On July 14th, 2019 I completed what I believe to be the first traverse of the Boulder Crest in the Boulder Mountains of Idaho in 9:20:48. I planned a route that began at highway 75, where Boulder Creek meets the highway (it’s the top of “Phantom Hill” ), and continued to traverse the prominent peaks visible from the highway until you reach Galena Lodge. The idea was simple: get up to the ridgeline as quickly as possible, and then stay on the ridge until you have to drop down to Galena Lodge.
I started my trip at 5:32 AM from the Boulder Creek parking area on highway 75. From there I ran 3.5 miles up Boulder Creek road to a drainage below Crown Point on Boulder Peak. I ascended the main creek until it forked, at which point I took the east fork and scrambled up the narrow creek. The creek consisted of mostly second and third class terrain. The small creek opens up into a large featureless bowl below the east ridge of Boulder Peak. The featureless bowl does carry water well into July, and it’s generally your last water source until you reach Cherry Creek a few miles from Galena Lodge. I filled up two 600ml containers and continued up the bowl until I gained the ridge. From the ridge, it was easy second class scrambling to the summit of Boulder Peak.
After Boulder Peak, the route was pretty straightforward: stay on the ridge as much as possible and summit every prominent point until you hit Peak 10941. The peaks climbed were, in order: Boulder Peak, Peak 10838, Boulder Basin Peak, Silver Peak, Peak 10726, Lorenzo Peak, Peak 10900, Easley Peak, Peak 10921, Peak 11046, Cerro Ciento Peak, and Peak 10941. I got stuck at an impassable section of ridgeline at Peak 10941, which prevented me from finishing the route by climbing Galena Peak. My only route up Galena Peak would have necessitated dropping 3,000 feet and climbing back up to avoid the impassable section of ridgeline. I decided to keep my ridgeline traverse idea purely a ridgeline traverse, and so I bailed into Cherry Creek after Peak 10941. While I consider Galena Peak to be part of the Boulder Crest, connecting it to the rest of the Boulder Crest via the main ridge is a serious climbing pursuit not in line with running a continuous ridgeline; it would necessitate exposed fifth class climbing.
While the Boulder Crest Traverse route is generally pretty simple, there are two cruxes to be aware of. Silver Peak is the most technical and difficult peak to climb. To summit, I dropped off of the south side of the ridge and picked my way through fourth class scrambling until I regained the ridge almost at the summit. The rock on Silver Peak is crumbly and rotten. Make sure to check holds and always have multiple points of contact. I never trusted myself solely on one hold. Once I regained the ridge, it is pretty easy third class scrambling to the true summit. However, the exposure is high and a fall would have serious consequences.
The second crux of the climb is Lorenzo Peak. The summit route from its eastern ridge required me to, again, drop off of the south side of the ridge a little way and scramble up the south face. The terrain was generally third class, with sections of fourth class. The rock was unstable, but a little bit better than Silver Peak. I found Lorenzo Peak to be an easier ascent than Silver Peak. Again, while the climbing is not fifth class, a fall would surely result in injury or death.
After Lorenzo Peak and Silver Peak, things became much less technical. The ridge running improved immensely, meaning that I could actually run. I stayed as high as reasonably possible on the ridgeline for the remainder of the trip. There are a couple of towers that need to be skirted and lesser peaks that do not necessitate a climb, but I climbed everything I could, including the smaller peaks. As much as the route was a Point A to Point B endeavor, it was also important to stay on the ridgeline whenever possible.
Once I reached Peak 10941, I bailed off the ridge into Cherry Creek. The Grinder mountain bike trail intersects the north side of the Cherry Creek drainage. From there, various trails link up to Galena Lodge. I chose to link The Grinder to Spring Creek to Forest Service Road 200 to Galena Lodge. I think that is the most straightforward route, but there are other options. I finished once I arrived at the Galena Lodge deck. Water, food, beer, and other goodies are available most days during the summer. There is a nice soaking pool in the creek at the north end of the parking lot. I would recommend soaking in the creek and grabbing a drink to finish things up properly.