Borah Peak
Ever since I read Alan Kane's trip report for Borah Peak, the highest point in the state of Idaho, I knew that I would eventually pay a visit to this popular mountain.  Besides Kane's report, there are many other websites with excellent route descriptions and photographs for Borah Peak, and Tom Lopez's guidebook, Idaho: A Climbing Guide, is an outstanding resource of information not only for Borah Peak but also for virtually every significant mountain in Idaho.

Kicking off our two-week vacation, Kelly Bou and I took two days to drive from Calgary, Alberta to the trailhead for Borah Peak where we set up camp in the late afternoon on 27 September 2009.  Not surprisingly, the trailhead was a fairly busy place on this gorgeous day, but by the evening, we pretty much had the trailhead camp to ourselves except for a couple of motorcyclists who arrived shortly after us.  After eating a nice dinner and enjoying a beautiful sunset, we retired for the night in our tent.
The so-called "Center" is nothing more than a few interpretive signs and an outhouse! This is Borah Peak as seen from the nearby Earthquake Visitors Information Center.
Looks pretty easy from this angle... Here is another view of Borah Peak from the highway.
Camping is free here, but it would be wise to bring some toilet paper and extra water (very small creek nearby). This is a foreshortened view of Borah Peak's summit (S) from the trailhead.  Note the outhouse at bottom right.
Despite being woken by some noisy and inconsiderate yahoos who arrived at the campground in the middle of the night, I slept as well as I could in a cold tent and got up early for a pre-dawn start on 28 September 2009 (Kelly had no intentions of climbing Borah Peak and would remain in camp during the day).  I ate a banana for breakfast and then set a fairly brisk pace on the excellent trail in order to warm myself up.  The stars in the heavens were amazing to behold, and they even gave off just enough illumination that I could follow the trail without using my headlamp.  By the time I cleared the last trees, the sky had brightened considerably, and I continued following the well-beaten path without difficulty up to Chickenout Ridge.  This aptly named section is where the climb takes on a more serious complexion as the ridge narrows and becomes more exposed.  I scrambled up the knife-edged ridge for a short distance before following a beaten path that traverses below the crest on climber's left.  I soon encountered a steep chute which still held enough ice to force me to detour by climbing higher to where the ice petered out.  Even without ice, my footing on the hard-packed dirt of the chute was tentative at best, and I was relieved to cross this section fairly quickly.  This was definitely the crux of the trip.

On the other side of the chute, I picked up an obvious trail which easily leads to a saddle and continues all the way up to the summit.  As I climbed up the main summit block, I ran into the two motorcyclists who were on their way down.  The two men had started their ascent only 15 minutes ahead of me, but they zoomed up to the summit in less than 3.5 hours because they were in a hurry to get back to Jackson, Wyoming that night.  Before they went on their way, one of them strongly recommended ascending the ridge crest of the summit block.  Hoping that some hands-on scrambling would alleviate my growing fatigue, I gladly took to the ridge crest.  The scrambling here was fun, but it took me much longer to ascend than I was anticipating.  When I reached the summit, I called Kelly on my two-way radio and was surprised to learn that the yahoos who arrived during the night had begun their ascent only within the last hour.  Secure in the knowledge that I had the summit to myself for the short term, I spent well over an hour up there taking photographs, reading and signing the register, and checking out the assorted paraphernalia cluttering the summit cairn.

On descent, I took the trail down to the saddle and carefully retraced my steps back across the chute and Chickenout Ridge.  I eventually came across the yahoos--a party of five from Boise, Idaho--as they were taking a break in the hot afternoon sun not far above tree line.  They still had a long way to go with only a few hours of daylight left, but I was not about to lecture them on late starts!  At tree line, I took a short break myself in some shade and enjoyed a cold drink and a delicious cookie before resuming my descent.  I stopped once more a little later to chat with an older couple from Pocatello, Idaho who had hiked only as far as the open ridge above tree line before turning around.  When I rejoined Kelly at the trailhead (round-trip time less than 10 hours), she had already packed up our tent, and we promptly drove to Arco, Idaho where we checked into a motel for the night.
Everything you need to know about Borah Peak! This is the sign at the trailhead.
It's amazing how quickly the sky can change in an hour. The sky begins to brighten up.
Don't you just love the open slopes (ie. no bushwhacking)? The day's first rays of sunshine illuminate Dickey Peak (3396 metres) to the northwest.
Mmmm...can't stop thinking about KFC! This is a good view of the route up to Chickenout Ridge (center) from above tree line.
Some route-finding or chickening out is required here. The terrain becomes more complex at the foot of Chickenout Ridge.
If you look closely, you might be able to spot the trail traversing across the west side of Point 11898. This is looking at the traverse below the crest of Chickenout Ridge.  The summit is at far left.  The ridge ahead is known as Point 11898 (ie. its elevation is 11,898 feet).
This is a good place to catch your breath before the final push to the summit. Sonny hikes across the saddle with Point 11898 behind him.
As usual, the summit is further away than it looks! Sonny looks up at the final summit block.  Note the trail going up the scree.
Very enjoyable scrambling with some healthy exposure to boot! This is the ridge crest of the summit block.
It's the biggest lake visible from Borah Peak! A small tarn sits in a basin to the east of Borah Peak.
The ascent (7.15 km one-way, 1580 m) took me 5 hours 18 minutes. Sonny takes the last few steps to the summit of Borah Peak.
America, f**k yeah! This is the 3867-metre summit of Borah Peak--highest point in Idaho.
On the bra, it says, "Sex @ 12662 is worth it"! There are some interesting items that people have left behind on this summit!
Don't forget to bring a 3-iron if you climb this peak! This is one of the many golf balls found in the summit cairn.
I could see my car from up here! This is looking west from the summit of Borah Peak.  The trailhead campground is visible at bottom center (where the access road ends).  On the horizon are the White Cloud Mountains.
You could spend a lifetime in Idaho bagging easy 11,000-footers such as these! North of Borah Peak are Dickey Peak (left) and a cluster of unofficially named 11,000-foot peaks (Al West Peak, Horseshoe Mountain, and Doublespring Peak).
Another outlier I'll probably never climb! Northeast of Borah Peak is Peak 11828 which is unofficially known as Mountaineer Peak.  On the horizon is the Lemhi Range.
I hope to return and climb all the other 12,000-footers in Idaho. This is looking southeast along the Lost River Range.  Just left of the gap at center is Leatherman Peak (3728 metres), the second highest mountain in Idaho.  Several other 12,000-foot peaks are also visible.
There is another 12,000-footer in the Pioneer Mountains. Behind Point 11898 (trail) and Chickenout Ridge to the south is Peak 11367 which is unofficially known as Mount Morrison.  The Pioneer Mountains are visible on the horizon at center.
Aren't you glad I didn't hold up the bra instead? Sonny holds up a denim flag that was rolled up in a large canister that was left on the summit.
It doesn't look like much, but it still took me 35 minutes to get down here from the summit. This is looking back at the summit block from the saddle.
Getting tired of all these unofficially named 11,000-footers yet? To the east is unofficially named Mount Corruption (3614 metres).
My new hiking shoes are a tad small and began hurting my toes on descent. Sonny hikes back along the trail.
I ran into the yahoos shortly after this photo was taken. This is another look at the route in the afternoon light.  Chickenout Ridge is right of center, and the summit is at far left.
Time to go find something to eat in Arco! Here is one last look at Borah Peak from the highway.