North Twin and Red Cone


Got snowshoes? We get spanked on North Twin for leaving them in the car.

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

North Twin is an impressive peak, very visible from the highway. It also has a good ridge that gets lots of sun, so we expected it to be a safe climb without much snow to worry about. The only issue in our minds was the access up Elbow Canyon. But Willow Creek summit was almost melted out, so we figured we'd be able to get close enough. What's an extra mile or two of walking?

So we left Boise at 4am in a strong headwind (of course!) but making good time. After nearly hitting a deer over Cat Creek summit (I didn't, but the chrome of the bumper got a bit of polish), we parked at about 7200' and were beating feet at about 8:45. Low 30s and overcast.



We followed some fairly recent ATV tracks up the road into deepening snow, then when the road became impassable with deep snow, the ATVs simply went out into the sunny-side sagebrush and thrashed the crap out of it. Nice.

OK, enough of that, let's start climbing. Here John is scoping our best route across the snowy side of the valley and up the ridge.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

That's Red Cone straight ahead, with North Twin out of view to the left.

At first, the snow was fairly supportive, making our decision to leave the snowshoes in the truck seem reasonable, perhaps even smart.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

Any feeling of intelligence didn't last long.


Sunrise on the Pioneers

To keep moving up, we invented various techniques. I was too tired from doing it myself to get a picture of John crawling across the snow on all fours.

I was never so glad to get to steep, loose talus.

No snowshoes

By the time we got to the top of Red Cone, we were whipped. We sat for a while and ate, then dropped down, crossed the saddle, and started plodding up North Twin. My body was too filled with lactic acid to take photos. I just kept looking up at that 1200' of talus and tried to take another step.

No snowshoes

Here's what is probably the last 400 feet. From below it looked like it could be a problem, but it went really well. Despite feeling like a slug, we actually were climbing pretty fast.



Notice the perfect basin/range geology. Makes for great views.

You'll also notice the sun has come out. And there was almost no wind. Really, a nice day. But off to the west you could see the predicted storm approaching.

We had considered heading out the ridge for one more peak like SuperDave did. But getting farther from the car seemed like maybe not the best idea.


Most of the previous few hours had been spent thinking about getting back to the car. It wasn't that I was in a hurry. I just wondered if we were going to make it, considering the several miles of snow we were going to have to cross.

The snow was really weird. In places it was rock hard, like hard to even kick steps. Then two feet away, you'd sink in to mid-thigh. This constant change made it really tiring to walk in, yet butt-glissading wasn't working, either. I had better luck than John, which I attribute to more surface area back,... well, you know what I mean.

But we were lucky- posthole hell was only intermittent and wasn't more than a couple miles.


After selecting the correct road on our way out, we paused on Pass Creek road to look back at our peaks.

This was about as hard as I've worked for a peak in many years. Yet still a great day.

John's trip report


One note: We saw a fair amount of recent avy activity, mostly point release stuff coming off cliffs, but with lots of entrained snow. Be careful out there!

Map Camp
And for a conditions reference, this is the Mackay cam on 3/21. Camp

Home | 2015 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski