Climbing Idaho’s Lost River Peak

REI adStanding at 12,078 feet and number 6 in the ranking of Idaho’s tallest mountains is Lost River Peak (LRP). This peak lives up to the reputation of Lost River Range climbs: steep on all aspects and tough to summit.  The steepness of this mountain includes the camps at its base; I found it incredibility difficult to find a flat spot to pitch my tent.  My short night of sleep was constantly interrupted as I tried to prevent myself from sliding toward the downhill facing side of my tent.   As you can imagine the 2 a.m alpine start we decided to have on this climb was not unwelcome as I wasn’t really sleeping anyway.

The Lost River Range near Mackay, Idaho.

The Lost River Range near Mackay, Idaho.

Camping in the shadow of Lost River Peak in Idaho.

Camping in the shadow of Lost River Peak in Idaho.

Our visit to LRP was intended to be a training climb for snowfield travel as we were scheduled to be climbing Mt. Rainier only weeks after.  With that as our motivator we chose to hit the trailhead early in search of ice for cramponing up the snowfield.

The LRP trail gets steep immediately and ascending in the dark can be a little tricky when working to follow a trail.   Soft dirt and steepness caused us to be on our hands and knees at times as the soft dirt gave way under our feet, threatening our balance.  Tallus and scree are encountered very early on in the climb and I will admit that walking out in the giant chute of tallus and scree can be a little unnerving.  My thoughts kept wandering to the 1983 Borah Peak earthquake that I had recently learned about. This quake had dropped the valley floor and average of 10 feet overall and the scars on the landscape are evident and obvious as you approach the mountain.  My imagination ran wild as we made our way through the tallus and scree as I knew this would be a terrible place to be in the event of another powerful quake.

Making our way up the Cathedral of the Gods on Lost River Peak, Idaho.

Making our way up the Cathedral of the Gods on Lost River Peak, Idaho.

We reached the base of the LRP chute as the sun began to rise.  While the sunshine was only reaching the high peaks across the valley from where we stood the dramatic landscape was finally illuminated.  One of my favorite things about being in the mountains is experiencing sunrise far above the valley floor.  The early sunrise causes dramatic shadows, and orange and pink glows, and the snow above us was literally sparkling.  We continued our climb.

Leading a pitch through the Super Gully on Lost River Peak, Idaho.

Leading a pitch through the Super Gully on Lost River Peak, Idaho.

The route to the false summit is obvious and continues straight up one of LRP’s famous features, the Super Gully.  Known for being a great spring line for boarders and skiers the Super Gully gets steeper as you get nearer to the summit.  With each step of the approach I wished I had my board for a speedy descent however with the ultra warm temperatures early in the season, the snowpack this year was limited only to the very upper sections of the mountain.

As we reached the first snowfield we roped up for some glacier travel practice, our group moved quickly upward.   Spontaneous rock fall is a true concern when climbing LRP especially as you enter the Cathedral of the Gods. This area is incredible to look at and the view gets even better the further your rise about it.  Several rocks came zinging past us as we rapidly climbed out from between these breathtaking and dramatic rock formations, it was then that I realized what a truly rugged but beautiful mountain range this was.

As we neared the final approach to the false summit we had unroped and everyone chose their own path to the top.   I chose to climb up what was left of a big cornice and near the top, literally vertical with my butt hanging over air – my heart was racing.  Upon reaching the false summit we had a short walk to the true summit that included a knife ridge crossing with big drops on both sides.  The hand and footholds are bomber but with crosswinds and exposure, it was still a little sketchy.  The final steps to a summit are always rewarding and exciting and the accompanying adrenaline adds to the excitement.

Soloing the final ice field to the false summit on Lost River Peak.

Soloing the final ice field to the false summit on Lost River Peak.

My route up a rotten cornice made for an exciting top out.

My route up a rotten cornice made for an exciting top out.

Reaching the summit is always a fun and exciting experience and LRP was no different.. The amazing views, the feeling of accomplishment and the time spent challenging ourselves and training with friends is always special.

We reached the Summit of Lost River Peak during beautiful weather.

We reached the Summit of Lost River Peak during beautiful weather.

 

Making our way back down Lost River Peak was tricky with some breezing conditions on the knife edge.

Making our way back down Lost River Peak was tricky with some breezing conditions on the knife edge.

The Lost River Peak summit and false summit are separated by a thin knife  edge crossing.

The Lost River Peak summit and false summit are separated by a thin knife edge crossing.

To date LRP is my favorite of the Idaho 12ers.

Down climbing back down the Super Gully near the Cathedral of the Gods.

Down climbing back down the Super Gully near the Cathedral of the Gods.

 

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About Misty Broesicke

Our Chief Executive Bunny, Misty Broesicke grew up in Orange County, California and made her way to Idaho at 27 years old.  At twenty-nine she learned to snowboard and it quickly developed into a love and passion.  
With a background in rock climbing Misty has combined her passion for both sports as she develops her skills in backcountry snowboarding and mountaineering.   

She has three children,  two “fur” babies and resides with them, and her boyfriend in Boise, Idaho. She is passionate about raising her family to love and take care of the amazing planet we live on while at the same time enjoying the beauty of it by getting outside as often as possible.  

Misty started Snow Bunny Magazine as way to further her own love of outdoor lifestyle sports, while at the same time building up other women and youth through them. 

She is surrounded by an amazing team of women, and that she believes is her greatest strength.