Mustang and Brocky Peaks

A wild weekend in Wildhorse Basin

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

Brian and I spent Friday in McCall doing crevasse rescue with a huge cabinet, using our climbing gear to hoist it onto the second-floor deck as the only was to get it into the upstairs.

Then we rolled at 4:45 Saturday morning for the interminable drive to Wildhorse canyon. It was about 5.5 hours. We had just barely parked and used the toilet when Ralph and Chris showed up. Perfect!

And just let me say- even if you have no interest in rock climbing, these two valleys should be on your list. Absolutely incredible scenery, total solitude, and wildness. Go!

Day 1

We were all four headed for Mustang Peak, although Brian and I were doing the backpack thing and climbing one route, while Ralph and Chris rode mountain bikes, did a different route, and returned to their car the same evening.


So Brian and I saddled up at 11am and marched the 4.0 miles/575' gain to the bridge across the creek (most of which I could have driven in the Suby, but was really a pretty walk).

Then we walked about 100 yards up Wildhorse Creek and set up camp, then re-packed for the climb. We left camp right at 1pm.

Bridge over Wildhorse

10 minutes past our camp, we left the trail. After some troublesome bushwhacking through an old avy path overgrown with krumholtz, we finally broke out at the bottom of our route.

Lower talus

We were feeling good and moving fast. When we got within voice of Ralph and Chris (note faint red circle), they could not believe it was us.

Shortly after this, they veered left to gain the ridge and the Broken Arrow Arete.

Catching up

Meanwhile, Brian and I continued up the 'scoops' in the middle of the face. As we got higher, we got higher.

Down the route

It was a bit chilly, so we tried to stay in the sun. But when climbing ropeless you go where the rock tells you. Unfortunately Brian was listening better than me and I ended up in this cold corner.

Upper bowl

Just before we ran out of sun, we found a ledge and donned the gear. Then Brian led up the headwall for about 2.5 pitches. Low 5th class (5.4?), but quite steep.

Brian leading
Ralph took this pic. Both Brian (orange) and I (red) are in there if you look hard enough.

Mustang headwall
Photo: Ralph

Here comes the sun. Topped out

We poked around on top a bit and investigated the way to Tower #2 (the peak's highpoint). But that required a drop and then more climbing, and it was already after 6pm. Time to head down.

Mustang summit

So here's our route, roughly.

You can walk off the back of the right-hand shoulder.

Mustang routePhoto: Bob Boyles

By the time we got back to our tent the sun was long gone. Tent-to-tent was about 6.5 hours.

When we got back, we hustled some fresh water and were ready when Ralph and Chris showed up with a cup of hot joe for them.Then they bombed on down the trail, leaving Brian and I to get in our bags at 8pm. Early, but after 16 hours of hustle, oh so Ahhh.


Day Two

Our objective for today was Brocky Peak.

So with the sun up, we packed up and sauntered the 100 yards back to the trailhead. Just a few minutes later Bob and Tom showed up right at 9am.

This time we walked up the Left Fork of Wildhorse Creek. We sniffed our way through the burn trying to follow the trail. Then up a grassy hillside to chase some serious elk trails.

Taking a breakPhoto: Bob Boyles

Unfortunately, Tom was having stomach issues, so didn't feel like continuing.
TomPhoto: Bob Boyles
Bob graciously stayed back with him. They wandered about, then retreated to a sunny, grassy spot to relax and admire the day while Brian and I struggled.
Photo: Lopez/Bob Boyles

It is a LONG way up to the start of the gully, with loads of talus and about 3k' gain from the trailhead.

But the sight of the gully made my heart go even faster. Here I'm looking down on Brian after the first (and probably most difficult) section.

Bottom of route

Bob took this looking up near the same spot. Hey guys- you DO have a rope, y'know!


Bottom of route
Photo: Bob Boyles

So Brian and I kept on... not sure what was going on below, but Bob had told us to not wait. The only difference was that we had to be extra careful not to knock anything off. A challenge in any event....

At this point, we've made the turn into the right-hand gully and are looking up the left-hand turn.


Photo with arrow

Second gully

As you get high in the second gully, you then turn right.

Bottom of third gully

From the third section, you can see the summit up there somewhere.

Up the third gully
This is looking down the third gully. Lots of elevation. Downthe thrid gully
Just short of the summit, we found two different routes. Mine got me to the top quicker, so I got this pic of Brian looking over the ridge. Looking over the ridge

And then making his summit moves.

summit moves

We were ecstatic to be standing on the summit. But I couldn't relax knowing we had to downclimb all that.

When we got back to terra firma we compared notes. It really wasn't all that bad; we never did get out the rope. And it's only about 1000' of technical stuff. But you definitely have to pay attention. On the way up, we tackled things directly to avoid loose rock. On the way down, we worked the ledges and kept it mostly at an easier grade. We had a few false starts on the descent, in some sections taking extra time to find a route that looked acceptable. Our ground-to-ground time for the climb was about 3.5 hours.

Then came the long slog back to our camping gear, then down the road to the car. And then home at about 11:30. What a way to celebrate my 56th. What a wild weekend!

Brocky summit

So here's our route, roughly.

You have to downclimb the same line. Easy rappel anchors are not easy to find.

Brocky routePhoto: Bob Boyles
Epilogue: When I got home, I found a tick on my back. Apparently a tick without a calendar!

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