Mount Borah


Always an impressive mountain, Mount Borah was climbed this day by an impressive young lady.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

After the traditional dinner at Chapala restaurant in Hailey, Mariel and Dylan showed up. We drove over Trail Creek pass and spent the night at Garden Creek Campground under an almost full moon.

The next morning we were up at 4:30 with hot coffee. Jasmine, Julie, Mariel, and John were underway at about 6am, which was later than planned. Dylan had climbed Borah several weeks earlier and wanted to see how fast he could make it, so he waited until daylight.

Climbing Borah is sometimes called hiking. But it's not a normal hike. Borah is one of the steepest trails in the U.S., with over 5000 feet of elevation in about 3.5 miles. Its steep right from the parking lot.

Our major goal was the completion of an end-of-season test for Jasmine. Knowing that Borah was hard, technically difficult, and long, we worked at a pace that would allow Jasmine to keep going all day.

Here Jasmine takes her first break after about 1/2 hour. If you click on the picture to see the larger version, you'll see that Mariel looks wide awake while Jasmine looks a little sleepy. Ah, caffeine!

Mariel walked with us for quite a while, but then took off on her own; we refer to her as "the gazelle" due to her long legs.

Meanwhile Jasmine plugged away. Although Jasmine could not keep up with Mariel, she managed to climb almost 1000 feet per hour for the first three hours. Here she is well above timberline and approaching the ridgeline at about 10,500'.

Once the ridge is attained, the angle of the trail becomes less steep. At this point, the trail roughly parallels the dry glacial valley. Both sides of the valley are quite steep, including some vertical cliffs. The summit is immediately across the canyon.

At the head of the canyon is Chicken-Out Ridge. This part of the climb is shown by the red bracket. This section entails some rock climbing with considerable exposure. This late in the season there is no snow, but usually there is a snow saddle at the left end of this bracket.

This is the first of several of these pictures taken on the descent in improved lighting, but ordered to explain the climb.

After traversing the ridge on a fairly good trail, the rock climbing comes into view as the high point in this picture. There is still a trail here, but the switchbacks get closer and steeper.

As you approach the actual rock climb, it becomes even more threatening. The route climbs the high point in the middle of this picture which is marked with a slight red vertical line.

Julie can be seen just to the right of this point toward the top of the ridge at about 11,300 feet.

This picture shows the long ridgeline approaching the head of the valley.

Then the climb starts in earnest. During this portion of the climb Jasmine was totally freaked out. Mainly she was scared of the unknown. The picture shows Jasmine and Julie climbing together, both on a single belay.

During the descent, Jasmine was calm and collected. Her rock technique was excellent, and she successfully climbed everything without tension on the rope.


This picture shows some of the scrambling sections of Chicken-Out during the descent.

The route climbs through the saddle of yellowish rock, then traverses the grey-colored rock to bypass the high point on the right. Then the route follows the ridge crest to this spot. Following the ridge crest involves several sections of crawling or straddling rocks with considerable exposure on both sides.

At the end of Chicken-Out, the route involves downclimbing a near-vertical section of rock. This cliff changes height according to the snow depth in the saddle. Without snow, the cliff is around 15 to 20 feet high.

Here Jasmine climbs the cliff on our return.

The picture below shows the final cliff of Chicken-Out, as well as some of the exposure. The saddle is on the left at about 11,700 feet.


Once we were to the saddle, we removed the rope. This section of trail is not steep, but traverses a very steep scree slope. As you leave the saddle, the final face and summit come into view.

Shortly after this picture was taken we ran into Mariel and Dylan on their descent.

The traverse brings one to the upper saddle, shown in this picture. Then comes the trail up the face.

From the saddle, its about 900 feet to the top. This section of trail is very steep and loose. At times the entire trail slides as you cross it. Here John and Jasmine negotiate one of these sections.

Jasmine had exceeded her previous altitude record at the base of Chicken-Out. Here she is about half-way up Borah's final face, with the summit in view just to the right of the center of the picture.

The altitude made the steep trail even more difficult, but Jasmine plugged away with an astounding show of strength and determination. At times she was reduced to counting steps, but she didn't even complain.

Here she finally tops Borah's north face, just steps away from the summit.

It took her 8 hours, but Jasmine made the summit. She really did an incredible job, and her Mom and Dad were very proud of her accomplishment.

As on other climbs, Jasmine suffered from anxiety about the unknown. After being frightened for much of the climb up the mountain, she characteristically relaxed on the descent. On the way home, she actually had fun on Chicken-Out.

After Chicken-Out, there is still 3,500' of descending before the day is over. Here Julie pauses on the trail to admire her daughter.

Mr. Natural Home | 2003 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski