Thursday, August 27, 2009

Climb Mt. Borah - it's easiest in late summer

Photos courtesy of

A friend of mine, Scott Turlington, inspired this week's outdoor tip -- climbing Mt. Borah, Idaho's highest peak (12,662 feet) in the Lost River Range near Arco, Mackay and Challis.

Scott took his 12-year-old son on the adventure last weekend. He said it took them 8 hours to bag the peak, and 6 hours to come back down. There were at least 75 other people on the trail on the day they climbed the peak. His legs were still sore on Wednesday. No wonder ... The typical route involves ascending 5,262 vertical feet (1604 m) from the trailhead to the summit in just over 3.5 miles. Whew, that's steep! The trail grade averages 30 percent.

Experts say it's best to climb Borah in late summer when most of the snow has melted from the summit, and the most technical aspects of the climb can be accomplished without ropes. An ice axe might be handy when you're scrambling across "chicken-out" ridge, a narrow rocky spine with major dropoffs on both sides. Scott said the ridge still had snow on it last week.

Most people drive to the trailhead the night before, make camp, get up about 3:30 a.m., and make the summit before noon. Most people do it as a "day hike."

It's all self-support. Be sure to bring lots of food and water. There is no public water at the trailhead. Even if it's hot to begin with, cold and wet weather can roll in, so be prepared for that.

Here are some links with detailed information about the climb and the mountain:
- Wikipedia
- Peak
- This site has driving directions to the trailhead and other useful information.
- YouTube has tons of videos from people who posted their pix and video from the trip. Here are links to a couple that seemed helpful:
- Short clip
- Longer clip: Mt. Borah - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- Tips from a woman who's been there

Have fun!