Mount Borah - Idaho's Highest Mountain

North Face of Mount Borah
The North Face of Mount Borah from Rock Creek

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Geographical Information

Elevation: 12,662
State: Idaho
County: Custer
Mountain Range: Lost River
Latitude: 44.137ºN
Longitude: 113.779ºW

Historical Information

Named After: William Borah, Idaho senator nicknamed the "Lion"
First Ascent: T.M. Bannon (USGS Surveyor) in 1912
Alternative Names: Mount Borah, Beauty Peak
Fastest Ascent: Luke Nelson, October 22nd 2010 - Car to summit in 1:26:42 and roundtrip in 2:21:11

Route Information

Popular Routes: Southwest Ridge (most common), North Face
Southwest Ridge Mileage: 7 miles round trip
Southwest Ridge Elevation Gain: 5,500 feet
Southwest Ridge Class: 3

 Click here for a topo map of Borah Peak, with the route drawn on it.
 Here's a link to Borah Peak on a topo map.

Getting There

Directions: From Arco drive approximatley 45 miles north on US 93. Turn east on Birch Springs Road at the sign for Borah Peak access and drive to its end. At about 3.5 miles the road turns and runs along the earthquake fault of 1983. It then passes through a patch of quaking aspens and emerges at the parking lot. There are several campsites near the trailhead, a lot of parking, and a bathroom.

Trailhead Facilities

Camping Units: 5
Toilets: 1 (Careful here, there was no tp the last time I visited!)
Fee: None
Water: None
Elevation: 7,200 feet
Season: May through November

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the prime season to climb the standard route on Borah Peak?
July 15th - September 15th

2. Do I need an ice axe and crampons?
When climbing Borah during seasons other than those listed, yes. Even during the months listed, an axe may be required on the snow crossing. During my ascent, there was snow on the ridge crossing, but it was beaten down into a 3-4 foot wide, 3 foot deep trail... no risk during crossing at all.

3. I've heard so much about "Chicken Out Ridge", do you have any suggestions when climbing it?
I can't stress enough to stay on the ridge. Most people get in trouble by trying to bypass the ridge on one side or the other.

4. What kind of footwear will I need to wear?
I wore my full leather boots, which were very handy on the loose stuff, but I felt their weight at the end of the day. A friend of mine has climbed the peak in trail running shoes and had no problems.

Have a Borah Question, click on one of the links below to have it answered:
 Idaho Outdoors Forum
 Ask Me

Contact Information

Lost River Ranger District
716 W Custer
P.O. Box 507
Mackay, Idaho 83251
Phone: (208) 588-3400
Fax: (208) 588-2924

North Face Routes

Here is a photo showing numerous technical climbing routes on the north face of Mount Borah:
North Face Mount Borah Routes
Photo credit: Me; Bob Boyles is credited with adding the routes - Click on image for full-size photo

Climbers on the north face of Borah Peak:
Photo credit: Dean Lords - Click on image for full-size photo

Borah Fatalities

According to the forest service, 3 people have died while climbing Borah's slopes.
  • An avalanche claimed the lives of 2 climbers in November of 1977. Read Mike Howard's write-up on the incident.
  • In 1987 Dave Probst was killed on a decent from Borah down Rock Creek. He had just proposed to his girlfriend on the summit, so they were not married. They decided to head down Rock Creek between the summit and the false summit. He was unable to stop his glissade down the series of snow fields there and ended up trapped in the gap between the third snow field and the rock face. Snow that sloughed off in his fall buried him.

    (This information was provided by Paul Wolters who was a member of Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue, along with Dave, at the time of Dave's death.


Click on pictures for the larger version
Borah Peak from North Chilly Butte
Borah viewed from Dickey Peak (northwest)
Borah during winter
Mount Borah from Arentson Gulch
Borah viewed from the valley floor
The view from the top of Borah
Sign at the trailhead
Sign on US 93 near the turnoff to the trailhead

1983 Earthquake

In 1983, an earthquake occured near the base of Borah Peak. The peak registered 7.3 on the richter scale. The earthquake raised Borah Peak 7 feet. The scarp is still visible along the western side of the peak and is crossed on the drive into the trailhead.

Here is a sign near Borah that explains the earthquake:

Click for larger image

Summary of Borah Quake


Current Weather (Link to forecast)

Click here for the pin point forecast for Mount Borah

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