Bob Boyles told me about a possible line on Borah and since I knew the face was in great shape from just being up there, Bob Jahn and I made plans to climb it this last weekend. We ended up adjusting our date since the weather models were showing the possibility of some precip moving in on Saturday. We decided on Friday. We left Boise on Thursday and made it to Rock Creek before it was dark. We organized and packed. We did it in a day from Rock Creek back to Rock Creek so we were pretty light on gear. It would have been fun to camp up at the upper cirque and maybe even have had a porter to haul our stuff out while we climbed up and over. But... that's not my style. I hate camping. I don't mind a bivy (if forced, not planned). I like the modern ethos of "Light and Fast". I might not always get the "Fast", but I am usually pretty "Light"! If there's a possibility of doing something car to car, I will give it a go.
The notch to the upper cirque was snow-free and a lot more different from when we were last here. We tanked up on water at the outlet. That was the last water we would see until we drank out of the Solar Shower back at the van. The slog up the lower flank was slower than I thought. It was hard to pass the "Standard" route up and move on to something we couldn't see yet. But, just like Bob Boyles said, the route appeared from around a fold in the mountain. It was sheltered and started in ice. It would be ice from the bottom of the couloir to the top of the East Ridge.
We simul-climbed about two pitches to start. The angle started to kick back and then we pitched out about five more pitches. The ice is THICK in the coolie and only calved some plates in a few spots. Just as I was about to run out of rope, a pull-out to a ledge would appear and offer up a nice belay spot. It was a well designed route. If I believed in God, I would say he was an ice climber.
The climbing was solid. There were only a few spots where there were bulges of steeper ice, so hence the grading (at the time/conditions) of AI3-. I had looked at Bob's route photo and was concerned about a possible rock band that looked very steep that might be blocking the route. It ended up having a sliver of ice cut through and went beautifully.
After that, we were on the "Skyledge" that goes all the way to the main route. Cool. We passed up a final pitch and arched like a sickle to the East Ridge route. We stashed the rope and started climbing.
We had to rope up for the final couloir. It was a brutal pitch! Best one of the day, in my opinion! It was a runnel of super solid ice in a vertical fissure. It ended with a M3 move over a chockstone with a small nut 10 feet down for pro. I ran out of rope and brought Bob up. I stashed the rope and we climbed the last 100 feet right to the summit. I was very pleased that there were no people up there. We started down and almost made it to the treeline and the lights went out. We cut back to Rock Creek at the knob where the main trail cuts hard left. Since it was darker than a well-diggers ass, we used all the altimeter, map, compass and watch techniques not to end up going too far into the upper drainages that go into Rock Creek. We busted out almost right at the dam. We were back at the van drinking beer and shower water and eating chips with no salsa before Midnight. We took the Stanley loop back home and stopped at the Stanley Baking Co. and had breakfast. It was a great trip. Thank you to Mr. Boyles for the inspiration to get on something different!
Good Stuff Ralph!
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