Lost River Peak
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  • Statistics:
    • Date Hiked:  June 1, 2003
    • Miles Hiked:  5.0
    • Elevation Gain:  4,478'
    • Hiking Partner(s):  Dan Robbins
  • Description:
    • There are 9 peaks in Idaho over 12,000', and Lost River Peak is number six on the 12er list at 12,078'.  Seven down, two to go.
    • The Lost River Peak is located to the east of the Mackay Reservoir.  To get the trailhead turn east off Highway 93 at milepost 115 onto Upper Creek Road.  This road is well marked with a sign.  Turn east on Upper Cedar Creek road off of Highway 93 exactly at milepost 115.  Drive 3.1 miles east and right after crossing a canal, turn left and head northwest next to the canal.  There was about a foot of water in the canal, so although a passenger car might make it, I would recommend a high clearance vehicle.  In addition, the going from here remained a bit rough.  After .1 mile (1/10th) next to the canal, turn right and drive .9 mile (9/10ths) to the trailhead.
    • I didn't anticipate returning to the Lost River Range as soon as I did after attempting this peak a couple of weeks ago, but things worked out and I made the trip this time with Dan Robbins.  We left Boise Saturday afternoon to make the drive and sleep at the trailhead in order to get an early start.  I upgraded my beer from Pabst to Moose Drool, and after we drank one, we went to bed for a fitful night of sleep.  Although I wouldn't exactly call it an alpine start, we awoke at 3:40 and were on the move shortly after 4:00.
    • We made the first section of the climb in the dark after having a bowl of cookie crisp that didn't sit too well with Dan.  After a while, his stomach settled and we began making great time to the entrance of the super gully.  The initial portion of the hike is relatively straight forward, but it was still steep and required effort from the start.  When we made it to the tree line, the headlamps were off and we identified a distinct trail in the scree that leads to the super gully.
    • From this point, it was only about 25 minutes of hiking before we hit the snow.  After slight hesitation, we strapped on the crampons and began testing our snow climbing skills (or lack thereof).  The immediate reaction to the crampons was bitter sweet.  Although we noticed a bit more weight, the solid footing and stability the crampons provided far outweighed any disadvantages.  We adjusted our walking and got used to crampons quickly.  Snow conditions were next to perfect as our points bit into the snow but our boots stayed firmly on top.
    • As we moved up, the gully got steeper and steeper. In several areas we passed avalanche, rock fall remnants, and scree that laid on top of the snow for several hundred feet at a time.  For the most part, we traversed back and forth across the gully until the final steepest section to the top of the super gully.  At this point, we started climbing straight up planting a foot, then the ice axe, then the other foot, and finally placing our hand.  I attempted to always have three limbs down which wasn't hard considering the 40 to 50 degree angle we were at.  This is a class 3 scramble and I would consider it a grade II climb with moderate to steep snow.
    • Once on top the gully, the mountain opened up to an enormous scree and talus field.  We elected to proceed to the right, remove the crampons, and work our way up to the ridge line.  In my opinion, the grade didn't relent much; however, I would say there was less exposure due to the fact that we maneuvered above a large flat outcropping, and also because arresting a fall in the rocks would have been easier than on steep solid snow.  Initially the rock was extremely loose and rotten and it was two steps forward and one step back.  Approximately half way up the talus tightened and the climbing became somewhat easier.
    • After we made it to the ridge, we caught our first look at the true summit and we were in the sun for the first time all day.  We peeked over the snow cornice seeing how the bottom of it was giving away in sections.  The climb from here to the summit was very similar to that of Mount Breitenbach.  We made our way up the ridge to the south summit on relatively good rock staying very near to the actual ridge line.  It didn't take long to reach the south summit where a wooden stick was stuck into a rock cairn and we were able to see clearly to the north.
    • On the summit ridge, we were only able to avoid putting the crampons on for a short period of time.  We scrambled over a crumbling point on the ridge, and after additional hesitation, put the crampons back on.  At first, we were both a bit anxious, but we simply stayed to the left away from the immediate edge of the snow and were on the summit before we knew it.
    • We only stayed long enough to take a number of photos and sign the summit register.  We were the second team of individuals to climb the peak this year.  Even in the 15 to 20 minutes on top, the snow was softening and we headed back down.  In hindsight, this didn't pose a problem in the gully as it was protected from the sun for a large portion of the morning.  Regardless, from the summit to the top of the scree field was easy going.  It was at this point when I made a error in judgment and took off scree skiing down the slope not staying even with Dan.  Although I made it to the bottom of the scree field quickly, I then had to sit and listen to the rocks flying by and be ready to take cover if needed.
    • Anyway, once we worked back out onto the snow, we stayed parallel and began to feel the burn in our thighs as we baby-stepped our way down.  Although this section coming back down on the scree in the summer is likely very fast, we were slowed considerably due to the snow and its steepness.  After we made to the bottom of the gully, we removed the crampons, did a bit of glissading, and hiked back to the trailhead.  We drove to Arco to have lunch at Pickles Place and then drove back to Boise.
    • It took us 5 hours and 25 minutes to summit and 2 hours and 55 minutes to descend.  Although one guidebook suggests that this is a 5 to 8 hour round trip, I think our time was respectable.  I do not think that I would want to climb this peak in any other conditions.  The weather cooperated, the snow remained solid, and I had a good climbing partner.  This was definitely one of the best hikes I have been on.  With that being said, I would caution anyone attempting this peak at anytime to be in good shape, and be prepared to deal with rock fall, steep loose scree/talus, and a descent amount of exposure.
  • Maps:
    • Click here to view a 2D map of the area where this hike is located.
    • Click here to view a 2D map of the area where this hike is located.
    • Click here to view a 3D map of the area where this hike is located.
  • Photographs:
    • Disclaimer:  These photos do not do justice to this trip.
    • Lost River Peak from the highway.  (Note:  The true summit is approximately .25 mile behind the summit you see in some of these photos.)
    • This is a close up from the same distance away.
    • It was amazing how different the mountain looked in just two weeks.  This is a comparison shot taken on May 16th and again on June 1st.
    • Unfortunately most of the photos I took were on the way up when the light wasn't the greatest.  Anyway, this picture was taken just after leaving the tree line and heading for the entrance of the super gully .
    • It was at this point, before we made it to narrow section of the super gully, when we hit snow and the crampons went on.
    • We are getting closer to the start of the narrow chute of the super gully.
    • Starting up the very narrow and steep portion of the gully.
    • Dan climbing with crampons and an ice axe.
    • Approximately one third of the way up the gully.
    • Approximately half way up the gully.  (Photo was obviously taken on the way down as evidenced by the light.)
    • Dan climbing in the middle of the chute.
    • The clear point on the top of the snow is the south summit.  This photo is taken just before rounding the top gate of the super where the mountain opens up into a large and loose talus/scree field.
    • Dan making the final and steepest push to the top of the super gully.
    • This is the enormous scree/talus field at the top of the mountain.  Had we stayed to the left, we would have remained on snow to the south summit.  We elected to go right, remove the crampons, and proceed up the talus to the snow free ridge.
    • Our first look at the actual summit of Lost River Peak which is the farthest point to the right.  We were able to keep our crampons off until just past the small point in the center of the photo.
    • The rock was relatively tight compared to the large talus field on the way up to the south summit.
    • I thought this was a great shot of the summit ridge.
    • Dan on the large snow cornice just before the summit of Lost River Peak.
    • This was my seventh twelver.
    • There was a golf club on the summit block.  Here is Dan teeing up a snow ball and taking a swing.
    • The Lost River Range to the north including Donaldson, Church, Borah, and Breitenbach.
 

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