Brian's Day Off


Three days of climbing including Hyndman Peak, Cobb Peak, Mount Church, Donaldson Peak, and Mount Borah.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Brian had flown in the day before, and we spent time gabbing, sorting gear, and adjusting a mountain bike for Brian.

Early the next morning we loaded up and headed for the trailhead, three hours away. After way too much coffee, we hopped on the bikes and rode up the trail as far as we could.

We then headed up into the beautiful valley between our two peaks for the day.

Our first objective was Mt. Hyndman. We were both eager to see how fit the other was, so the pace was fairly horrendous. Our route, the standard, was to follow the right ridgeline. It was thought to be an easy scramble, although we didn't really know. This was new terrain to Brian, and John had only been here as a snow climb up the right-hand snow gully.

The ridge is actually pretty easy. However, we made up for the low technical difficulty by making it into an athletic challenge. I believe we made it from Boise to the summit in less than six hours.

We tried to catch our breath as we surveyed the next peak of the day, Cobb Peak. We agreed to turn the throttle back a notch to prevent total collapse.

On the west ridge of Cobb, we went into "metronome mode." As we approached the summit, we found some really fun 4th class scrambling. The variety of rock in this area is amazing: from nice solid stuff to what seems like compacted dirt.

We enjoyed the summit: Brian's first Idaho peaks. I had to apologize for the uncooperative weather. Usually its better, but today was only fairly perfect.

Then it was time to scramble down to the bikes and coast back to the truck. It was also time to introduce Brian to KB's burritos.

That night we camped at a little spot on the Little Lost River. We even went swimming!

The next day we wandered about, guidebook in hand, trying to find the trailhead for Jones Creek. The map is approximate, added years later with a dim memory.

We finally left the truck at about 9am. So much for an alpine start. At least the weather was looking better.

Church is on the left, Donaldson on the right. There is no trail, but it's an obvious route to the high cirque between the two.

Looking back down the drainage from above the vegetation line, the green fields north of Mackay are visible far below.
It's a long hike up some impressively steep scree to get to bowl beneath the final 1000' cliffband.

Once in the cirque, we found a lake. Apparently it dries up later in the year. We were there early enough to have the surrounding wall in shade, which made the route hard to see (Heavily photoshopped here to lighten it up).

We were chagrined to realize the route wasn't obvious. We didn't have the book with us, so had to rely on our own wits. After considering three possibilities, we ignored the waterfall, and the inconclusive scree fields. Instead we chose the only line that clearly went all the way.

It looked a little thin, so we reviewed the policy: If anyone calls it quits, we both turn around with no further dialogue.

Then off we went. Our route started at the top of the little snow patch on the left of the upper photo.

John kicked steps in the hard snow for Brian, then Brian led the rock. It was a little loose. It required traversing gravel ledges with exposure. It wasn't terribly hard, but we were both analyzing the scary and difficult downclimb required if we didn't find a better descent route.

Yes, we came up this gully. Not only that, but the gully was even steeper down below.
Our route followed the light streak toward the left of the picture. This was taken during the (much easier) descent.
Once we gained the conjoining ridge, Donaldson was not far away.
However, the 40MPH+ direct cross-wind made the knife-edge ridge up to Church a little tricky. John left his pack, and camera, to lessen the square footage of sailcloth.

The ridge up to Church isn't difficult, but there is some exposure to contend with. John hadn't been rock climbing for quite some time, so he was very focused on the ascent.

As we turned around, the wind dropped and it was all good across to Donaldson. Along the way we were excited to find some cairns marking a different descent possibility. But taking a different descent route is always a little iffy, so we couldn't relax until we made it back down to the lake.

The next day, we got up early to climb Mt. Borah. We went extremely light, and didn't bother with a camera. John has climbed Borah a number of times, and didn't need pictures. If you want to see the route, there are pictures available of a more recent attempt.

After all, we had to get Brian back to Boise to catch a 3 o'clock flight home that afternoon.

Mr. Natural Home | 2002 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski