Baron Peak


A long day in the Sawtooth range gets us an astounding view.

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

My friend Kevin had invited me to do this climb several weeks ago, but I couldn't make it. Inspired by pictures he brought back, I decided to try it for myself.

So Tom and I set out at a leisurely 6am from Boise for the two hour drive to Grandjean. Hardly a car on the road.

When we got there, it was clear and about 45 degrees. We popped on our boots and took off into the morning sun. Baron Peak is the little bump to Tom's right, where the two ridges appear to convene.

Trail up Baron Creek

At about 3.5 miles, you have to cross this log. Then at about 4.5 miles, you leave the trail and head up Moolack Creek....Not. We climbed the grassy ridge to the west of Moolack to avoid what appeared to be some pretty thick brush.

Warning: Take lots of bug juice, at least this year at this time. We found lots of ticks, including one that was already feasting on my leg.

Crsossing the log

After a very tough 2000' climb on loose, steep, and slippery hillsides, we finally made the upper basin at around 8200'. There was snow here, but we were able to chase the talus islands and make good time.

We hadn't brought crampons, but the snow was cooperating. It has frozen the night before, but was a little soft on top. But in the talus, there were some deep holes, so we just stayed off the snow as much as possible.

Upper basin at around 8200'

As we got higher, the increased snow depth covered the post holes, and we were able to cruise. Our route followed the valley to the left of Baron, then traversed across to the west ridge.

Baron is almost dead-center in this picture, with the little snow gully splitting the center of the face.

Baron Peak

Zoomed in, the steepness of the snow field is more apparent. From here, we could see the tracks left by Kevin and crew.

The tracks were great. Although partially to all-the-way filled in since last week, they were still slightly soft so I didn't have to kick much at all. They were also perfectly spaced so we fell into a nice rhythm that got us about 1500' in an hour.

Closeup of Baron Peak

After gaining the ridge, it's typical Sawtooth talus. It takes experience to climb this stuff without sliding all over the place, or bombing those in the rear.

Our objective was the snowy gully. It didn't look bad. But we couldn't see the verglass that had formed. Verglass is totally clear water ice, and there was quite a bit of it, formed by freezing melt water. A week either way and it probably wouldn't be there. We just climbed very carefully.

The summit gully

Once past the verglass, it's a fun scramble up to the summit. Tom was moving faster than me, and found a shortcut.

Tom on the summit

But I joined him shortly after, and we both were amazed by the view. It took us a while to sort out which peaks were which- it's a much different perspective than we had had in all our climbs of the east side of the range. But a really cool one.

Tom and John

We definitely knew this was Warbonnet (middle).

The picture below is a crude panorama, but only about 120 degrees of a 270 degree spread of sharp peaks.

Sawtooth panorama

And here's the valley we had come up. The car was off to the right after Baron Creek meets the South Fork of the Payette.


Baron Creek drainage

We hung out on the summit for some time, but then grabbed the elevator and headed for home.

By the time we got back to the car, we were both pretty tired with sore feet. But an absolutely great trip. Perfect weather- cool and breezy, but curiously calm on the summit. Firm snow that allowed easy steps and just soft enough for a first-rate glissade. And some clouds in the afternoon to keep us cool on the trail back to the car.

We must be living right.

Tom glissading

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski