The Riddler


An Idaho classic, The Riddler is seldom climbed. More fun for us!

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

I really didn't want to spend time in a car this weekend, but when Tom suggested The Riddler, I was all in.

So after an eternity of windshield time, we were at the trailhead, about 9pm. This photo was taken as we departed the next morning.



You start off walking what is now an ATV trail up the Middle Fork of Pass Creek.


At the second drainage on the right, turn and follow the cow trails. Try not to step in the cow patties.

Is that our peak up there? Sheesh!


We followed occasional elk trails and Larry's pre-programmed GPS track up the valley (it's now dry) through easy woods and occasional meadows.

Although you are heading up what is essentially a steep drainage, it is occasionally down hill. My interpretation is that this is moraine and kettles.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

The valley floor started to be interrupted by occasional lateral talus slides. But these again alternated with pleasant forest.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

But then that all ended. For perspective, play "Where's Waldo?" and find Tom and Larry in the photo.


Sunrise on the Pioneers

There were several of these talus walls and steps. None of them were all that bad, but they always looked horrendous. And they were making us hallucinate a route in hopes of getting off the talus.

Patience, Grasshopper. You must go to the END of the valley.

No snowshoes

But only to find another 1000' of talus.

However, that is finally the summit up there.

No snowshoes

In case it doesn't look steep in the previous picture.

Here we can finally see the route. Or at least it looks like it COULD be a route. Camp
With about 1000' to go, I ditched my ski pole and we headed into the scrambly terrain. Camp
A little higher and a gully was forming. There are actually many parallel mini-gulllys, so we used those to ameliorate the rockfall hazard somewhat. So most of the time, I couldn't see Tom or Larry, who was each in his own personal gully full of crap. Camp
Tom took this (much better) photo of Larry's gully full of crap. Camp

But eventually the mini-gullys full of crap converge into the One True Gully Full of Crap. We went one at a time.

Note: We decided that this route needs about 1000 ascents, which might push some of the crap off.


Just short of the ridgetop, we exited the gully.

Nice view.


Now with about 150' to go, we were on the east ridge.

There were a few cotton balls floating about, the tail-end of a front that had temporarily cleared out the smoke.

That's Diamond Peak in the background. Camp

Summit. Big smiles all around.

It was sort of hazy from wildfire smoke, but we still had a smashing time naming peaks.

We were disappointed to not find the main register, even as short as the list would be. We did, however, find a note left by the Animal hisself, Wes, who had traversed over here from Diamond.


What goes up must come down. On descent, we swung to the left (climber's right) into the steeper loose talus, which allowed us to avoid downclimbing the loose and crappy scramble section.

Our team mascot. Camp

Then it was down and down and down. The initial talus wasn't bad, but due to size, it actually got worse for descending as we got lower. Then there was miles and miles of park-like forest and kettles. Miles. It was with some relief that we finally got to the cow pies and ATV trail, even though that meant we still had a couple more miles. Note the lengthening shadows, a metaphor for how this long, long day affected our lives.

Final note: Tom and I agreed that if you stay on route, this is no more than Class 3. However, the rockfall hazard is substantial, so wear a brain bucket.


When we hit the rig, we spent a few minutes cooling our tired feet, then headed off for tomorrow's outing at Big Windy.

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