Lost River Mountain


The Super Gully route on Lost River Mountain cuts through layers of impressive strata, and Bob snowboarded down... but we turned around without the true summit.

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

Bob and I had spotted the line on Lost River Mountain last year during our ski trip to Breitenbach Peak, which is one summit to the north. When we saw the Super Gully, we knew it was going to be a really cool line, and possibly ski-able. If the Super Gully isn't Super Obvious, just click on the photo to see the enlarged version.

Our trip to Breitenbach had been in the middle of April, so we assumed there would be more snow this year, having been a good snow year, and especially since it was earlier in the year. As it turns out, the recent warm spell had melted much of the snow on Lost River. In fact, the line we had skied last year on Breitenbach was bare!

We left Boise right at 6am, and got to the mountain around 10:30. With a whole day ahead of us, we decided to hike up to the snow and check out the conditions. We could stash some gear to save weight in the morning....so we were off at 11am.

It's a pretty steep hike up to the base of the gully, around 9000'. This took us about an hour and a half. As we hiked, we watched the weather. The report for the following day was very favorable- sunny and diminished winds. This day, though, the winds were raging. It looked like pictures I've seen of Everest scraping the jet stream.

On the way to the trailhead we had to use shovels and ice axes to free the van from a snow patch- the ice was as hard as granite. With that experience fresh in my mind, I left my skis in the van. Bob is way hardcore about turns, so he had his snowboard and boots strapped to his pack. I took advantage of the load he was carrying and danced ahead a bit for this picture of "the mule."

When we got to the gully, it was rock hard. Even with my plastic boots on, it took several kicks to make a step.
We went straight to crampons, as did a group of fellow climbers we had caught. They were hoping to alpine-ski the gully, and had done so in the past. Bob grinned.

Bob set the pace, and we moved up at a good clip. But so did the storm.

About 3-400' short of the summit, at about 3:45, Bob stashed his snowboard. The other fellas, who you can see in the picture below us, decided not to summit, instead changing over to skis for the descent.

Bob and I headed for the summit, hoping we could beat the clock and avoid getting blown off the mountain. Before we headed up the last pitch, we "battened the hatches" with full gear and goggles.

The last section got progressively steeper, and the snow conditions were thin and softening. But there we were on the top...and not a minute too soon. It was 4:30 in the afternoon!

Through a break in the clouds, we got a breathtaking view of the valley. That's Mackay reservoir, and the White Knob mountains. The snow at our feet is actually the summit.

Bob always likes to get his turns. So while he switched gear, I headed down the gully. I knew that once he got going, he'd drop elevation way faster than I could walk down, especially since the snow was too firm for me to plunge-step.

After a bit, I turned to see Bob coming down the mountain. but something was wrong- he was sitting down, and moving quite fast. I considered my options: do I jump on him as he goes by, or try to stick my axe in the snow in front of him and let him hit it?

Fortunately, he was finally able to flip over and do a self-arrest. He then bravely got back up and started doing turns again.

We hiked back to Bob's van in a blowing, cold cloud. This was a grinding descent- the kind that makes your thighs burn and your knees ache.

We got back to the van about 6pm with big grins. Our reconnaissance of the route had been most successful.

Footnote: We thought we were on the summit, but in the storm we couldn't see the rest of the ridge. Here's a trip report of making the true summit.

The next day was clear and calm as promised. We made the most of it by rolling early through Challis and Stanley to get in some turns on Copper Mountain before heading home.

As I sheepishly emptied my wallet with less than my share of the gas money, Bob perfectly captioned the weekend:

"I'd pay for *all* the gas if all my weekends could be this good!"

Mr. Natural Home | 2004 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski