843. Coming Down the Mountain

Tom Lopez’s “Idaho: A Climbing Guide”

Every since I got to Idaho, I’ve had this book with the majority of Idaho’s mountains worth climbing. Not sure how Tom Lopez researched it but it sounds like he has either been around the majority of those mountains, on top of them, or has an incredible group of friends that fed him that information. I get great satisfaction out of researching the climb, doing it, coming back down and highlighting that mountain. There’s a few of them that I’ve attempted that I’ll go back to, to just highlight those as well. Snowyside in the Sawtooths, Jughandle near McCall, etc. etc. So this one’s going to be long and full of pictures and videos, like a trip report but not so detailed. Maybe some music thrown in. So buckle up and read on my friends. If you make it to the end and we find ourselves in a Starbucks at the same time for some reason…bam free coffee drink on me.

Though I used to use Tom Lopez’ book back in like 1993 on eventually Al Gore created the internet. And with it some marvelous informational tools, like Summit Post. It’s like a crowd-sourced mountain climbing, hiking resource from other people’s experiences climbing those mountains. I love it and you can check Two Point here.

Base Camp just a short Walk Through the Woods to the South Fork of the Boise River
These are cool flowers, that’s a butterfly in the upper right corner
South Fork of the Boise River (and yes that thing that looks like a Dragon Fly in the upper middle is indeed a Bald Eagle.
Smoky Symmetry

It was a smoky day. This is pretty typical in certain places in Idaho whether the smoke comes from far away like California, the forests of Oregon, or Idaho…’tis the season. It was nature’s way of renewing itself, the grand design of things. Lightning strikes, sets off a fire, it burns the undergrowth, trees, sadly sometimes Bambi’s Mom… and the earth renews itself. Circle of life shit right there.

Looking like one is getting closer to the Sawtooths. Rises out of the the South Fork Boise drainage
My Climbing Partners, pre-climb. Kyra is looking flirty while Koufax is lost in thought…or peace
The Other Climbing Party Member. Would you let this man guide you in the mountains??
There’s a lesson to be learned here

Here’s a deep thought: the mountain reveals itself. I say this because if you are with me on a climb in someplace I haven’t been before, chances are highly likely just as it’s highly likely a person driving around in a jacked up truck with silhouetted hot girl stickers flying both a MAGA Trump flag on one side and a Confederate Flag on the other…probably is not going to be open to be convinced to turn blue and turn Biden. Whew!!! I lost myself in that analogy or is it a metaphor or simile?? English, grammar, and writing can be so tricky! Ain’t nobody got time for that. So the point is… chances are good I’m going to stop you and point out some mountain peak and claim that’s where we are heading to…and it ain’t even remotely the peak. The mountain reveals itself. That’s the underlying theme we’ll return to.

Tip Top Mine at 8,800 Feet

So you follow a jeep road after crossing a creek, Bear Creek…I mean you don’t go over a bridge, you drive right through that puppy. About an 4.25 mile drive, agonizingly slow miles, bottom out scraping miles, rocks and rocks and rocks…you arrive. And you take on foot this other impossibly criminally rough jeep road up, up and up to the Tip Top Mine. And it’s weird man, it’s weird. You can find some really weird shit up in the mountains away from everything. Want to know more about this mine, check it. From what little I discovered the mine had gold in it. Gold I say!!! It’s been there since at least 1883 and when I came on there’s this weird tin “A Frame” structure with box springs underneath it and all around it. Evidently the miners slept up there. How they got this stuff up there…man I don’t know!! Horses?? Donkeys??? Jackasses?? We don’t need no stinking horses.

