Summiting Mount Borah – August 2013

Total round trip hike distance: 8 miles
Total elevation gain: ~5300 feet

Mt. Borah was the second Idaho 12er I climbed. Brother Steve, friends Mark and Julie, and I began our road trip Friday after lunch rolling ever closer to the highest point in Idaho.

On our way, we pass passed the McCan fire, a lightning caused fire that burned nearly 24 thousand acres by the time fire crews fully contained it.

Just as last year, we not only had to battle the mountain itself, but mother nature as well. We arrived at Mt. Borah Friday evening and were greeted with more smoke. Although many fires were burning in Idaho, this smoke most likely came from the Beaver Creek fire which was burning to the South and West of our location (video inaccurately describes the fire as “Buffalo Creek”). The fires shrouded the entire area in a thick blanket of smoke, so bad that we could actually see ash falling out of the sky. The immense smoke made for a memorable sunset and a blood red moon later that night.

While everyone else was crammed, camping in and around the parking lot, we found an awesome camp site just a few hundred yards from the trailhead. We had the entire area to ourselves, including a creek running along-side our camp. After setting up camp, Mark entertained us in what can only be described as pure skill (watch 2nd video).

We awoke at 5:30am the next morning, hoping that changing weather patterns might have pushed the smoke out. It did not. We packed up camp and drove the very short distance to the trailhead. We began our hike at about 7am. There were many hikers on the trail and it was nice to get to know some of them as we continuously passed each other on the climb.

We ascended like billy goats until we reached the famous Chicken Out Ridge. I can understand why it is called this. This section of mountain is not for the faint of heart. As you scurry over sharp, protruding rocks, sheer drop-offs greet you on either side. It’s here where we lost one of our group to the mystique of Chicken Out Ridge. The rest of us gathered our senses and began the trek across. Yeah Baby! After a grueling scamper across Chicken Out Ridge, we descended the last 20 foot drop off, fortunate not to have encountered snow at the bottom. We straddled the saddle a bit more and began the final steep ascent to the top. At the summit, we experienced a brief snow/sleet storm that blew out just as fast as it blew in. Lasting roughly 60 seconds, it gave us an idea of how quickly the weather can change. After a brief stay at the summit we begin our journey down. While not as hard as going up, it was hell on the knees! Some ten hours later we emerged from this adventure still in one piece, however just slightly more tired. On our trip home, we encountered 2 baby deer in the road. They were not too worried about us being there as we actually had to honk the horn to get them out of the road. We’re hoping they found their mother in the trees.


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