This peak in the Idaho White Clouds is fantastically climbable. At 11,815 you’ll get a view on top that is no doubt incomparable. I’m used to seeing this white-ish monster from across the Valley on Sawtooth hikes and it is alluring. It probably sees a lot of usage being the tallest peak in the White Cloud Wilderness. But maybe doesn’t get as many people being so close to the Sawtooths that draw people in, in droves.
Granted accidents do happen here and a life without risk to me isn’t pushing those boundaries in your mind. I’d rather get injured doing something I’m very passionate about, peak bagging, then getting injured mowing my yard, driving my car, or falling off my couch.
Tom Lopez’ excellent book, “Exploring Idaho’s Mountains,” list three route, all class 3. Which just means that it’s doable without any type of supports. There can be some steepness & exposure, but chances are the average joker that knows some route finding, is fairly sure footed, isn’t afraid to do some scrambling sections (parts where you need to use your hands and feet), in decent shape, can make it up. That’s a long list of qualifications but the average Joe or Jill that knows their way around the mountains can make it up. However in Idaho class 3’s can also be a little hairy. We have something called scree here which is a field of loose rock and making your way up can be an exercise of frustration. There’s a little screen on Castle, there’s some steepness, route finding, but it’s totes doable.
How would I do it? There’s North Side routes but the approach is more driving and a longer hike to base. Then there’s two routes from Chamberlain Basin which is also kinda a long hike but more approachable from the Boise area. Drive in early, backpack to Washington Lake, camp overnight, strap on a runner’s vest with supplies and fill up the hydration bladder, run around the south side of this ridge to get to Chamberlain Basin and the base of Castle. Then transition to climbing, go the big gully route being careful of falling rock, if in a group go wedge and not trail, helmets on, and summit by noon-ish if not earlier. Return and if you feel like it run back to Washington Lake. It will be a full day but well worth it. I suppose you could do this all in the same day with an early start and just overnight at Washington on the way back down the mountain.
Maybe in the next few weeks this is an adventure to be had. We’ll see. Just no one tell Ma Sarah Swinney until I’m back down ;0).