Dates: September 25-27, 2020
Leader: Forest Dean
Participants: Elizabeth Moore, Bryan Kercher, Sam Hathcock
A group of 4 of us headed south to the Pioneer Range in Idaho for this fine late September weekend on Friday, arriving at various times. None of us had ever set foot in the Pioneers before, so this was a grand adventure! We set up camp just to the north of Wildhorse Campground on some dispersed camping area along the creek on the north side of the range. A nice campfire provided us with some warmth as the evening started to give way to drizzle and then rain and then a duck into our respective sleeping areas.
On Saturday morning, we awoke somewhat late (7:00am) got ready slowly (due to overcast skies) and finally started up the road towards Hyndman Peak just before 9:00am. The rain had stopped by the time we started. Not having much beta on this Wildhorse approach route, we needlessly hiked 4 ½ miles up a rough, but very passable road to the trailhead. Oh well, served as a nice warmup! From there we hit a very well used and maintained trail that oddly doesn’t show up on any map we could find. This took us up into a high cirque to the east of the huge vertical wall of Hyndman and the amazing horn called Old Hyndman (very reminiscent of Mt. St. Nicholas in GNP). A steep 4th class climb up to the south part of the ridge connecting the two took awhile, but we all made it safely. From there, it was a long, slow slog up 1400’ to the summit of Hyndman (12,009’) to the north. This is one of Idaho’s nine 12,000’ summits and (from the west) perhaps the easiest. We saw quite a few other climbers on what was turning out to be a beautiful day. We arrived at various times, took a few pictures, then, at the late hour of 4:00, began our descent. We used two rappels to get off the ridge and back into the Wildhorse drainage. From there it was just a slog out. Darkness caught us, and we hiked the last hour and a half by headlamp arriving back around 9:00pm. We got a nice fire going, made some salmon filets, and enjoyed the starry evening until fatigue overtook us. About an 18 mile round trip today with 5000’ of elevation gain over 12.5 hours.
Awoke Sunday to a frosty but clear morning. Sam decided he was tired enough and got up and headed home. Bryan, Elizabeth and I couldn’t resist the perfect weather so we stuck to the plan and at 8:00 headed up the Boulder Creek trail on tired legs. This excellent trail began only a quarter mile from our camp. We hiked up this for about 3 miles, then hit an old non-maintained (but in perfect shape)trail that took us up to a lake about ¾ miles to the NE of Devil’s Bedstead. Our objective was the north face of this amazing peak. From the lake we hiked and scrambled up to a saddle on the NE Ridge of the peak. We then did a slightly ascending traverse across steep, boulder covered mountainside until we were about in the middle of the north face. From there, we headed straight up a boulder and slab strewn gully, working our way around fresh snow patches and trying not to slip on frost covered rock. We gained the NE Ridge again about 400’ below the summit, then weaved our way up the ever steepening mountain to the summit. This was a solid class 3 ascent of about 1400’ with the current conditions. Lots of fun! We reached the top about 1:00. The summit is rather small with 4 prominent ridges leading off in different directions. Views were amazing today with a near total lack of smoke and haze. Devil’s Bedstead East (11,865’- not to be confused with the lower peak labeled ‘The Devil’s Bedstead’ on topo maps) is one of Idaho’s most aesthetic looking peaks and its north face is listed on the 50 classic ski descents in the US. After a few pics and snacks, we departed and began the slow, careful climb back down. All went fine and we arrived back in camp about 5:00pm (12 miles, 4700’, 8.5 hours). Packed up camp, had a few snacks, and made the long 5 hour drive back to Missoula. It was a fun weekend!