After an early season attempt on the West Ridge of Cobb where my friend and I
got caught in an electrical storm, I was eager to get back up on this great
mountain. That attempt ended at the 11,000 foot mark when a thunderstorm rolled
in and caused audible buzzing on our ice-axes, our hair was visibly standing up,
our ears were buzzing, and our fingers hurt. We escaped from a very exposed area
by running down to a cluster of trees on that trip, but it was already 3pm by
that time, so the day was over. This time, the weather was clear and sunny, so I decided to do a solo climb of both Cobb and Old Hyndman.
The trail approach was rather uneventful and I left it around the 9600 foot
mark on the NW side of Cobb's west ridge. From here the going is straight
forward as there's a faint climber's trail. I ascended the west ridge staying
just on the south side of it. Near the top, the going steepens into definitive
Class 4-5 territory. To avoid this, I traversed easily to the south of the last
major pinnacle and found the prominent gully that leads to the summit. Class 3
climbing brought me to the summit with terrific views on a clear day. The summer
of 2009 in Idaho was one of the clearest in the mountains because of the rare
lack of wildfires.
After enjoying the summit views, I was faced with how exactly I was going to
down climb the north or east side of Cobb to get to Old Hyndman. This is where
it got really interesting. I chose to down climb just south of the prominent NE
ridge. The down climbing wasn't too tough at first as the slot I chose turned
into a gully that angled away from the NE ridge and toward the SE. I would
classify it as easy Class 4 as I had to face the rock several times to get down,
but nothing too sustained. Adding to the difficulty was the typical loose rock.
Soon I came to a slot of snow and ice, and after that the gully opened up, and I
thought I was home free. My goal was to reach the Big Basin Lake 10241 to get
When the steep gully opened up I found my self having to fight some seriously
strong geology. A very large sweeping dyke of mostly solid rock blocked the way
to the lake and the valley below. Traveling across this large dyke (1/4 mile
wide and several miles long) required going with the "grain" which was
considerably harder than going against it, which would have provided small steps
and texture. Just below the dyke was a large drop off to the valley, also. I
carefully smeared my way down the dyke and did some high mountain friction /
slab climbing easily in the Class 4 realm. Several spots were challenging Class
4 that got the blood flowing. Soon I found a small slot down a steep gully that
led me to the valley below. Here I filtered water and contemplated the next
objective, Old Hyndman.
Near Lake 10241, I spied 6 Mountain Goats on Cobb Peak and I also looked up
at the NE ridge of Cobb Peak that traversed over to Old Hyndman just above me.
Despite having to do all the Class 4 scrambling to get here, this ridge looked
pretty exposed, and without a rappel rope, harness, and slings, I was sure I
chose the easier route. Soon I was easily climbing over the large boulders
toward the SE ridge of Old Hyndman. Near here, the slope steepens before the
ridge and I saw 2 more Mountain Goats, even closer this time. Once on the SE
Ridge of Hyndman I saw the famous black dyke that leads to the summit.
Once at the black dyke I actually found climbing the ledges just to the right
of the dyke to be just as easy because the rock was more solid. Coming down,
though, I opted for the black dyke for the security it provided while down
climbing. The summit of Old Hyndman is reached easily after exiting the black
dyke area onto a broad slope. I made my way down past Lake 10241 again and
enjoyed afternoon light on Jacqueline and McIntyre Peaks. I left Big Basin and
passed a nice waterfall below before reaching the valley below where the going
really slowed due to a lack of any kind of trail and thick brush. After a fairly
rough bushwhack through the lower Big Basin Valley, I found the Hyndman Creek
trail and settled in for the remaining easy hike out.
14.1miles and 6444 feet gain (roundtrip)