Again, not Two Point

The mountain reveals itself. Another truism I’ve found is that the mountain looks more foreboding from afar than it does up close. This is true for ski runs too for the most part. Sometimes when you get all close mas peso always with the terrain you do find out it’s truly gnarled and just have to say… not today man, not today. The lesson learned is that from afar it may look very daunting but when you get up close and start the work on it… the mountain reveals itself as doable. A path opens up. This can be translated to life as well. Facing some challenging times, research and analyze the problem, plan ahead, but don’t waste your time worrying and getting inside your head and talking yourself out of trying. Follow the plan but be prepared to deviate if the plan is total crap. Allow yourself the opportunity to get up face to face to that tower, that peak, whatever the obstacle it is you need to overcome…and the path and the mountain reveal itself. Give yourself a chance though. Don’t let fear back you out of something you desire. Enough of that positive mumbo James Arthur Ray jumbo talk.

The View from the Ridge

If you actually watched that last video…well that ridge line was just the beginning. It was about 1.5 miles from there making a puzzle out of the ridge, navigating around towers, up and down, plenty of rock to be had kinda journey to even get to the point of thinking about how to tackle the top. That ridge line made this the toughest climb I’ve done..yep more so than Borah, moreso than Thompson in the Sawtooths. It’s rated as a class 3 climb which means you’ll probably have to go 4-point and route find along the way. 4-point means, two feet, two hands in contact with the mountain…scrambling baby!! It makes it interesting. But one class 3 climb to another…can be very very different in levels of difficulty. Mount Reagan in the Sawtooths sounds like a beautiful peak to climb…it gets you right above the most photographed lake in the Sawtooths but if you read the description of the climb and they use the word “exposure” well that’s gonna get your heart pumping and if something goes wrong in that exposed area, it can go very very wrong & quick. Two Point wasn’t that. I did feel exposure in one place, getting up to the North Point peak…there was what I would call a chicken-out ridge. There’s a famous one on Borah…but I’ve been there and walked across that where a group of Boy Scouts were ahead of us roping up. This was way more scary. 1,500 foot drop on the left side, and exposure but a ledge about 15 feet below on the right. If you are going to make a mistake you wanna do that on the right side. There were actually rocks on the right side ridge that you could anchor on so if you approached it that way…no prob. I crossed it on the ridge and made the mistake of peering over to the left. This feeling of fear has happened to me a few times on climbs. And it can be debilitating…which is not good. If you get freaked out, it will be harder to do the things you need to do and to move in such a way to keep you safe. Your instinct is to just flatten and cling to the rock. That’s okay if you can stop yourself, breathe deep and get your confidence back. Don’t let fear get a hold of you. That’s no way to live. The mountain reveals itself.

Finally the Mountain Revealed Itself

So, finally, if you watched that last video…that’s the true high point of Two Point, the south peak. The mountain revealed itself. So when you look at a topo if you know how to read them, there’s a lot of good info there…but it can also be grossly misleading!

Somewhere along the way there was this rock, impressive rock. The rock for about 95% of the hike was stable but it was those 5% that could proved tricky. Traversing the ridge you had to find your way around a few pinnacles along the way which meant rock fields. And sometimes you had to go down to go back up again. There was a section of going down where I stepped on a large rock, usually those are the ones that you find more stable. This one wasn’t. After getting off it on the downside, it started it’s fall. And I was right below it. Size-wise I’d say it was about 4 to 5 feet across by 1 foot. Anywhooo… it was coming down. I was below it. Directly in the center. I turned back up the hill to look and saw it coming. One quick jump to the side and it tumbled past. Could have been bad, but it wasn’t which really in the end is what counts isnt’

That’s what my actual path looked like
Don’t Entirely Believe the Lines

Topo 101…see where the lines get close together…yeah you are going to want to avoid that. Each line represents an elevation. So if you follow along the 9400 foot contour line that’s at the bottom left…it will be 9400 feet wherever that line runs. There’s an interval between lines, this map looks like 50 feet. A lot can happen in 50 feet & the map doesn’t show that!! So what is lost…is all that terrain in between lines. So you see point 10,060? That’s the North Tower or Point of Two Point Mountain. That’s the one I made it up…not on the tip top but maybe 5-6 feet below it. The lines aren’t alarmingly close together there but when you get on it you realize a lot of shit is going down within the 50 feet elevation difference. That’s okay, I consider that mountain climbed and didn’t feel like I needed to be perched on top of 10,124 the true high point of the mountain. Chances are that could have been accomplished but by then we were running out of water, the dogs were kinda shaken by that ridge crossing, I was shaken to be honest…we were done. Always do a risk analysis for safety and take a moment to make sure you are making the most educated informed decisions and go forth…but pause and take that time. The wilderness can be unforgiving for those who don’t. Trust me. Some people look at the pictures and hear the stories…and it would seem…oh, it’s a mountain Disney Land, a playground to be enjoyed. Well, that can be true but the Matterhorn ride doesn’t kill. The actually Matterhorn will and can and doesn’t reward stupidity.

