BOU AVENUE
He Devil, She Devil And Mount Baal
After spending a chilly night at Seven Devils campground near Hells Canyon in western Idaho, Kelly Bou and I woke up just after sunrise on the morning of 27 September 2010 and warmed ourselves up with a hot breakfast before setting off to explore nearby Seven Devils Mountains.  This small but rugged range is well-described at SummitPost.com as well as Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.  I was most interested in climbing He Devil, generally regarded as the highest peak in the range*, but its close proximity to a number of other peaks offered me the opportunity to possibly tag multiple summits in a single day.  The access hub for most of the high peaks of the range is Sheep Lake, a beautiful destination in its own right.  Foregoing the lake's official access trail which is much too long and circuitous, we used the more direct climbers' access route over unofficially-named Goat Pass.  Starting from the back of our campsite, we followed a trail southwest toward an obvious headwall which looked impassable at first glance.  We soon found that the trail takes a clever line up a hidden series of ramps with only two sections requiring very easy scrambling to surmount.  After reaching a broad pass overlooking Mirror Lake, we continued southwest along the trail to Goat Pass which is not much more than a notch in the narrow ridge.  Hugging some impressive cliffs, the trail plummets dramatically nearly 200 metres down the west side of the pass to Sheep Lake.  Kelly and I reached the lakeshore about two hours after leaving camp, and while she was content to lounge about by the lake, I set off to climb He Devil via its northwest ridge (easiest ascent route).

There is a good trail that goes partially around the south side of Sheep Lake, but it eventually disappears in a huge boulder field near the base of the peak known as She Devil.  Despite the lack of a trail, I easily worked my way up to a saddle north of He Devil (my GPS batteries died somewhere here, and it took me awhile before I noticed and had them changed).  From the saddle, I traversed across a large bowl to reach the northwest ridge of He Devil.  To minimize elevation loss, I stayed high in the bowl, but this put me on some steeper and less pleasant talus slopes.  After gaining the crest of the northwest ridge, I began feeling the effects of not having done any significant climbing for seven weeks.  I slowed down considerably, and while I pressed on up the ridge, I approached some of the hands-on sections with less enthusiasm than usual.  The top of He Devil sports two distinct summits of roughly equal height separated by a dip with a rock fin that is more annoying than tricky to get around.  As I sat down for a break on the more northerly summit, I began considering routes to get to She Devil to the east.

SummitPost.com describes a Class 3 route up the east ridge of He Devil which I could have used to descend and traverse over to She Devil.  However, I had not studied the route carefully enough to remember all the details, and I was worried about getting hung up on some cliff bands I had seen earlier from below.  Instead, I dropped down a Class 4 gully to the southeast and traversed ledges along the south side of the east ridge.  The terrain on the ledges is complicated and entail a fair bit of difficult scrambling.  Thus, getting to the col between He Devil and She Devil took much longer than I had anticipated.  As I scrambled up the west ridge of She Devil, I struggled to fight my fatigue, and an eternity seemed to pass before I finally reached the summit.  Concerned about the lateness of the day, I radioed Kelly and told her to start heading back to camp without me.  I was certain that I would be hiking back in the dark as I eyed the next bump to the east--unofficially named Mount Baal.

