The Cone


A crystal-clear day on The Cone provides a way to work off those extra Thanskgiving calories.

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

Super Dave had a free pass, and Tom was free for a climb. What to do? What to do? After bouncing around a few ideas, driving time, snow conditions, etc. we settled on The Cone, a lesser known peak in the Boulder range outside Sun Valley. John and George caught wind of it, and invited themselves. And then Dave heard from Erik and Jacob, who asked to tag along.

This picture on the right, taken in early summer from Basil's Peak and heavily photoshopped, shows the Cone. Based on this picture and Big Dan's trip report of the standard route, we decided to try the unknown (at least to us) south ridge, on the right.

The Cone

We rolled out of Boise a little after 5am in two vehicles, planning on picking up John in Mountain Home at the Pilot. When we got there, Tom was nauseous so we transferred our gear to John's truck and Tom returned home. Nice way to start your day.

We must have been pretty sleepy, because we were almost to Fairfield before we realized that when John got us back to Mountain Home, we had no ride back to Boise.

For now, it didn't matter. The road in was packed tracks in 6-8" of snow with a tall center berm. 4WD recommended.

We were walking at about 8:25, heading up through sage brush on the lower south ridge.

Lower slopes

The ridge starts out steep, climbing from about 6800' to 9300' without a break. We, on the other hand, took a break. Several of them. But we were having fun and it was great to be out with old friends and some new ones.

Taking a break

After the angle of the ridge eases at 9300', the ridge also narrows. And then it finally lets you see the actual summit.

Although the day was perfectly clear--perfectly-- there was wind aloft, indicated by the snow plume coming from the summit. The power of the wind increased as we gained height, and we were all a little concerned.

Summit view

We were also concerned and curious about the gendarmes on the ridge ("gendarme" is french for policeman or traffic cop, which might make you "arretez" or Stop). Would we find a route around them? If we did, would we get blown off the summit?

We were all enjoying the tremendous views as we discussed what lay ahead.



At the first gendarme, we dropped the snowshoes and passed to the east with a little scrambling, then some snow climbing.


The second gendarme was passed on the west side, via a "bowling alley" of loose talus. In between we got in a little post-holing. It builds character, I suppose.

Another gendarme

Then the last pitch before the summit lay before us. Due to foreshortening, it looked quite tall. But the ol' altimeter said we only had 300' to go.

Top of the mountain

Not long after a fun but easy winding snow pathway, we were all on top. It was 2:15. That is Kent Peak behind us. Kent shares a saddle with The Cone.

Note the clothing and general bundled-up appearance. It was just above 20° with occasional severe wind gusts.

This is looking back down our route from near the summit. The fuzzy stuff is the snow plume in one of those previously-mentioned severe wind gusts. Pretty impressive, considering the small amount of snow with which the wind had to work. Summit

After a few more gusts and a bunch more BS-ing, we were ready for lunch, but needed to find a protected area so we could enjoy our break. Heading down, we ducked behind this cliff; Perfect! Out of the wind and facing the sun. We lounged for a while, but the clock kept ticking.

Lunch break

Mickey's hands said it was time to get going. We reversed our post-holing, including a rocky section that showed evidence of our hip-deep floundering on the way up. Then we scrambled back down the gendarmes. This picture shows the climbing better than on the ascent.


By the time we had dispatched the gendarmes, the sun was easing its way down to the western horizon. Although the shadows got long, the temperature remained mild and the wind went still. Cruising on our snowshoe superhighway, we enjoyed some more ridge-top views before plunging back down the hill to the cars, arriving at about 5:40, just barely beating headlamp o'clock.

So if you're wondering how we got back to Boise, we decided that none of our wives would find much entertainment in a short trip to Mountain Home. So George, Dave and I stuffed into the little pickup of Erik and Jacob. Dave sat on the gear shift in the front middle, while George and Erik sat sideways in the jump seats in the back. This arrangement made my ride last weekend seem roomy. Next time we're going to try seven in a VW Bug.

Jacob and Erik's movie

Super Dave's trip report

Little Matterhorn

Mr. Natural Home | 2009 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski