The Idaho Twelvers: Idaho Adventure

Taking to the great outdoors is indisputably one of the largest attractions for adventure seekers living in or visiting Idaho. Idaho is homes to a treasure trove of natural wonders and geographically unique destinations that draw world-renowned attention.  Though Idaho makes an exceptional place to live for those who enjoy a more casual form of recreation and that doesn't mean there are any fewer opportunities for things to do. 

If you are in search of more extreme sports, Idaho is surely going to amaze. Now for those who are seeking a heightened level of mountaineering, then Idaho is certainly home to a few destinations that may be of interest. Mountaineering, or alpinism, constitutes various elements in this intensely adventurous outdoor activity. There are several levels of mountaineering that may bring to heart just how incredible Idaho is, being home to nine very special mountain peaks and some of the most challenging in the area. Idaho is home to nine grand mountain peaks with an elevation that surpasses 12,000 feet, which have been nicknamed "The Twelvers". One of these remarkable peaks transcends into the class 3+ levels which are demanding and challenging. So nine peaks over 12,000 feet represent "The Twelvers." Let's dig a little deeper into what the mountains are like, some rules, and what people have said about the mountains peaks. 

There have been several records broken at The Twelvers one of which is the fastest time to climb all of the peaks running under 24 hrs and the other is the youngest climber in the state of Idaho to summit all nine peaks who was at that time only 6 years of age. These record holders don't change the intensiveness of the mountains and their peaks, it simply goes to show that with enough determination and time these folks were able to accomplish a climb that most wouldn't even consider.  

The '3 Golden Rules' (more like practical wisdom) to mountaineering.

1. The destination is always further than it may seem

2. The destination is always taller than it may appear

3. The trek is always harder than it may seem      

Generally speaking, most adventurers trekking up a mountain are going to follow a similar set of general guidelines to aid in increasing safety and successful outcomes. The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) takes on a big role, as it's safety commission aids in the development of safety standards for 60 worldwide manufacturers of climbing equipment.  

If you're determined to set a Speed Challenge record for The Twelvers -

Considering the climb for many is a challenge. Getting out on the dirt and facing the climb can be a whole different picture. Mastering the climb in record time, well for some, may be just what they are in search of. This surely doesn't hold true for everyone, myself included. Only recommended for highly skilled and experienced climbers, speed climbing is becoming more popular around the world. Speed climbs do have rules that will need to be followed in order to accurately record your time if that is something you are interested in having documented. Be sure to check out all the current and specific rules, as this is simply a general overview.

As a brief general overview, the Twelvers Speed Challenge consists mainly of:

1. The climber would begin their start time at the first trailhead and wouldn't stop their timer until the very end of all twelve ascents and descents at the last trailhead. This overall time would include the time to complete the entire trek to a from as well as ascending and descending all 12 peaks combined. This includes travel times between the mountains.

For example: Your time would start as soon as you depart from the very 1st peak's trailhead and would then end when you descend to the last peak's trailhead. So if you are going to complete Diamond Peak as the very first, the clock and your time would then start at the trailhead and then from there continues as you make your ascent and climb that peak, including the drive to the Lost River Mountain Range, make your way through them, as well as the drive to over to the Hyndman Peak, and then would end as soon as you touch your vehicle (if you brought one - you get the idea) at the Hyndman trailhead after having climbed that peak (making that your last descent in the stretch of ever one of the peaks).

2. Once you've started your time at the start of the first trailhead at any of the Twelvers, you simply are not allowed to use motorized vehicles once you leave the given trailhead. That means, no motorized means of travel may occur once you depart the given trailhead for each peak. No helicopters to fly you to the top or back down, no bikes to get you to the base of the mountain faster and though no matter how much fun it may be downhill mountain biking is also a no-go. 

3. YES, you may traverse. If you have the ability, and it makes sense for you, you may go from the Leatherman area across to Donaldson along the ridgeline, if you choose. 

4. Though it would be nice to have help, you have to carry your equipment, even if someone is climbing with you.  

5. Once back at the trailhead, after complete ascent and descent, then you are allowed to have someone drive you the distance between each of the peaks and cook you a meal. Nothing that would make for or provide for an unfair (not following the rules, not behaving according to the principles of equality) advantage is allowed.  

Again, as this is a general overview, be sure to check the most recent regulations so you know you are on top of all that needs to happen in order for your time to count. The last thing you would want to have happen is to complete the trek and find out that it doesn't count because you unknowingly did something to discredit your time.

Currently, the speed record for the Twelvers is held by Cody Lind who completed this record not too long ago on July 14, 2018. Cody completed the Twelvers challenge in an astounding 20 hours and 23 minutes, cutting off over 8 hours of time between his record and the fastest time prior to that of 1 day, four hours, and 18 minutes that was held by Luke Nelson and Jared Campbell. Frankly, these times are incredible no matter the placement. 

Overview of the Classes for Free Climbing 

The Twelvers Speed Challenge may not be for you, though you may have additional interest in the peaks themselves. The Twelvers consist of seven peaks the lying within the Lost River Range and one peak in the Lemhi Range and one last peak sitting in the Pioneer Range, for a total of 9 peaks. Below is a breakdown of some of the features in each of the classes. 

The climbing class grading system is geared to help climbers get an idea of what will be required while in action. Let's go over a generalized overview of each of the classes.

As this is a summary, be sure to check the most recent guidelines for the complete climbing rating system that outline the specifics for each class.

Class Overview:

Class 1: This is where hiking presents itself in action.

Class 2: This is where simple scrambling presents itself and the possible periodic use of hands would present itself in the action.

Class 3: This is where scrambling presents itself into the action as well as a rope may possibly be carried.

