One version of Reality on Mt. Borah
So I wanted to make a quick TR for our hike up Borah to give a few tid bits of info and hopefully offer some insights that may not have otherwise been stated.
First of all, one interesting note is the elevation. I am sure there is some physics, satellite issues, barometric pressure, and a hundred other aspects that go into measuring a mountains height, but here was my observation. At the peak, we had two GPS units, my garmin csx60, which has always proved to be deadly accurate and an eTrex Summit. Both units put the summit (while laying on the ground) at 12.692 +or - 8 feet. This ranges it from 12,700 or 12,684...not 12,662 listed here on SP.
Ok with that out of the way...We camped at the camping area, and in the morning we got a nice start at 7:45, summited at 12:00 straight up. We didn't pass to many people, though there were a lot of people on the trail, which leads me to believe, we had a pretty average pace. So to summit, plan on it taking a touch over 4 hours. The Weather was AMAZING, you couldn't have asked for a better day, ZERO wind, a few super high, small puffy clouds way in the distant to the east, not hot, not cold, just right. We ate lunch at the summit with a cold breeze coming through for just a second every 5 to 10 minutes...but only on the summit. We left the summit at 1:20 got to our vehicles at 3:25, again, average descent speed, so plan on 3 hours.
The hike, right from the get go starts out with a gradual up hill slope but quickly increases in angle for the first 2 miles. Levels every so slight for a short distance and then picks up angle at an exponential rate until you get to "Chicken Out Ridge" (COR). I'll be the first to shout biased at my own opinion because I have been actively rock climbing for the past 16 years of my life, so with that disclaimer....I don't think chicken out ridge is difficult. Some precaution should be taken, and you'll slow down for the fist initial steep part that is like 30 feet or so in height, but I had my trekking poles and never need to to use all fours to climb up. The two others in my party did get on all fours, but they didn't have trekking poles either so those are options. To convey the idea that anyone could do it though, I make that statement.
When we arrived at the end of the ridge their was a bit of a bottle neck with about 15 people waiting their turn to climb down the 15+ foot drop back to the trail and the hold up was a man and his wife who were well into their 70's and they did it!!! I saw them at the summit just 40 minutes behind us. The gentleman was wearing a tie!!! It was like he woke up and got dressed for the day and his wife was like,
"dear what should we do today?"
---"Hell, Mae, I don't know, I just wanna go fishi'n."
"well dear you fished yesterday, can you take me for a quick walk through the woods? little Jimmy said Borah peak was fun..."
---"Alright lets go"
My group bypassed the 15 or so people along with grandpa and grandma by doing an easy traverse on the North side of the ridge.
The most difficult part of the hike is the last push from the saddle after "COR" up to the peak and I found out on the way down there is a much easier way to summit and descend. You may call fowl play, but when at the saddle you can clearly see the trail. In the middle of the trail there is band of yellowish dirt - this yellowish band is in a small depression/gap/weakness that represents the steepest and loosest section of rock/dirt/trail. Just before you head up into this steep crux section of the trial you take the path of least resistance to the arete/ridge line to the East and then immediately take the path of least resistance back to the trail and by pass that section...you'll save time and energy trying to get through that with the added plus of not knocking rocks down on the varying parties below you. It is not intuitive, I found this solely because of a proposed photo opportunity which lead me through that path but it took my group 10-15 minutes longer to negotiate that one bad section even though I had to cover two or three times the distance.
I HIGHLY recommend trekking poles, they will save your knees.
As far was water goes, we each carried a small lumbar pack with a reservoir of 50 oz's and then at the two mile marker we each stashed a 12 oz H2O bottle which we didn't end up using...but just in case. The water would vary with physical fitness and temperature.
That is my report, I highly recommend doing this hike it was a lot of fun, and the photos really don't do Mt. BORAH justice, this area was amazingly beautiful and difficult to photograph. Because of the light colored rock and the bright sun, our morning shots could get the right exposure and our mid day pictures were bleached, so be weary of the photos you see on the net...just go in person and enjoy the natural beauty this place has to offer. I found this hike much more enjoyable than many of the other hikes I've done in the past and seriously underestimated how great this hike was. I give the hike 4.7 starts out of 5
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