Land Of Sky Blue Waters-Mt. Borah Idaho

Land of Sky Blue Waters

Hello Friends,Three weeks ago I received a post card with a picture of a jagged barrenmountain range and the message "Mt. Borah awaits El Lobo Grande! Beafraid......be very afraid!!!Mt. Borah lies in the Big Lost River Range in Idaho..This served notice that my annual trip into the Idaho frontier with mygoodfriend Steve Otoole was coming up soon. Last year we backpacked Hell'sCanyon, the year before we hiked the Sawtooths. Steve's card made melaughnervously. Mt. Borah (Idaho's highest point) was only 12,662'-How difficultcan that be? I mean Humphrys peak (Arizona's highest point) is 12,600' andconsidered only a moderately difficult climb -- just a walk in the park. Iput the card with the majestic peak on the refrigerator. The knife-edgedridge couldn't be that tough?Steve picked me up at the airport Thursday evening and we immediatelyheadedfor the Ram's Head, directly across the street from Boise State, to slamdown a couple of local microbrews and plan the logistics for the trip.The next morning we drove to the Craters of the Moon National Monument andenjoyed some light hiking in a landscape full of detail and surprises. Oneearly travelor dubbed Craters of the Moon "The strangest 75 miles on theNorth American continent".That afternoon we camped at the base of Mt. Borah. We talked to a number ofclimbers that had just come off the mountain. No one had summitted.Some had turned back at Chicken out ridge while others were chased down bythe ferocious afternoon Thunder storm that was in progress.The campground was quite full of climbers that were going up the nextmorning. This particular August weekend is the most optimum for the climb.Approximately 200 climb Borah every year and it seemed like they were allthere for this weekend. During a break in the thunderstorm half a dozenguysassembled below the mountain, all staring at the steep path. Steve hasclimbed Borah twice and had quite a bit of route finding information thatwasabsorbed like a sponge.The Thunderstorms started again and continued well into the night. Wedecidedto start at 4 in the A.M. do a check on the weather, start in the dark andget down before the next days storms rolled in. The climb is only 3.5 milesto the top but the elevation gain is 5200' so you gain approximately 1500'per mile. Borah is primarily a climbers mountain with just one route thatisaccessible to the advanced hiker.The first two miles were completed in the dark. Being numb and not seeingthesteepness helped us to get to Chicken out ridge just after first light. Wescrambled along the knife ridge , up loose rocks, inclines and cliffs. Thesnowfield in the middle of the saddle had turned to solid ice. Muchverticalexposure there.Steve went a route above the icefield and I foolishly chosethe icefield path. Big mistake.I felt like I was on a tightrope. Should have roped up. Fortunate to getacross.The last 800' up Borah was yet another scramble on loose rock.On top of the summit we stared down at three glistening lakes. Thepanoramicview takes in several mountain ranges as well as beautiful valley.Going back, I stayed away from the ice-crossing and the climb up the ridgewas a little less nerve racking.The rest of the climb down was relatively easy and we really enjoyed it. Wecelebrated with a beer and then packed up for the drive to Red Fish Lake inthe Sawtooths where we planned to camp. The campgrounds were full but wehada great dinner and beers at the lodge and then drove to Stanley Lake wherewecamped. This lake was so clear and the environment so pristine that Ithoughtthat this truly must be "The land of sky Blue waters"Idaho is a well guarded secret and a Wilderness paradise.We set out our chairs on the edge of the lake and broke out the Tequila,saltand lime. After this fun, we went to our campgrounds, built a fire anddrankthe rest of the beer and wine. We rolled into bed after exchanging wolfhowls, barks and other animal sounds with the campers up the road. Thenextmorning we had a leisurely breakfast and then took a scenic route back toBoise through the mountains and Idaho city.I arrived back home at 10:30 in the evening to yet another spectacularThunderstorm that closed the Phoenix airport minutes after arriving. I hadtowait 45 minutes for my luggage that had been misrouted, then retrieved mycarfrom a swamp in the parking lot. Arrived home close to midnight, and had arestless few hours of sleep in anticipation of a tough Monday-Monday atthecorporation."Monday morning I've got Friday on my mind"-Easybeats 1967

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