Borah Peak (Lost River Range)

Date: November 12, 2019
Participants: Forest Dean and Taylor Brugh

I had originally scheduled and planned this North Face climb for the last weekend in October, but a bad forecast forced a cancellation and I actually didn’t plan to reschedule. However, the desire didn’t abate, the forecast (this time) looked better, and Taylor was game to join me, so we decided to give this a go.

We headed down to the Borah Peak trailhead (7400’) on Saturday afternoon (4.25 hour drive). Sunny sky, warm weather. We were the only ones at the trailhead/camping area. Ate some dinner, sat around a campfire until about 9pm then hit the sack. During the night clouds moved in and the temps went up a bit. We awoke at 4:30am and were on the trail at 5:00. Followed the standard climbers trail for the first 1.25 miles until it pops out at a saddle at 8600’. From there we went off trail, contouring to the north and then east where we intersected a dry stream bed which leads up toward the NW Ridge of Borah. We dea…

Winter Outing, Lolo Pass

Date: Sun. Nov. 3rd, 2019 Participants: Steve Schombel, David & Julie Kahl
Colleen from the Lolo Pass Visitors’ Center had kept me updated on conditions and on Friday advised that there probably wasn’t enough snow to snowshoe and that ice cleats may be useful. Conditions that persisted until Sunday, we had cleats we never needed, and each took a ski pole. The option to change this to another place wasn’t very good as it is hunting season in Montana. In the parking lot we discussed options on where to go, down by Pack Creek would probably be brushy. Down Pack Cr. Rd was an option, but we decided on going up the road that comes off of the pass, by the snow plow turnaround, that goes up the State Line Ridge to the east of the Visitors’ Center. The actual MT-ID state line goes up the brow of the ridge from Lolo Pass, and as the road goes east from there, we didn’t realize until we were part way up, that we had ended up in Montana anyway. We weren’t very worried and continued on. This…

Hiking on The Old Railroad Grade from Whittaker Bridge

Date: Sun. Oct. 20th, 2019 Participants: Carla McColly, Steve Schombel, David & Julie Kahl
All week the weather for Sunday had looked dire, but though it started cloudy and rainy, it got sunny as the day went on. From the Whittaker Bridge we walked east on the old railroad bed. On my GPS it looked like we could go maybe a 1/2  or one mile/ 0.80-1.61k or so before we came to end of the BLM land, but we opted to go that way anyway. The walking was easy and we discussed the use of it for biking and skiing/snowshoeing, if you could get back on the road in winter. On The Johnsrud Rd we had come in on, there was a larger parking lot 75 feet/ 22.68m up the road, and we immediately saw the main trail coming down from it to the river bottom below, a short ways up a nice flat where it would have been easy to get to the water and swim. Steve mentioned something about a “Red Rock Amphitheater” where people used to have concerts back in the 1970’s, presumably when this was used as a road. We …

The Helmet & Sphinx, Madison Range

Date: October 12, 2019 Trip Leader: Laurel Vielle Attendees: Anne Dellwo, Bryan Kercher, Britt and Sussie Lindsey and Dev the Wonder Dog Stats: 16 miles RT with 5600 ft of elevation gain
With the winter weather event that took place a few days before, I was seriously doubting we would be climbing anything this past Saturday the 12th of October. But, as it turned out, we had bluebird conditions and relatively little snow to deal with.  Five of us (plus Anne's dog Dev) started up the trail around 8:30am and in no time made it up to the saddle between The Helmet and the Sphinx in the Madison range.  After taking a quick break we all headed over to the area that would give us access to The Hemet's western ridge.  I had never climbed The Helmet but knew someone who did and who had referenced a "keyhole" access to the ridge.  Sure enough, after hiking below the huge sheer southern face of The Helmet, we found a narrow gully with a chock stone and squeezed through the &quo…

Kakashe Mountain (Mission Mountain Range)

Date: October 13, 2019 Co-Leaders: Elizabeth Moore & Casey Lammers Participants: Jennifer Franklin On a beautiful, blue bird fall morning, we got started at the East end of Mission Reservoir near Mission Reservoir Campground around 8 am. We climbed straight up the hillside until reaching Kakashe ridge, then followed the ridge through the woods, bushwhacking (sometimes over some astonishing and expansive layers of downed trees) and using the existing switchback trail when it was useful to us.  We encountered snow patches from early October snowfall and increasingly more above 7500’.  At about 7800’ just below Peak 8052 we made our way across a large couloir and climbed up to the saddle between Peak 8052 and Kakashe.  Around this area is when we hit consistent snow and travel was a little bit slower.  We climbed up the South face of Kakashe from here on slick beargrass slopes and through some boulders. We brought along microspikes but the conditions didn’t warrant using them.  I found i…

Joe Peaks Traverse (Bitterroots)

Date: October 6, 2019
Leader: Forest Dean
Participants: Dori Gilels, Minot Maser, Laurel Vielle, Andrew Koopman

The five of us got started at the main Bass Creek trailhead a few minutes after 7:00am on this beautiful Sunday morning. We hiked up the ridge following the general route of the winter skin track to the Bass Creek Overlook lot and then up the trail. Encountered consistent snow at about 7000’. Snow gradually got deeper as we gradually got higher, maxing out at around a foot near the summits and connecting ridgelines. The going wasn’t too difficult though and we were at the Little St. Joe summit (9033’) at a bit after 10:00. This was Andrew’s first Bitterroot summit (congratulations!).

We then proceeded to make the long traverse along the crest of the ridge toward St. Joseph Peak. The snow didn’t allow for rapid movement, but we did ok. Upon reaching the base of the east ridge of Big Joe, we opted to cut across the SE Bowl to gain the South Ridge, which we then followed to th…

Wind River Range

Dates: August 30- September 8, 2019
Leader: Forest Dean
Participant: Josh Ashton, Mick Manley, Rob Edington, Brent Maier, Abby Maier

I have always raved about the Winds. Personally I don’t believe there is a more idyllic mountain range in the lower 48. The combination of huge granite peaks, glaciers, alpine lakes, streams rivals anything the high Sierra might be able to offer- but without the hordes of people (although Titcomb Basin on Labor Day weekend may be an exception). 13,000’ summits are everywhere. Many of the lakes are teaming with trout. Many CDT hikers say the Winds are their favorite section of the entire 3000 mile adventure. Its paradise!

Last winter I discussed putting this trip together with Brent. He had heard me fondly talking about it for several years now and was eager to get there himself. We listed it on the calendar, and when the end of August rolled around there was a total of 6 of us ready for the adventure. We had chosen Titcomb Basin as a place to basecamp f…