Monday, October 24, 2016

Trip Report: Rainbow Mountain (10,162) and Liberty Mountain (10,220), Lemhi Range, Idaho

  • October 22, 2016
  • Team: Solo
  • Summits: 
  • Rainbow Mountain (10,162)
  • Liberty Mountain (10,220)
  • Route: Northwest face on Rainbow 
  • YDS: Class 3-4
  • Route: East face on Silver Moon
  • YDS: Class 3
  • Total Elevation Gain: Approximately 4,000 feet
  • Total Miles: Approximately 6 miles

I accessed Rainbow Mountain via Coal Kiln Road. Heading north past Lone Pine on Highway 28 Look for the historical marker indicating the turnoff to Coal Kiln Road. Turn left at the marker, follow the road past the kilns and go as far as your vehicle will safely travel. A trail leads to a basin at the base of the northeast face. 

I had not been out for several weeks and was looking for a challenge. Instead of heading south to the saddle and then following the ridge heading northwest, I decided to take a more challenging route up the face directly to the summit. The crux was finding a route through the tall cliff band guarding the face. Making the route even more difficult was a few inches of snow.

Five feet into the climb I took a rough tumble straight to the ground. Few holds, snow, and vibram boots conspired against me. I considered the longer route to the saddle for a moment and then sought out another route up the cliffs. Now I knew that I needed at least an inch or 2 of rock ledge without snow to get good boot purchase. 

Route through the cliffs

Midway up the cliffs

I was a bit loco to trade the class 2 saddle route for the class 3/4 climb through the cliffs. A few moments during the ascent had my adrenaline going pretty good. Although the few vertical sections were not much more than 10 feet high, a fall would land on a steep snow covered slab sliding into another 10 feet vertical fall, etc. The combination of snow and few holds had me puckering. I wondered about what kind of damage I would sustain in a fall and concluded that a few broken bones would be the least of my problems. I knew one thing. I would not be down climbing this section. I began to think about a possible glissade down the saddle in the south.

The cliffs from the top of the saddle. Yes, I took the longer route down to avoid those cliffs. 
Above the cliffs the steep face led right to the summit. Post holing was all I had to contend with to the top and the wind scoured ridge.

The summit of Rainbow Mountain
Looking down the ridge to 10,274 and 10,546. I believe peak 10,693 and Mount Inspiration are peaking from behind 10,546.
I hustled down the ridge and to the saddle in the south. A short glissade and lots of big steps in the knee deep snow put me at the bottom of the basin in less than 45 minutes. Raced back to the truck and drove to Gilmore to tackle the second mountain of the day.

I knew a 4WD road just north of Silver Moon Gulch led to within about a mile from the summit of 10,220. If I hurried, I could summit and be back to the truck by dark. The path to the east face of the mountain follows a well defined creek bed. The going was easy, not much brush. 

Soon the forest gave way to an open slope of rocks leading to the ridge of the mountain. I followed it straight to the top.

The ridge in the center distance
The upper part of the steep ridge was a bit difficult. Deep snow made slow going. I inched my way to the top and then carefully treaded solid ice to open rocks and then made for the summit.

Summit ridge of Silver Moon Mountain (10,220)
Tagged the summit and then raced down. Arrived at the truck around 7:00 in fading twilight. A near perfect day with two summits in the bag.

When researching a route up this mountain, I was intrigued by the name of the gulch to the east of the mountain. Silver Moon Gulch captured my imagination and I though it fitting to refer to the mountain by this beautiful name. 

10/26/2016 Addendum: While the name Silver Moon Mountain may be poetic, I learned that an historical precedent was in place. Rick Bauhger shared historical notes about a believed climb by plant biologists J.H. Christ and W.Ward on July 15, 1945. They christened the mountain "Liberty Mountain" after Liberty Gulch to the east. I think that the historical significance of the name bears significant weight and should be honored.

Rainbow Mountain route
Silver Moon route
Finally, a few images made of the Lemhis, terrible light but, good for reference:

Bell, Umpleby, and Knoll
The ridge from Medusa north to 10,693 has no prominent peaks, in fact, I am not sure 10,693 has the required 300 feet of prominence to "qualify" as a peak. Any input would be appreciated. I have read a Rick Baugher account where he refers to 10,693 as Mount Perspiration and List of John states the mountain has a rise of 393 feet. Approaching this mountain from the east from 10,546, I can only find only about 280+ feet. If this is the case then the first peak north of Medusa would be Mount Inspiration (10,715). Any feed back would be appreciated. Below is a photo of this ridge beginning with Medusa on the left. Unfortunately, Mount Inspiration is further north.

Medusa on the far left and the slope of 10,274 in right corner