Monday, July 06, 2009

Summer Interlude: Borah Peak

Let’s set aside the analysis of the depressing course of things governmental for a moment, and focus on something more pleasant. On 2 July I joined a friend and colleague, biology professor Dave Houghton, in an attempt on Borah Peak, Idaho's highest. At 3,837 metters/12,662 feet, it's a nontechnical but non-easy scramble. We were first on the mountain, and hit Chicken Out Ridge a little after dawn. Dave scrambled over it with little difficulty, but some leg weakness from last year's surgery gave me problems, mostly in downclimbing.

Dave crossed the snow bridge (so far as he could tell) and was confronted with a short and apparently quite steep snow slope that cliffed out after a 30 meter runout. Dave thought the better of continuing, as did a New Zealander and Australian who caught up with us. We all headed back down, but an ultrarunner from Reno came past us and did indeed summit. He afterwards reported that the apparent steepness was something of an optical illusion, and didn't seem so bad once he was on it.

Well, what the heck, we all survived and enjoyed ourselves. And as all of us agreed (including the climber from Reno), the lucky ones are those of us who didn't summit -- we have better excuses for returning soon. Dave and I may indeed make another attempt this summer.

Some photos... (All photo credits Unforeseen Contingencies. Click on each for full-sized version.)

Steele & Houghton

My toes at 11,000 feet

Pushups on Chicken Out

Mountain Man Dave

I subsequently learned froma friend who teaches at Montana State that the very next day one of his grad students summitted Borah...and on the way down slipped on the snowfield in question, but managed to self arrest after sliding 100 feet.

After 101 feet, the next stop is 1000 feet below. Yikes!
On a second try three weeks later, Dave summitted. I felt sick that day and didn't even get onto Chicken Out Ridge. Nevertheless, a great day to be on the mountain, and I enjoyed lying in the sun at 11,000 feet.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?