are hikers, and there are people with vertigo problems. They all can climb this beautiful mountain, just need to take it more seriously to avoid chickening out. If you need experienced friend - take him. If you feel that you need a rope - take it, and don't feel ashamed thinking that thousands people climb exposed ridges without it and you need one. More practical advice for beginners. Sugar-up before COR with caffeine. You are not hungry at high altitude, however, you need energy, and caffeine helps AMS. Trim you toenails short, this will help to avoid black toenails on the way down. If you come from sea level, spend a weak at Yellowstone (at over 8000 feet) first. If you got a really bad headache, take advil and rush down. Do not try to sleep on the mountain with bad case of AMS (like some people did!), it will get worse and may turn dangerous. Have fun, like I did!
Excellent day to summit with friend Dr. Steve. 100 mile visibility, summit temps. in the 50s, light winds. One of my more challenging day hikes. Must have met 100 people on the trail. Amazed and entertained to climb with Emma the dog (part mountain goat) to the summit. #26 HP.
We had excellent mountain conditions and perfect weather on the ascent. However, we stayed too long on the summit and had to hurry down the ridge below COR to reach tree line before a storm arrived. Back at the trail head, we celebrated summiting with the fresh brew we had picked up from Porneuf Valley Brewing on the drive from SLC. What a great day!
Summited also on 9/3/2010 in celebration of my "big" birthday. I may retire this one. My knees are telling me to consider new peaks over repeats.
Only ones above COR! Clouds were in and out but so was the sun!