|Warbonnet Peak, July 2007
When Mark emailed a couple of days after
climbing Mt. Regan, he was wondering what we
were going to climb the coming weekend.
Realistically I was just hoping to lay on my couch
and watch baseball and golf all weekend (OK, not
golf but NASCAR) but Mark was feeling recovered
after his successful Denali trip a month earlier and was
really wanting to get out. I tried to scare him off by upping
the ante and suggesting Warbonnet Peak. Unfortunately he
took the bait and we started planning to get out. John had
wanted to go to the Tetons this weekend, but he agreed to head
out with us to climb the crown jewel of the Sawtooths instead.
We met John as we headed through Idaho City to Grandjean. We chose the
Grandjean approach as neither John nor Mark had been into Warbonnet from
that direction, and that mountain is not easy to get to no matter which direction
you approach it.
The temperature was about 90 degrees when we started hiking and didn't look to
get any cooler. As John and Mark ran up the trail like they were still in Alaska, I
lagged behind wondering when I would keel over and die. We made the six miles
to the camp site in about two hours and then swatted mosquitoes until dark.
At 7 am we were headed up the trail again for the final mile or so, then the real
approach began, across the creek and up to the high basin below the North face
of the mountain.
When we got to the lakes at about 10 am it was already about 85 degrees and
getting hotter, but there was the scree field and then the snow before we roped
up for the final 5.6-5.7 pitches to the summit. Mark and John were still sprinting
up the mountain and I pulled up the rear, until we got to the snow. Then by
default (I was wearing the heaviest boots) I led and kicked steps up the 40
degree snow field.
We were moving well and thinking we would be on the summit by 1-2 pm when
we got to the bergshrund and were stopped cold by a 20 ft wall of the ugliest
crumbling rock/ mud we had seen all day.
We looked at the options: #1--climb the crappy rock, through a small waterfall for
20 ft unprotected, #2--climb crappier rock for 20-30 feet away from the waterfall,
still unprotectable or #3--someone do a shoulder stand over the crappy rock onto
rotten snow and try and get an anchor into the snow so the other two could
yard up the rope to get over the crumbly face. We thought about every option
while knocking down more and more crappy rock and then sanity prevailed and
we decided to head home.
Since we had ropes, we had to use them and rap down the snowfield. Mark
wasn't too comfortable with our anchor, but rapped off it anyway, then he felt
better when we couldn't get the rope down without quite a bit of effort from
The trip home was uneventful for Mark and John, but I felt worse the farther down
the mountain into the heat I went. By the time I got back to camp I wanted to puke
and pass out from the heat. I was wasted and felt dehydrated even though I had
drank nearly 2 gallons of water and Gatorade during the day. When I felt
somewhat recovered, we headed down the trail to the car; Mark and John at
their usual pace "like a horse headed to the barn" and me WAY behind. The
farther down the trail I went the worse I felt and suffered pretty severely from
heat exhaustion. I had to stop several times and still drank another 1/2 gallon
of water on the way back to the car.
Not one of my better days in the mountains.
I knew I should have stayed home and watched golf and NASCAR!!