Sacagawea Peak



I tag along as Sean goes back to visit Sacagawea.

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

Sacagawea is the next peak south of Borah on the main Lost River crest, joined by a narrow, rocky ridge with a saddle that drops about 500'.

Sean had been rebuffed by Sacagawea last year when the confusing gulleys and steep talus seemed too much to solo. So when he said he wanted to go back, I volunteered to join him. We arbitrarily set a date of July 10, expecting dry conditions. As the date finally got here, we were a little skeptical because we knew there was some snow lingering. Here's Chickenout Ridge on Borah, which we had to climb to access the NW ridge of Sacagawea. There are four climbers in the saddle: click for a bigger version.

Chickenout Ridge

After crossing Chickenout, we climbed straight up the ridge (as were the many Borah climbers on this day- no one was using the standard traverse trail). But instead of following the ridge to Borah, we turned right (southeast) to scramble out this ridge. The high terminus of the ridge was our objective. Hmmmm.

The NW ridge
The first part of the ridge is quite broad and goes really easily, simply hiking down and around some obstacles. With loose talus. Mega talus. Sean on talus

Then the ridge narrows, sometimes to a sharp knife edge. The instructions on Tom Lopez's Idaho Climbing Guide web site said to stay on top as much as possible, and that's exactly what we did, tiptoeing and finger traversing the crest. He calls it tedious, but I thought is was sort of fun. Admittedly slow, but fun.

This is looking back from the saddle.

Looking back at the ridge

And this is looking from the saddle forward to our summit. From here, the route drops down off the right side of the ridge and crosses a series of gullies. Tom's instructions include some photos that seemed to show the key features to the route, but the snow today seemed to be burying those features.

So we just followed our noses and it seemed to work out pretty well.

Again following the rule of stay on the ridgetop, after we crossed a couple gullies we scrambled up one, then climbed a Class IV wall.
Class 4 wallPhoto by Sean

After the wall, we had more ridge to traverse. This is big country- can you find Sean in the picture?

More ridge

And we were finally under the summit block. You can't see the actual summit here, but it is only a short distance behind.

I thought I spotted a weakness in this Class IV section, and we were off.

That last picture is actually a false summit. The true summit is about 10 feet higher and 100 feet farther along. More mondo talus.
Last scramblePhoto by Sean

It had been a lot of work and I was feeling pretty wiped out, but we were both very happy to be on the summit. It took us just under two hours from the top of Chickenout.

We poked around trying to find a summit register (none), then Sean left the one he had brought.

Meanwhile, the clouds that had been puttering around all day started getting organized. And I got nervous. It had taken us two hours to traverse the ridge, and I didn't think we had that much time before the weather would reach us.


On the summit

I carefully downclimbed the summit block, which was extra tricky due to the loose nature of the rock. Sean chose to rap.

While Sean was rapping, I poked around and found a reasonable route that traversed around our first Class IV section. I'm not sure it saved us any time, but it kept us off the ridgetop in the wailing wind.

Then it started spitting, humming, and rumbling. As we tried to move quickly north, the storm fortunately headed slightly south, so we didn't really get wet. But there was enough moisture to make the rocks slick.


And then the sun came out again for a quick look back at our peak. Note the dark clouds. Clothes on. Clothes off. Repeat.

On our return, we walked edges and ledges about 5 or 6 feet below the ridge crest. Not as fun, but much faster.


It was with some relief that we got back to Chickenout (easy terrain!) in about an hour and a half from the summit of Sacagawea. But about then another dark bugger was looming. Again with the clothes, but this one just barely spit.

The thing about Chickenout Ridge is that when you get off it, you have this feeling that the climb is over. Boy, is that feeling wrong. By the time we finally got back to the car, my quads were screaming and my feet felt like I was walking barefoot on nails.

In the plush seats and AC of the car as we started the long drive home after 9 hours of hard climbing, I couldn't help but note how good it felt to sit still.

Chickenout RidgePhoto by Sean

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