The Pioneers are a range in Idaho with its southern boundary rising up from the Snake River plain, on the Western side is the Big Wood River, the Valley you drive up to get to Hailey and Sun Valley and on the North and East by The Big Lost River. It is named after the Pioneers that settled there. It’s overshadowed by the droves of visitors that flock to the Sawtooths and the White Clouds, all magical places. But when you get into the Pioneers it’s like you’ve found a hidden mountain Eden without all the rules & people that a National Recreation Area designation draws.
Hyndman Peak looks over it all being the Pioneer’s tallest peak at 12,008 feet. You can see the Sawtooths, the White Clouds, and the Lost River Range with Idaho’s tallest peak, Borah from its summit. It’s the first 12K plus Peak I climbed and I was absolutely hooked. Peak bagging. Idaho has 9 mountains over 12K. I’ve got 2 of them being Hyndman and Borah. There is one of them that is supposed to be the more difficult one, maybe Mount Breitenbach or Donaldson, but they are all doable without technical climbing with ropes and points. Here’s a great overview of all of them.
A unique feature of most of the Pioneer Peaks along with those in the Lost River Range is they have very climbable South and Western routes leaving the North and East faces steep, very precipitous drop-offs that real mountaineering folks will scale with Class 5 technical climbing. You can still get on top and enjoy the view standing on the edge peering down 1K – 3K straight drop-off to what usually ends in a bowl or valley and many times with beautiful mountain lakes. You feel truly alive doing that. Trust me, you’ll want this experience for yourself.
It was maybe 1993 or so when a group of us headed up to the Pioneers and got on top of Hyndman. A fairly innocuous route, Hyndman is probably the most accessible of Idaho’s 12’s. Nathan Roland, Jim Greer, Heather Elsey, one other maybe Sean Kim did the climb. Not sure if Doreen was along for the trip. That was the crew, the mountain desert backpacking crew in my Lt single days in Idaho. We had my book of classic poems to read, maybe there was a guitar, sounds like something we’d do. Hiked in along a creek and base camped it, left the tents and gear there and next day headed up.
From what I recall the trek wasn’t too difficult and I remember being thrilled when the first view of the peak revealed itself knowing we were headed to the top. The most difficult going was the summit block where you have to get up a rock field/scree field. The scree and loose rock is very typical of Idaho mountains and usually you consider yourself lucky if you don’t find one on a climb. You have to distance yourself and spread out via taking different lines up so you don’t kick off a slide that hits someone below. If you do you scream out “rock!!!” so the person below you can dodge if need be. Fun!!
From the top the view is like none other. It gives you a spiritual feeling of gratitude and this world’s beauty. The experience is highly recommended regardless the elevation of mountain you gain. Get on a high point and just be thankful and grateful. Peace.