Class 4: This is where simple climbing and often with exposure will come into the action and a rope is frequently utilized. Any fall on a Class four rock has the potential to be fatal. Also, generally, natural protection can be located easily.

Class 5: This is where the core of rock climbing begins in earnest and the climbing includes the utilization of rope, as well as belaying, & protection (natural/artificial) in order to protect the leader, and to lessen the overall risk, to keep them from a lengthy fall.

The fifth-class has been further defined by a decimal & letter system: where earnest rock climbing begins. In the fifth-class, climbing involves the use of a rope, in addition to belaying, and protection (natural or artificial) to protect the leader from a long fall. The fifth-class is furthermore defined by a decimal & letter system in increasing & difficulty.

These ratings will range from the number scale of 5.10 - 5.15 and are then subdivided into letter categories a, b, c & d levels to define the level(s) of difficulty with more punctilious accuracy.

For example, findings may be presented as 5.9a or 5.10b/c.

5.0 - 5.7: This level may be easygoing for experienced climbers. This is where most, though not necessarily all, novices may begin. 

5.8 - 5.9: This is where the majority, though not necessarily all, 'weekend' climbers may become comfortable and employs the specific skillsets of rock climbing like jamming, as well as liebacks, & you guessed it... mantels. 

5.10: This is where a dedicated weekend climber may attain this level or degree of complexity. 

5.11 - 5.15:  This is where the land of true experts takes action and demands much and likely arduous training as well as natural ability & often repeated working of the sought after route. 

Again this is simply an overview, you will want to be sure to check the most recent guidelines for the climbing rating system that outlines the detailed specifics for each class. 

Alpine Climbing has a class system of its own. Internationally,  also well known is the French Alpine Rating System. 

The Nine Peaks

Any terrain has the potential to change and rapidly especially when the weather is involved, prior to any activity within a range, always be sure to check out the latest class reportings, as well as due diligence, stay informed on any changes within each of the ranges. i.e. wildlife sightings, rock slides, mudslides, avalanches and the countless other changes and happenings that may occur or have the potential to occur. Making safety a priority and getting informed makes for a great start.

Mount Borah  

Mount Borah holds the title for the tallest peak in Idaho coming in at a sheer 12,662 feet, making it one of the most well-known peaks in the state. Mount Borah sits as part of the incredible Lost River Mountain Range which is comprised of some of the most intense mountains boasting a mixture of contorted rock, large high angled faces, and various degrees of tectonic deformation, and drops that would make most people squeamish or at the very least reconsider before or for some even while in route. One of the most famous drops has been deemed with the title of "Chicken Out Ridge," with good reason, as many who make it to this ridge come to the quick realization, that for them, it's better to turn around then to proceed. Simply getting far enough to find out why it's called Chicken Out Ridge seems like quite the accomplishment. For those of you who would rather not go there in person, there are always video posts and photos available online to get a better idea of what this ridge is like without having to invest the time and effort into trekking up a mountain. 

There are multiple Class designations for Mount Borah as there are various routes that may be taken. It's been reported that the classes may range from Class 3 - Class 5, in addition to class 5 the face featuring a number of grade II. Depending on the route that is taken and level of experience, this mountain has the ability to be somewhat of an easier climb or more challenging, to extremely difficult. 

Leatherman Peak 

Leatherman Peak sits as part of the Lost River Mountain Range and is the second-tallest peak in Idaho. This dramatic peak that juts up towards the sky in an incredible display reaching upwards a total of 12,228 feet. Leatherman peaks' marvelous presentation is simply awe-inspiring with astonishing displays of twisted rock. Leatherman Peak has been reported to boast a few Class 3 routes. 

Mount Church

Mount Church sits in the Lost River Mountain Range and holds the title as the state's third-tallest peak at a grand 12,200 feet. Depending on the route taken ascents have been described as rugged and unstable, and have been reported to range from Class 3 - Class 4.

Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak is located in the Lemhi Range and is the state's fourth-tallest peak and the only twelver in the Lost River Range. Rising to 12,197 feet, Diamond Peak boasts ranges that have been reported to vary from Class 3 - Class 4 with quite a bit of Class 4 terrain.  

Mount Breitenbach

Mount Breitenbach sits in the Lost River Mountain Range with a 12,140-foot peak and is Idaho's fifth-tallest summit. It's all up to personal preference, though Mount Breitenbach surely competes for one of the most stunning north faces in the Lost River Range. It makes for a great photography opportunity, especially for those who'd rather enjoy the scenic views from the valley. Mount Breitenbach has designations that have been reported within Class 3.

Lost River Peak

Lost River Mountain is located in the Lost River Mountain Range and is home to the Lost River Peak sitting at an elevation of 12,078 feet and holds the title as Idaho's sixth-tallest peak. One route on the ascent to the peak is named "Super Gully" and begs the necessity for helmets as rocks falling are common along this route. That's just the beginning of this extraordinary and extremely challenging ascent that begs much attention to its Class 3 - Class 5 reportings.     

Mount Idaho

Mount Idaho is located in the at a breathtaking 12,065 feet within the Lost River Mountain Range and is home to Miriam Lake. Mount Idaho has various routes that report running in the ranges of Class 3 - 5.9-10a,b/c. 

Donaldson Peak

Donaldson Peak is located in the Lost River Mountain Range sitting at an elevation of 12,023 feet and is Idaho's eighth-tallest peak. Donaldson Peak has routes that have been reported to run in the range of Class 3.

Hyndman Peak

Hyndman Peak is located in the Pioneer Mountain Range and is boasts an elevation of 12,009 feet and the title of Idaho's ninth-tallest peak. Hyndman Peak is reported to run routes in the range of class 2. 

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