Step by Step

A Courageous Dreamer Battles Acrophobia to Scale Idaho’s Tallest Peaks

By Alice Schenk

I’m a fan of the old saying, “Dreams always come a size too big, so we can grow into them.” And it did take me a while to grow into my dream of climbing all nine peaks in Idaho above twelve thousand feet. They include Hyndman Peak near Sun Valley, Diamond in the Lemhi Range past Mud Lake, and seven others in the Lost River Range near Mackay. Did you know Idaho ranks fourteenth in size among the states, but it would be the largest if it were ironed flat?

At 12,662 feet, Mount Borah is the monarch of the Lost River Range and the highest mountain in Idaho. My friend Randy Stone told me that when he climbed Borah with his son Calvin, they saw a guy slide off the section called Chicken-Out Ridge. A ten-stair rock stepladder on the ridge drops to a narrow saddle with a chute off to the side. The ice field in the chute was long that day, and the guy went clear to the bottom of it, hitting a shale field below. Randy estimated he was going well over 60 mph when he hit the shale, and then he flipped end-over-end. It took two days to get him out—amazingly, with relatively minor injuries.

I’m a courageous dreamer, and even after hearing that story, Mount Borah sounded like the perfect challenge to me. If Randy could climb it, I could, too. When I read a front-page newspaper story about Ed Gygli, an analyst in Pocatello for the Idaho State Police, who had made numerous treks up Mt. Borah and said he enjoyed bringing along first-timers, I thought, “I qualify.” I contacted Ed, asking if he’d guide me and a couple of friends up Borah. Wisely, I waited until he had committed to tell him I was dreadfully afraid of heights.

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