One could say there are three separate groups of peaks in the Seven Devils Wilderness located near the western border of Idaho just east of Hells Canyon: the north, the middle, and the south. The north group is dominated by He Devil & She Devil
(9,400+ ft each), the Tower of Babel
(9,200+ ft), and The Ogre and The Goblin
(9,256 ft and 8,985 ft respectively). The middle group is dominated by Devils Throne (9,280+ ft) and the Twin Imps
(9,000+ ft). The southern group--which we did not visit because of its added remoteness--is dominated by the likes of Monument Peak
(8,957 ft), Jackley Mountain (8,747 ft), and Pyramid Mountain (8,650 ft). There are subordinate peaks within each area as well. The farther south you go in the wilderness the less often climbed the peaks. This is understandable given that the major trailhead is at the NE end.
Devils Throne is the highpoint of the middle group but, more agreeably, probably the dominate summit in the whole of the wilderness. This is because the peak stands off on its own and therefore appears to tower over its companions--like a statue peering head and shoulders above the busts around it. From the north (from the He Devil group), the peak takes on a steep aspect that offers no obvious ascent line. However, from the south the peak is less formidable looking. Its South Ridge is merely a talus-hopping exercise all the way to the summit.
It should be noted that we did not encounter Satan at the summit. What a let down for me! I wanted to ask him why he has been hassling me so much lately. I guess Satan is afraid of me.
Mt. Belial InformationMt. Belial
is the little 8,880+ ft peak NE of Devils Throne. It features three summits (really just crags along a ridge). I believe the south summit is highest by a few feet. It's a good viewpoint and also a waypoint on the approach to Devils Throne from the He Devil area. The climbing on Belial is Class 3.
Belial was a fallen angel in Milton's Paradise Lost
There are a few ways to get to the vicinity of Devils Throne. None of them are short. Two are trail approaches; two are cross country. We chose the cross-country route. For purposes of brevity and since I'm no expert on the region, I will provide four approaches from the same starting point, that of the Seven Devils Trailhead and Campground.
To get you to this starting point, I will shamelessly quote Martin Cash from his Ogre/Goblin page:
"Drive US95 to the town of Riggins, Idaho. About 1 mile south of town, turn right onto Seven Devils Road, then drive 17.4 miles to the trailhead at Seven Devils Campground at 7,600 feet. The road starts out as paved then becomes steep and winding gravel for the remainder. Watch out for cows on the road, this is a grazing area. Figure on 30 minutes to drive this.
Approach 1: Loop Trail, East Side
This is part of the long trail that loops around the entire wilderness. You want to take the part of it leading south along the east side of the mountains. The trail leads to a feasible cross country final approach to the basin east of the peak.
At the trailhead (7,600 ft) across the road to the south is a sign reading "Cannon Lakes Trail No. 101."
You want to take this trail. It intially goes downhill. What a drag--especially on the return! This trail might also be known as the Old Boise Trail on maps. Suffice it to say, it's there and it leads initially to Lower Cannon Lake (7,000 ft) in 4 miles. You don't actually want to go to the lake. There should be a junction about 0.5 miles before the lake. You want to continue south along the trail here. Continue about 2 more miles to about 6,800 ft. You should now be about 1.5 miles east of Devils Throne. Hike up the drainage toward the peak's large eastern basin. A little pond will be encountered on the way. This pond may be dried up in late season. From this basin attacks can be made on the peak's Northeast Face Route or South Ridge Route. Expect it to take about 4 hours to reach the basin. It could take longer. The cross-country terrain is generally open but strewn with rocks, hummocks, etc..
Imps info: Instead of leaving the trail after 2 miles go another 1 miles to where it crosses Dog Creek at 7,000 ft. Somewhere near here there should be a spur trail leading west to Dog Lake (7,900 ft).
Approach 2: Loop Trail, West Side
The loop trail leaves the Seven Devils Trailhead (7,600 ft) and initially proceeds north away from Devils Throne. You'd want to go this way only if you had a lot of time to burn as a "devil may care" (pun intended). The trail drops in and out of several basins and in about 9 miles reaches Baldy Lake (7,200 ft) in the basin west of Devils Throne. From this lake the South Ridge Route is readily accessible.
Approach 3: Cross Country, High Route
If you're camping on the south side of He Devil/She Devil (perhaps at "Brimstone Lake" 0.3 miles SSE of He Devil), then you can take a high ridge route to Devils Throne. The route goes over Mt. Belial (8,880 ft). Note that Belial has two summits of equal height and a lesser, craggy middle summit. From Brimstone Lake (c. 8,400 ft), hike SSW up the obvious Class-2 talus slope to the Belial's North Summit. Drop down along the ridge, skirting the middle summit crags on their west. You can either ascend the short way to the top of Belial's South Summit to continue along the ridge crest or contour below its west side to eventually come to the rocky 8,600-ft saddle NE of Devils Throne. Expect this approach to take about 2 hours.
Approach 4: Cross Country, Low Route
From "Brimstone Lake" (see Approach 3), instead of going up and over Mt. Belial, you can choose to take the ups and downs of the basins on Belial's east side. Basically, head south from the lake. Descend a short way into the Hanson Lakes drainage, then up to a saddle, then into and out of or above an intermediate basin to a second saddle on South Belial's SE Ridge. Devils Throne should now be obvious to your right (westward). Drop into the basin a bit and contour over to the base of the peak, which is talus, scree, and taluscree. Expect this approach to take about 2 hours.
There are three routes worth mentioning here:
1 -- South Ridge (Class 2-3)
Can be approached from Baldy Lake by continuing ESE from the lake to the upper basin (c. 8,100 ft) then turning due east to gain the 8,840+ ft saddle at the base of the ridge. Another approach is from the basin on the east side of the peak. An upper basin SE of the peak can be used to gain access to the 8,840+ ft saddle. Alternatively, a low-angle gully (may have a snow finger in it) on the base of the east face (see this photo
) leads left to the saddle.
2 -- West Ridge (Class 3/4)
There's a probable route up the West Ridge. It appears the lower part is rockier (see this picture
) and more problematic for routefinding. No doubt a gully or two would greatly improve climbing efficiency.
3 -- Northeast Face (Class 3-4)
No Trail Park Pass required. Imagine that! No permits nor fees to use the wilderness. Nice!
When To Climb
Most people enjoy this area in the summer. I'd say anytime after June 1 ought to give you most of the access you need. Clearly, the earlier it is the more snow will impede or aide your travels (it could cover some of that annoying talus and scree). Ice axe probably mandatory in early season. However, summer means less water availibility and/or the need to filter.
The trailhead is comprised of an upper and lower campground. The lower one down by Seven Devils Lake can be crowded. The upper one is by the trailhead. Or, if everything's taken, there's ample grassy space to throw it down
In the wilderness itself, you can camp anywhere you like. A lot of the terrain is rocky but the basins offer flat aspects and grassy benches, etc. Some lakes dry up as the summer progressses. Also, not all of the drainages have active creeks in them. This be almost desert country, ya know.
As mentioned in Approach 3, there is a small lake we've coined "Brimstone Lake" SSE of He Devil that is an excellent staging area for bagging those devilish peaks.
You can call the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area at 208-628-3916 for info.
(nearest town but may not be representative of weather conditions in the Seven Devils)