As it turns out…I hadn’t been up the North Tower but Point 9641 on the way to the North Tower

Mountain navigation isn’t something you do once and plan for and it’s done…it has to be actively updated as you go. If you watched the video I had been up a subsidiary point but hadn’t made it up to the North Point of Two Point yet. When I point out the rock behind me…yeppers…that was the shoulder and beginning of the North Tower. I scrambled down below it and took this ridge like rock-boulder of a field up. Four points most of the way.

Little Mountain Badge of Pride right there.
Evidently to promote Tourism Idaho has placed state shaped rocks throughout the mountain to discover
Two Point Scared Dog Ridge, North Tower
Kyra refusing to budge

Okay let’s talk about climbing with dogs. They are the best and greatest companions. After this climb though…I have a new rule. No class 3 solo climbs unless I know it first with the pups. I’m not saying it was dangerous but at this point, they clearly weren’t enjoying themselves. After being 2 days down from the mountain Koufax, boy dog, is still recovering from some scrapes on his paw pads. It comes down to safety really. Your dogs may be natural mountain goats. Granted these two retriever brother and sisters are more fearless than Hamlet the Lab-Retriever mix that made it up to Mount Cramer in the Sawtooths where I got engaged on the top. But still…this was right before that ridge passing that had a 1,500 foot drop off on the other side… it was passable for them. The side you see was the stable good side and had rocks below the ridge you could get firm footholds, anchored and if you happened to fall it might have been all of ten feet down to a landing. It might have been bad, but not too bad. I crossed over…got shaky, made it to the top-ish. took pics and videos… then the dogs refused to budge. Damn!!!! Kyra, my fearless one, who can make it up and down pitches that boy dog wouldn’t dream of wasn’t not moving an inch. Her fun meter had been pegged!!! So I had to screw up the courage and go on the left side of the ridge…perspective from this picture, get solid foot and hand holds, then dog lift them over the section to solid ground. And when they were in mid-air it was like trying to move an immovable object. Kyra got planted on the other side then wouldn’t go forward. Oh oh, no place to transport boy dog to!! Finally I pushed her forward. Koufax was next and he’s a bit heavier. He was frozen so it was a struggle even getting him to solid ground to get him to move under his own power again. That’s when I made up my mind…okay no class three for these pups. The other annoying thing Kyra does is sometimes when terrain gets steeper she wants to be under your feet. I think it makes her feel safer. However this is super dooper dangerous. I have to stop and cuss a bit and encourage her to keep a safe distance. The only thing is that sometimes she sneaks up behind you & under your feet Z’s No more class threes and I’ll just have to overcome owner guilt leaving them behind from time to time. It’s the smart thing to do.

On The Top-ish

And coming back down. It wasn’t a walk in the park. I did some butt scooting, a key navigational choice, running out of water, scree skiing, discovering the road with .5 miles left and not looking forward to what appeared to be a steeper pitch cross country to get back to the Honda Pilot of love & leisure. So in the end the mountain revealed itself. Two of those towers looked super daunting from far off but when you got close and just focused on that next step, the rock below your feet and the rock you were moving too…piece of cake. That’s how to tackle life’s problems, not with fear but in looking for the solution to reveal itself…and then just do it.

Two Point on the way back down

So looking back…that mountain doesn’t look so threatening does it? But you know in your mind and soul…you were up there. You saw God’s world revealed. That’s a good thing. And that makes all the difference.

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