She Angel on He Devil
The main objective for my trip to Idaho was to climb He/She Devil with Duane who needed He/She Devil
to catch up with SPer rfbolton
in their quest to complete the 57 Ultra Prominence Peaks
in the lower 48 states. Since it is a long drive from Medford, Oregon to Idaho, I wanted to add at least one more climb to the itinerary. I chose Monument Peak.
I climbed Monument Peak on Friday, July 20, 2007 and then headed to the Seven Devils Campground on the northeast side of the He/She Devil location. Monument Peak is only about 8 air miles from He/She Devil, but driving it is about 130 miles. It took me quite a while to get to the campground, but I arrived about 6:30PM and was Duane wasn’t there yet. This campground was only about half full, so I found a good spot near the trailhead we would be using and settled in. Within an hour Duane found me and we soon made ourselves comfortable so that we could get up early the next day. It was going to be a long day.
As soon as it was light enough to see, Duane and myself were up and getting ready. We each had a little something for breakfast and then we headed up the trail to Seven Devils Lake. It was only about 200 yards from our campsite, and then we started looking for a trail that is the shortcut to Sheep Lake. We knew where we wanted to go because we could see the pass up ahead of us, but we were soon in the brush climbing a steep rocky area. Somehow we missed the trail, so we started traversing to our right and finally found a wide well used trail heading in the direction we wanted to go. The trail was leading directly at a cliff and we both hoped that we didn’t have to climb it. We saw a mountain goat along cliffs here and he entertained us for a few minutes.
Just before the cliff, the trail turns right and climbs a rocky ramp up to the ridgeline. Once at the ridgeline we followed the trail along the ridge high above Mirror Lake to our left. The Tower of Babel is right behind Mirror Lake. At the other end of the ridge, before it drops down to Sheep Lake we assessed our situation and decided to take the High Route to She Devil. We left the trail and followed the ridge towards the Tower of Babel. No problems on this section were encountered. There seems to be a climbers trail to follow all the way over to an area of grayish colored rocks on the ridge.
Here the fun began and needed an Angel on these Devil Mountains. We didn’t want to climb the Tower of Babel and we had neither the skills nor hardware necessary for an attempt from the north, so we followed others suggestions to descend on the scree to the west a couple hundred feet and come back up to another saddle on the south side of the Tower of Babel. Going down the scree/talus wasn’t a lot of fun. We tried to traverse northward as we descended but we ended up just going down to a large bare rocky area at the bottom of the scree/talus slope about 500 ft below the ridgeline. We then traversed over to where it looked like others climbed a scree/talus slope up to the ridge. This ridge on the south side of the Tower of Babel is about 200ft higher in elevation than the north side, so we struggled up this steep slope for 700ft to the ridge. It was difficult to find good footing most of the way up that slope, but we didn’t kick any rocks on each other, so we were successful. Must have been an Angel watching out for us.
After a short break to catch our breath, we then followed the ridge around to She Devil. There is a little climbers trail to follow on this section and it continues on to the northeast side of She Devil before leading right up to the summit. Great views except for the increasing smoke from nearby fires. It took us about 4 hours to reach this summit from the trailhead.
We didn’t stay long and we wanted to tag He Devil before heading home. My GPS said He Devil was only .38 mile away. From the topo’s it looks like you can just scramble down the west side of She Devil and up the east side of He Devil. I’m sure some of you SP’ers have done that, but Duane and I are old guys with no rock climbing skills so we have to be more creative.
Down climbing the west side of She Devil is definitely Class 3. We even put our trekking poles in our packs so we could use our hands more effectively. It took us a while and on the way down Duane scared off another mountain goat, but we eventually got to the He/She saddle. Neither one of us wanted to tackle the east side of He Devil so we decided to go down the chute towards Sheep Lake and then traverse over to the northwest ridge of He Devil and come up the traditional route.
We needed an Angel to help us on this route and she showed up just in time. Going north down the chute from the He/She saddle was not fun. Lots of scree and it moved with us. At times we were boot skiing with tons of rocks moving with us. I let Duane go first and thankfully I didn’t kick any rocks directly on him. I thought I lost him once when he got a massive amount of rocks moving with him, but somehow he managed to stay on top of them and then get off to the side before being buried. We descended at least 400 ft before the rocks became more secure and we were into rock hopping. The topo shows a permanent snow field in this chute, but it was very small and easily bypassed.
Once we were on the less steep slope, it was rock hopping on large rocks for quite a ways and we descended to about 8,200ft before heading directly west toward the north west ridge. This was a miserable part of the climb from the He/She saddle to just south of the loop trail where we got off the rocks. Our Angel looked out for our welfare on this part of the hike.
There are two small drainages that we had to pass through before we got to the northwest ridge. As we were climbing out of the second drainage up to the northwest ridge we met a real live She Angel on He Devil. A young woman was hiking alone trying to get to the top of He Devil. At this point in our climb, these two old climbers needed any inspiration we could find, so we invited her to join us as we climbed the ridge. Thankfully, we must have looked pretty non-threatening and she came along.
The northwest ridge doesn’t have any technical difficulties so the time passed quickly chatting with our new friend as we climbed the last 1,000 ft to the summit. We tagged the summit a full 4 hours after we tagged She Devil. Not a bad time for .38 mile.
I was pretty tired, but we still had to get back to the car by dark. After dutifully taking our summit pictures, we headed back down the ridge. When we reached the loop trail that heads down to Sheep Lake we said goodbye to our She Angel as she was camped at Basin Lake and had to head in another direction.
We followed the trail down to Sheep Lake, passed a couple of campers at the south end of Sheep Lake, followed a trail around the east side of Sheep Lake to the north end, and picked up the trail that heads up to the ridgeline and Mirror Lake. The trail up to the ridge from Sheep Lake is steep and scenic. But I was tired and wore out. It took me a long time to get up to the ridge. We followed the trail all the way back to Seven Devils Campground and got there 12 hours after we left. We had only covered about 8.7 miles but can claim nearly 5,000 ft of elevation gained.
This was a tough day for an old guy. Thankfully, a She Angel came along when we needed her to get us to the top of He Devil.