I grew up in Idaho and have been wanting to climb Mount Borah for a few years; basically since I started climbing mountains over the past little while, Borah has been on my list. I wanted to get it done this year, and I felt like October was the last month I would be able to check it off, without having to do a winter climb.
So, my friend Kim and I set out with the idea to hike a few hours the first day, camp, summit, return to camp, pack our gear, and return to the car. But, a few set backs put us behind schedule and we didn’t end up getting to the base of the mountain until about 7:30pm. The sun was setting, and the thunder clouds were thick.
The rain stopped for a bit, so we geared up by about 8pm and headed up the trail. My headlamp’s batteries could have used a changing, so the trail was dark, but the nearly-full moon peaked out from behind the clouds ever now and again to light our way.
After about an hour of hiking in the dark, we found a relatively flat spot at the top of a hill and set up camp. It seemed like perfect timing, because after our dinner of tuna fish sandwiches we climbed into the tent ready for bed, and the rain started.
The trail continued through the trees and steeply up the hillside until you come up above the tree line to the edge of a cliff. This is where you catch the real first look at Borah Peak. We followed the cliff line and the route flattened out a bit.
After some time, we were lead straight into a rock wall. This is where “chicken-out-ridge” begins. We stuck to the North side of the ridge and followed a flat spot that seemed like the trail. It came down off the rocks with little scrambling required. In fact, we were another hour up the trail before we realized that we had passed “chicken-out-ridge.”
The snow bridge after the ridge was melted and the trail stayed level along the North side of the ridge for the rest of the hike.
Thunder clouds rolled in a bit over the top of the peak, but it was still mostly sunny, so we kept going. The North side of the ridge soon turned into the West face of Borah, and also the steepest part of the hike. Loose gravel and sand topped with snow from the night before made for a slippery process, but in no time we reached the summit.
The view was awesome despite the haze and the clouds. We hung out on top for a bit and as the clouds began to worsen decided to head back. We stopped when the West face turned back into the North side of the ridge and cooked some food on my camp stove.
Once we finished our food, we continued down the ridge and back across “chicken-out-ridge” the the cliffs. Walking along the cliffs we ran into a group of hikers heading up. By this point, the clouds had vanished completely and the temperature was getting warm.
We reached the trees as it began to get hot and were grateful for the shade. When we reached our camp, we packed the rest of our gear up and rested for a few minutes before heading back down the way we came in the moonlight the night before. Eventually, the parking lot came into view and we picked up the pace.
Although we camped and actually spent about 20 hours on the mountain. The actual time spent hiking was about 6-7 hours. The sign at the base warns that it takes 10-12, so we were pretty excited to have done it so quickly.