In our last several Inside Idaho series, we went underground. First, we uncovered the Legend of the Kuna Caves. Next, we unearthed Idaho’s state gem – the star garnet, and then we dug up some history of Idaho’s gold rush.
This week, we’re going above, way above – over 12,000 feet – and taking a look at a destination peak that sits high in Idaho’s skies.
Mount Borah, which overlooks the plains of Mackay in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Custer County, is Idaho’s tallest mountain peak.
According to the Idaho Department of Commerce, 3,000 to 5,000 people climb Mount Borah each year.
While it’s a popular climb, there is one obstacle hikers face on the trek.
The standard way to the top is by climbing the Southwest Ridge, which is famously known as “Chicken Out Ridge”. The route to the top got its nickname because many climbers back out at the ridge before reaching the Mount Borah Summit.
So what makes the ridge challenging?
“Chicken Out Ridge clambers up a rocky spine protruding with blocky handholds,” Steve Graepel wrote for Visit Idaho. “If you’re not a scrambler, the ridge will feel unnerving at first. But negotiating the geology quickly becomes natural. You’ll be surprised how confidence soars as you make your way across the ridge.”
To get to the peak, climbers have to climb the ridge successfully. Once past the ridge, a trail brings climbers to the top.
“Chicken Out Ridge climaxes in a narrow, knife-edged col just before the main ridge crest,” an article on IdahoClimbingGuide.com notes. “Although the route is well marked, many people are reluctant to cross the lower, rocky-ribbed section of Chicken Out; hence the name.”
Making the trek
To get to the Birch Springs Trailhead, you’ll turn off into the parking lot located along US-93 between Mile Markers 129 and 130.
In less than four miles, climbers gain more than 5,300 feet in elevation. And depending on experience, it could take anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to reach the summit. The best time to climb is in the summer, between July and September.
Those who do make it past the ridge and to the peak say the view makes the difficult climb worthwhile.
“Being the highest point in Idaho, the views are unbeatable,” an article by climbtallpeaks.com notes. “Mount Borah is surrounded by mountains, and you get a panoramic view of the 6 major mountain ranges in Idaho.”
For more information on Chicken Out Ridge and climbing Mount Borah, click here.