Steel Mountain from the south ridge of West Warrior Peak.
Trip Report (4/5/2004):
While studying maps, I noticed that West Warrior Peak was reasonably close to a winter accessible road (Middle Fork Road). I then measured the route and noticed it was doable, 8 miles roundtrip, with a 4500-foot gain.
Based on that information, I started planning on an ascent. With the temparatures being so high of late, I decided to hit it during the full moon of the first weekend in April. I talked to several people, but couldn't get anyone to go for reasons from "I'm training for Robie" to "4500 feet of gain now... yeah right!". Finally, Brian Orth and his wife Toni emailed me that they would like to tag along.
On Sunday morning, after Brian and Toni had gotten their breakfast at Jack in the Box, we left Boise for Atlanta at around 4 AM. What I thought was a 1.5 hour drive took 2 hours. We finally left the trailhead around 0615. We headed out quickly, ascending 1700 feet in the first hour. Our rate of ascent then slowed, as we were a bit chatty and took a couple of long breaks. Brian had warned me that Toni was a fast hiker, and as we neared the summit, she pulled away from us. I'm not sure if Brian and I slowed, or she sped up.
Like the rest of the day had been, the top was warm and wind-free. We were blessed with views of Steel, the Sawtooths, small snowslides in the cirque below us, and canyons all around that ascended quickly to snow-covered summits. The Rakers in the Sawtooths were impressive, especially when viewed through binoculars.
The descent was a bit of a pain, as the snow was slick and stopping on steep stuff before running into trees was a challenge. I left my snowshoes on until 6800 feet, but the others took their's off a bit higher up.
All in all, it was a nice day, with good company. Oh what a feeling to be sore after a hike again... summer nears!
Time: 7.5 hours (4 hours and 30 minutes up, 30 minutes on top, 2 hours and 30 minutes down)
Length: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 4900 feet (cumulative)
Class (difficulty): 2
Follow the Middle Fork Road about 55 miles from Idaho 21 (about 13 miles short of Atlanta). The hike starts 1.5 miles past Weatherby landing strip, where the road crosses Stepp Creek. Park off the side of the road.
From the road, follow the ridge heading northwest to Points 6170 and 6795. This ridge is steep, but open and free of obstacles... just go up.
From Point 6795, the ridge drops a bit and then heads northeasterly towards Point 8246. This ridge is more challenging, as it is thin and rocky in spots and overgrown with brush in others (do it with snow on the ground!).
From Point 8246, head due north to a saddle between that point and West Warrior, then climb the remaining 900 feet on a wide ridge to the summit. The summit is a large ridge, with a preciptous drop on the east side down to the Warrior Lakes.
Pictures: Click on the pictures below to see the full-size version.
Steel Mountain from Point 6170.
Brian gazing off to the east.
The ridge we used down low.
Cornice on the summit ridge.
Small slides below the summit ridge.
One of the Warrior Lakes.
The Sawtooth Range... the Rakers are visible.
Swanholm Peak, look closely for the lookout.
Bald Mountain from the summit.
East Warrior Peak (the close, twin summited peak).