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Thread: Borah Peak 12662' (Mt Borah, Idaho HP) 9-30-2010. via Chicken Out Ridge

  1. #1
    Senior Member dom15931's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Western PA

    Borah Peak 12662' (Mt Borah, Idaho HP) 9-30-2010. via Chicken Out Ridge

    A great mountain...And a long awaited victory!

    Seven years ago a friend of mine and I became obsessed with climbing this seemingly unique highpoint. 5200' of elevation gain in 3.5 miles and a reccomended time alotment of 12hrs. Also the route features "Chicken Out Ridge", a class 3 western section of narrow exposed rock ridge. Now I awoke at 4:45 in a motel in Mackay, ID restless prepared to do this peak solo as a side trip on a larger Western vacation with my girlfriend. It was an odd feeling that the day had arrived and that at least an attempt of this western highpoint was going to finally occur. Having spent days vacationing in the Tetons and in Yellowstone and onto Idaho, I felt a little more comfortable with the altitude. I did not, however, feel comfortable with the sinus infection/chest cold I had re developed.

    Having driven to the trailhead the previous evening I still managed to pass it up with the sun not yet even beginning to rise. It was only hills and curves several miles to the west of the access road that woke me up to this fact.I was comfortable doing the hike myself as I had researched and studied it a lot and was from previous trips west and discussions with others familiar that Class III in the west is a little tougher, especially with the exposure. I had a good idea of what to expect, less the altitude, which was about 1650' higher than I had ever been.

    I was the first of what would be only two cars in the parking area that day. It was dark when I departed the car at 6:15. I moved briskly through semi-arid coniferous forest at the base of the mountain. I was surprised at how quickly I made it to 8000'. The temps seemed to be about 45-50, not bad considering the time of year. An hour in I had crested a narrow saddle and was working my way up a series of quick switchbacks in a generally straight direction just under 9k. At this point the sun was beginning to rise. The trail was in good order, not blazed, but well traveled. It was not super rocky.

    The sun hitting the high ranges to the W and SW made for an amazing view, making the mountains appear almost white and snow covered. At 9700' the forest gives up and a heavily worn scree path leads to the ridgline. It is upon reaching this ridge that the summit is finally visable, along with the infamous chicken out ridge. Arriving at about 10500' and approx half way in a little over two hours it felt almost too easy for a guy form Pennsylvania. I noticed no altitude effects on my breathing, etc.

    This is the first elevation, that, despite the short distance of the hike, you kind of get stuck at. A great ravine opens up your left, but the trail maintains its Class 1 walkup nature to the end of this point. Accending to the ridge things become an easy II in my opinion. It gets steeper, and hands are needed here and there going over boulders. The route is evident in direction, but becomes a bit tangled here. There are no blazes, just the occasional cairn.

    Reaching Chicken Out Ridge the hike finally becomes a bit of a mountaineering feat, with a .1 mile or so section of route finding over a razor backed ridge with big exposure on both sides. In most places falls would likely not be fatal, but the esposure is there. The steepness is a bit more than Katahdin's knife edge, and the "knife" itself is sharper, not a foot path with incredible dropoffs, but a craggy and extremely narrow rock ridge. There was some snow, so I stuck to the top of the ridge. At the end there is a 30' or so rock wall that must be first down scaled. This would be considered the crux of the hike for many. Some may like ropes here, but there are good holds and you need not expose yourself to greater falls.

    There is normally a brief snow crossing here, but it was melted back, making my lack of an ice axe, etc, a non issue. The views here become spell bounding ( see pics )I was glad I would not have to turn back. From the start of the ridge and for the next section of the mountain until the final saddle and assent to the summit you hover at 11700'. I noticed my cold got a lot worse here and I had a bit of a headache. Altitude I thought, and now I am stuck here for a while. The last 900' would take a lot of time. Every few steps seemed like dozens. This is another steep scree scramble adding to this easterner's problems at this elevation. I took out my GPS and watched it steadily approach 12600'.

    The summit doesn't fake you out. Cresting you turn 90 degrees or so and within steps American Flags and summit canisters and registers become visible. The feeling was overwhelming. Alone I stood looking down on Idaho. There are breathtaking views are in all directions. I trembled signing my name to the register. I couldn't believe that I finally had accomplished one of my oldest outdoor goals. I will cherish this forever.

    It would be a slow trip down, I took it super easy with the total hike taking 9hr 55m. I would pass one other hiker who easily did the hike in 6hrs.


    Last edited by dom15931; 10-08-2010 at 10:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member skimom's Avatar
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    Aug 2004

    Thumbs up


    Nicely done ... great photos !!

  3. #3
    Senior Member dom15931's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Western PA
    It is still sinking in how fun it was. And to think that the weather would be so nice that whole week. Almost surreal.

  4. #4
    Senior Member TrishandAlex's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    White Mountains, NH
    Fantastic, detailed report! Thanks for taking us along, glad you had such a great time of it.
    [B][SIZE=3]Patricia Ellis Herr (TRISH...ALEX...SAGE)

    Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those doing it. --Chinese proverb.

    For more info about The Terrifying 25, contact me at or search for The Terrifying 25 on Facebook.

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