Catching my second wind, I encountered few difficulties descending to the col between She Devil and Mount Baal, and the short ascent to the top of Mount Baal was embarrassingly easy.  Although the next peak along the ridge, Tower of Babel, looked inviting, I was both disappointed and relieved that I did not have enough daylight and energy to continue.  I returned to the She Devil-Mount Baal col and stumbled down a wide gully back to Sheep Lake.  The climb back up to Goat Pass was wearisome but not as bad as I was expecting.  The remainder of my hike back to camp was mostly done in the dark but was otherwise uneventful.**  Kelly and I spent another chilly night at Seven Devils campground before packing up and resuming our road trip the following morning.
Looks like the start of a really nice day! This is the view of Heavens Gate Lookout (left of centre) from below the headwall.  Also visible is the access road.
I wonder how many peaks in this world are called "Tower of Babel"... Mirror Lake sits below Tower of Babel in this view from the pass above the headwall.
The 'tooth' on the left is a Class 3 scramble, but the 'tooth' on the right is a technical climb. This is Devils Tooth as seen from the trail on the west side of Goat Pass.
Reminds me a bit of Shangri-La in the Purcell Mountains. Coming down from Goat Pass, this is one of the first clear views of She Devil (left), He Devil, and Sheep Lake.
The hike down this trail is quite spectacular. Kelly descends the trail from Goat Pass to Sheep Lake.
It's tempting to just sit down here and relax for the rest of the day. He Devil is reflected in the unnamed pond near Sheep Lake.
It's also possible to access the He Devil-She Devil col by climbing the scree slope in shadows. Here is He Devil from the shoreline of Sheep Lake.  At right is the saddle that leads to He Devil's northwest ridge (not visible here).
Couldn't they have found a more imaginative name for the lake besides "Sheep"?? This is Sheep Lake as seen from the boulder field below She Devil.
No trails here.  Make your way across as best as you can! The northwest ridge of He Devil is on the far side of this bowl.
Kelly also saw a goat near where she was hanging out by the lake. A goat near the northwest ridge looks back curiously.
Fun scrambling on this ridge, but I was too tired to enjoy it! This is looking up the northwest ridge of He Devil.
Yay. More peaks to bag in the distance! West of He Devil are (L to R) Triangle Lake, Quad Lake (barely visible at centre), He Devil Lake (with island), and Echo Lake.  Hells Canyon is visible beyond the lakes while the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon can be seen on the horizon.
Tom Lopez says that the north summit is the highest one. This is the north summit of He Devil as seen from the south summit.  Note the rock fin in the dip.
The south summit looks higher now! This is the south summit of He Devil as seen from the north summit.  Note the large cairn on top.
Does it ever feel good to finally sit down! Sonny sits on the 2860-metre summit of He Devil.
Lily Pad Lake is also visible in the photo, but it's very hard to spot. Can you find it? North of He Devil are (L to R) Appendix Lake, Rock Island Lake (the "island" is now a peninsula!), Gem Lake, and Shelf Lake.  More of Hells Canyon can be seen in the distance.
Kelly could see me on the summit from the lake. Sheep Lake dominates the view to the northeast.  At right is Tower of Babel.  The access road to Heavens Gate Lookout is also visible in the distance.
I wonder what Kelly is doing down there right now... Here is a closer look at Sheep Lake from He Devil's summit.
With longer daylight hours, someone in better shape than me could conceivably tag 5 or 6 peaks here in a single day! To the east is She Devil which is flanked by Tower of Babel on the left and The Ogre on the right.
Doesn't look that difficult in the photo... This is looking up from the bottom of the Class 4 gully on the southeast side of He Devil.
Glad to put that route-finder's nightmare behind me! This is the east ridge of He Devil from the col between He Devil and She Devil.
Anyone wanna sign the pipe bomb?! Sonny holds up a couple of register canisters on the 2860-metre summit of She Devil.
I'm glad I bagged both He Devil and She Devil. This is the view of Sheep Lake from the top of She Devil.
Maybe I'll come back someday to tag these two... Southeast of She Devil are The Goblin (left) and The Ogre.
Believe it or not, the summit is only another 15 minutes from here! The late afternoon sun shines on Mount Baal.
The Kane Trooper decided it wasn't worthwhile to show up for this insignificant knob! Sonny stands on the 2795-metre summit of Mount Baal.
Will have to come back for this one at a later date as well. Here is Tower of Babel as seen from the summit of Mount Baal.
The gully is much longer than it looks, and the scree surfing is better near the top. This is looking up the descent gully below the west face of Mount Baal.
Boy, it sure gets dark fast... He Devil is reflected in the unnamed pond near Sheep Lake.
Climbing back up to Goat Pass at the end of a long day really sucks! Mount Baal glows in the last rays of sunlight for the day.
Maybe add 0.5 km distance and 150 m elevation gain. Total Distance:  11+ kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  10 hours 56 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  1300+ metres

GPX Data

* Summitpost.com notes discrepancies between the given elevations of both He Devil and She Devil as listed in Lopez's book and USGS topo map contour lines.  These discrepancies persist even in my MapSource Topo US 2008 program.  Summitpost.com regards both peaks as having identical elevations of at least 2865 metres (9400 feet).  In my trip report, I have indicated averaged track elevation readings as recorded by my GPS, and my data appear to support the notion that both peaks are of the same height.

** Unbeknownst to Kelly and me at the time, a 39-year old man named Todd Hofflander disappeared in the general area on the same day.  His dog was found nearly three weeks later, but to date, the whereabouts of Hofflander remains a mystery.