Leatherman Peak

2008-08-06
Leatherman Peak is the second tallest mountain in the state of Idaho at an elevation of 12,230 feet. During a multiple day camping excursion into the Upper Pahsimeroi, Jason and I climbed to the top of Leatherman Peak from the trail head up the West Fork of the Pahsimeroi.

Maps


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Topo: Leatherman Peak Route topo7-5

Trip Report

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Leatherman Peak is Idaho's second tallest mountain at an elevation of 12,230 feet. The peak itself is the northern part on a long ridge line that extends from Leatherman Peak over Bad Rock Mountain to Mount Church which form a nice group and can be clearly seen from highway 93. Just to the west of the peak is a high pass called Leatherman Pass in which a trail crosses the mountain range from north to south. Our climb will take us up to Leatherman Pass and then to the summit.

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Our climb from the peak will start at the trail head up the West Fork of the Pahsimeroi River. From our camp site up the East Fork we followed the 4x4 road around and up the West Fork until it ends at a trail head. There we left Archimedes and started up the trail in the direction of Leatherman Pass.

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John, Jason and I took our time approaching Leatherman Pass as the massive peak made its way into view. The pass itself has a very distinct profile and can be easily seen to help identify the locations of the peaks in the Lost Rivers. The trail for the most part was easy to follow, though as we neared the pass the fork between the trail to Pass Lake and the one over Leatherman Pass required a little work to ensure we headed in the right direction.

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Once on the pass John headed back down the trail while Jason and I headed for the summit up the west ridge. At the pass there is a clear mountaineers trail that heads to the summit and the first third of the way was easy to follow before it got into the crumbling cliffs. The route got steeper and we started finding our way though chutes between the crumbling rock, but there have been a set of cairns left to help one find their way.

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Inside the multiple chutes heading to the top it was a little difficult to follow the best one and you need to be extra careful due to the loose rock. I ended up going up a secondary steeper chute and got up into some rock that almost gave out on me. After the rock I was holding on gave way and I helped it down the peak, I backtracked and went up the other chute finding Jason next to a cairn waiting for me.

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After passing through the maze of crumbling chutes on the middle third of the climb to the peak, the last bit was straight forward to get to the summit. Once at the top we stopped and sat though an late afternoon rain storm which quickly passed. From the top we were able to use my cell phone to call a few people (but I only got answering machines, while we did get to talk to Jason's mom). Once done with our time at the summit, we noticed another route that headed down the West Fork.

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Wanting to avoid that middle section of the crumbling chutes and cliff faces we saw that if we followed the ridge to the northeast of the mountain we could make our way down a scree pile all the way to the West Fork Trail. So even though the rock was loose we felt more comfortable away from the cliff faces and made our way down the scree to the West Fork. Once off the peak we had a brisk walk back to the trail head and made it there slightly before dark.

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