After flying into Boise on Tuesday evening Kristi and I made our way to Hailey in central Idaho. Kristi’s brother Danny and I had been sending messages back in forth about a Thanksgiving Day climb in the area and decided on hiking the neighboring mountain of Patterson Peak. We both needed to be back at the house by 1pm so we decided on an early 5am start.
The nice thing about this hike was we were able to walk from the front door of the house to the mountain. This is some pretty amazing access that is hard to find these days. I drank my Monster energy drink and had a couple sugar cookies for breakfast then we were off just after 5am. There was a heavy frost as we were leaving it was brrr cold, but I wasn’t sure what the temperature was. The sky was bright with stars which is one of the things I love about Hailey. After a fast quarter mile walk on the pavement we hit the trail-less foothills and started our climb.
|Early, Early Morning Light|
There are many different ways to attack the route of this mountain and we chose by starting on one of the ribs to the south of Woodside Elementary School. The steepness is pretty relentless so there really wasn’t much relief for the first 600ft of vertical climbing. It seemed like it took us a while to get up this initial section, but that was probably just because we weren’t warmed up yet. The temp was cool enough that both of us were wearing double layered pants and light down jackets. Lucky for us the wind was pretty nominal during the first sections so we weren’t chilled to the bone yet, in fact I was starting to heat up quite quickly so soon removed my down jacket layer.
I wasn’t watching the time too much but I think we gained the west ridge in the first 30-45 minutes. Once on this ridge the terrain definitely got a lot easier. At times gaining the ridge the slope felt dam near vertical like a wall, it is a steep route so gaining elevation does go quickly. There was still no sign of the sun rise so we were hoping to gain the main south ridge to catch a glimpse of the sun rising in the east. The wind started picking up so midway to the south ridge I put my down jacket back on. After a bit of trail mix and some ice cold water we completed the last couple hundred feet gaining the main south ridge.
We dropped our packs and took some pictures of the orange burnt colors of the sun rising. It was quite cold so we chose to keep moving and in the next 10 minutes the sun was fully rising over the distant mountain ranges. The view was amazing; it’s always nice to be able to fight through the cold and the dark for a sunrise. We hit snow pretty fast somewhere around the 7,700ft area. It started out light and crusty just perfect for kicking in when we needed to. There were a few points where the wind chill was pretty unbearable but we just continued to move up the ridge.
|Looking Into Hailey from Patterson's Summit|
This south ridge was definitely a roller coaster and you all know I’m not too fond of ups and downs. As we would hike to the low parts of the humps the snow would get deeper up to our knees at some points so we had to make sure to keep on the crown of the ridge. Patterson’s summit was not marked on my TOPO so we were not sure how long this coaster ride would be. Each hump looked like a mountain all to itself, and looking back I dreaded the hike back up what we were now descending. Once we got up onto the third major hump there was a rock cairn with a huge PVC pipe with a summit registry. It indicated that we were in fact on Patterson, so we were both glad to see that.
|Danny and Me on the Summit|
Our water bottles had both frozen over so it took a little work to bust through the ice. We had been on the summit for about 15 minutes and our fingers were freezing from taking photos so we knew it was probably time to start heading out. I dreaded the idea of hiking back over the humps from our ascent route so talked Danny into taking a more mellow ridge into one of the many canyons feeding into Hailey. The going went well on the snow but when changing to the rock my toes were frozen like planks so it took some time for them to re-adapt. Danny spotted about 8 or 9 deer down in the canyon and how I wished we could run down this steep hill like they can.
I was welcoming the heat as we continued to descend and before dropping completely into the canyon we had our last break. The peanut butter cups that Danny brought were amazing as was his Mt. Hood Trail mix. I took the chance to shed all my hot layers then we were off. The drop into the canyon was steep and unforgiving, but within 15-20 minutes we made it to an old 4WD road and had a simple hike out ahead of us. It took us another half hour or so to funnel out into the population of the world again then we connected with one of the local trails that follows the “Toe of the Mountain” as it was called. Just after noon we were back to the house. A 7hour 3,000+ vertical day was a great way to start Thanksgiving. My knees hurt like hell but that is no different than any other day, with any luck I will have another climb on Saturday and a new TR to soon follow.
Starting Elevation: 5,260ft
Patterson Peak Summit: 8,240ft
Total Gained Elevation: 3,020ft
Distance: 8.32 miles
Time: 5:05 moving, 2:01 stopped.
Climbing Partner: Danny