664. Idaho’s Mountain Ranges

Tom Lopez’ Idaho: A Climbing Guide
Idaho’s Mountain Ranges, The Sawtooths Solo
Climbing Borah The Hard Way

Okay this Good Thing is a kick-off to a love affair I’ve had since my 20’s with Idaho’s Mountains. My dear dear sweet menly friends say to me now… just last night, as a matter of fact, “Weinie,” you’ll be coming back to Texas in a few years. My response: yeah, what mountain ranges does Texas have again? Well, there’s the Chisos in Big Bend, there’s the Davis Range in West Texas with the big telescope, and there’s the range on the Western-Northern border that Texas shares with New Mexico, called the Guadalupe. Beyond that…???

Texas’ Mountain Ranges

In Idaho there are 110, count them One-Hundred-And-FREAKING-Ten mountain ranges!!! That’s 110 separate ranges all together not just separate peaks!! Check it:

So my fave ranges (at least the ones I know better from studying or have been to a few times) are the Pioneers, the Sawtooths, the Seven Devils, The Salmon, and either West or Cuddy-Hitt. Let’s pick out some of my faves from each. But first check out this cool article of 25 beautiful Idaho mountains.

The Sawtooths:

The Rakers, A Band
The Sawtooths
The Rakers, North & South

The Rakers are a beauty of two Sawtooth jagged-fanged teeth. So remote they are 17 miles from any trailhead and there’s no direct routes. In a lesser-visited Southern end of the park, The Rakers are often spotted in the distance from some far away peak. But they are unmistakeable. I’ve seen them twice, once from the top of Thompson Peak to the North and then Two Point Mountains in the Boise Mountains to the Soutb. They were unmistakable like some devil-ish twist of barbed wire thickened nails reaching to pierce the heavens.

Mount Reagan

The following is a pic of the Mount Reagan climb and it’s one I don’t think I’d do, a class 3 climb which means at some point you have to use your hands and legs and feet at the same time, four points connection with the rock. The description sounds poop-inducingly scary!!!

Among Class 3’s there is wide variance! Some can be a walk in the park but some may have exposure. Exposure means that if you mess up and fall to the right or to the left or either way… it’s gonna be bad. So bad. Mount Reagan reads like a fall could be very very bad.

Mount Reagan Crux

Looking at the photo it actually looks doable but the kind of doable that you have to breathe deep and calm yourself down and soldier on, being confident you can do it. We’ll see. Here’s a description from Summit Post on Mount Reagan that may give you a feel for what it could be like.

The Tough Part is the Tip Top of The Red Line

From Sawtooth Sean on Summitpost on the Southeast Ridge route:

“This classic scramble starts at the south end of Sawtooth Lake near Lake 8271. From the lake, enter a gulley until it becomes almost vertical at which point you move west onto gentler tree-sloped terrain. Follow this ridge keeping left to avoid near vertical drop-offs. The ridge dead-ends at the summit dome. From here it looks nearly vertical- there is a slot ledge system on the NE side of the summit dome. This slot can be snow-filled and looks nearly impassible at time. Follow it for 50 exposed feet, looking down at Sawtooth Lake as to find a scree filled ledge. Follow a rotten gulley to the summit ridge. Carefully retrace your steps. The majority of the scramble is Class 2-3, with just the summit pitch being Class 4.

Total Elevation Distance Gain from Iron Creek: 6.5 miles / 4200 feet”

If you’ve read a few of these and know the terms, it translates to, “The Mount Reagan climb will scare you shitless!!!” To me the concerning part is this, “Follow it for 50 exposed feet, looking down…” S-to the-I-to the mother flipping-Tee!!! That means you have to travel 50 feet on mostly all fours and have to look down to your certain death!!! And then there’s this: “…with just the summit pitch being Class 4.” That means that just when you are at the tip top, just the tip mind you, feeling like you are on top of the world!!!… when you feel you are just on the rock in the middle of the sky you could use ropes and secure them to more rock, or another climber,… so if you slipped it wouldn’t be real real bad OR you could go old school style and free climb it and suck it up butter cup!!! People do it all the flipping time!!! Let’s go climb it shall we?? YOLO and FoMO but also YODO (you only die once!) ;0)

Mount Heyburn, Sawtooths
Grand Mogul, Sawtooths
Hortsmann Peak, Sawtooths

And I could keep going on and on posting beautiful mountain peaks in the Sawtooths I have no business being on with my current mountain skill level. It’s not to say I’d want to push myself and learn to and get the gear and lack of fear to do it. For a historical perspective of Sawtooth Climbing, check it!!!

Miriam Underhill on North Raker. SIHA Archives.

Now for the Seven Devils!!

L to R, Baal, She and He Devil
Devil’s Thumb, The Seven Devils

Salmon River Mountains:

Cuddy-Hitt Mountains


Idaho’s Mountain Ranges. So good. So good.

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