Salzburger Spitzl 2010


A smoky day in the Pioneers still offers great views from Salzburger Spitzl.

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

After an incredibly windy, stormy night in Boise where I got little sleep, I was up at 3am, getting ready for the drive. I left at 3:30, solo, and got to the trailhead right at 6:30 (I drove the speed limit).

A quick change of clothes, add some boots. Eat a banana and drink a bit more coffee. I was walking at 6:50. Elevation about 7040'.


The first few miles of this trail are extremely pleasant. It follows the North Fork of Hyndman Creek at a mellow grade through trees and open meadows. After about 3.5 miles and gaining about 1200', the trail "ends," either heading uphill to Pioneer Cabin or continuing up the valley as a climber's trail. Somewhere near there I could see the Spitzl.

Our objective

Alex, Chris, Steve, and the two pups were camping at the little lake at 8650'. The plan was for me to meet them at the lake, but Steve and Alex had instead walked down to the trail to meet me, concerned that I would have a tough time finding the lake.

So at 7:50 or so we were now officially a group on a climb.

Chris stayed at the lake and read, napped, and went for a few short dog walks. She later said it wasn't too tough.



The climber's trail lasts until you get to a thick willow patch. Fortunately for us, we didn't have to cross it, instead heading uphill and vaguely following the creek into the hanging valley above.

Creek and rock

I love these hanging valleys.

Poor Alex was having stomach issues, so he turned around somewhere in here. But he'd done the climb before, so he wasn't too distraught.

hanginig valley

After leaving Alex, Steve and I were immediately on the talus with the summit in view. We were heading generally for the saddle, then up the ridge.


After hiking through the easy talus, the dropoff on the other side of the ridge is a bit startling.

Final ridge
Just after we hit the saddle, we heard a bunch of rock fall, a sure sign of our buddy. I always feel lucky when I see a goat. Goat

Two more old goats.

We gained the summit at 11:15. The day continued to be overcast, and now it was pretty windy. We bundled up and took some pictures. Then we quickly checked the summit register and signed in. We were the third party since early July.

All of the sudden I realized that my hands were really cold. Steve's little key-fob thermometer said 27°. With the wind-chill of about 15-20mph breeze, it was no wonder!

And this is August?


But I took a few more pics anyway.

Devil's Bedstead East

Devil's Bedstead East
Goat Peak (and the relatively small Florian's Nudl). Goat Peak
Duncan's Ridge Duncan's Ridge
Johnstone Peak and Baldy, the Sun Valley ski area. If it looks a little smoky, it was. There were fires started in the storm last night, and we could both see and smell the smoke. Also note the precipitation heading our way. But the precip never really got underway, just a little hail or graupel. Still, with folks waiting back at camp it was time to head down. Johnstone

We descended a slightly different line, chasing green swales that dropped us down slightly farther up the valley. Definitely an easier path if you can find it. And fun to be climbing amongst wildflowers amidst all that rock.

Green swales
And here's looking back at our peak. Spitzl

Steve and I contoured around on the well-established sheep trails under Handwerk Peak, then cut cross country back to the lake. We all ate and conversed, then they packed up camp. I felt a little under-gunned in my light daypack as I followed them with their huge backpacks back down the trail.

We got back to the cars right at 6 and parted ways until next weekend.

Back to the cars

Mr. Natural Home | 2010 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski