The Seven Devils are a group of rugged mountain peaks located between the Snake River and the Rapid River. The peaks top out at an elevation of 9400 feet and drop steeply into Hells Canyon to an elevation around 1000 feet. Though not the highest of peeks in terms of elevation, there is no lack of relief and steep rocky crags to climb around. The access to the peaks is from Windy Saddle located at the North East corner of the area. Windy Saddle is reachable by a well maintained dirt road and provides a nice access to the numerous high mountain lakes and the peaks.
Naming of the Seven Devils comes from Native American lore. The story tells of a young brave who went out hunting and became lost. As he began his adventure to make it back to his tribe he ran across a Devil and fled from it. He soon found himself in the presence of another Devil and fled from this one as well. The story continues on and tells of 'Seven Devils' this young brave met and escaped from before returning to his tribe to tell them of his adventure. The name was then applied to the area and the mountains themselves were named with the same devilish theme.
Our adventure in the area was self proclaimed the Seven Devils in Seven Days, in which we conquered Seven Devils, a Goblin and an Ogre. Though unsure of what awaited us at the beginning of this adventure we came out of the area better men. And thus it is best to recount this adventure on a day by day basis.
Jason arrived at my house in Boise a little before noon as I was slowly putting together my pack for the trip. As is usual with our motion the day had a time of its own and after a few stops in town for some last minuet shopping and double checking all of our gear was with us, I threw my bags into Jason's Jeep and off we went. We left town awfully late and finally made it to Windy Saddle as the sun was setting. Though perfect timing the full moon was out to light our way. Not wanting to camp near the vehicle we decided to head into the mountains that night. So after an hour or so finalizing our packs, we heaved them onto our backs and off we went, entering into the Seven Devils in the dark of night.
This days route was a few mile climb over Goats Pass, an unmarked but well known trail, to Sheep Lake. We had little trouble finding the path in the moon light and soon found ourselves walking up this steep path to a saddle above Mirror Lake. From there the path side hilled to the saddle between Mirror Lake and Sheep Lake. We then descended along this great path which followed numerous ledges as it made its way to Sheep Lake. We walked around towards the outlet of Sheep Lake and found ourselves a nice camping spot.
We slept in a bit this day after spending most the night climbing into Sheep Lake the night before. We woke into a world that covered in smoke from the fires that were burning up the forests on what seemed to us on all sides. Though we knew there was little danger, it was still an eerie feeling to have limited visibility due to a dark gray haze of smoke filling the mountains. These theme was fitting though, we were in the heart of the Seven Devils with grand plans to defeat them and it was dark and hazy. Our adventure has just started.
After a good breakfast we spent this day on the Devils. This was a day in which we topped the first three Devils. The first Devil was the Tower of Babel. Our little guide to possible routes told that this mountain was named by Marshal because of the climb he took. This climb is now refereed to as the Marshal's Ledges Route. From what little description we had was we could find a serious of ledges that would circle us around the mountain itself. Apparently the ledges reminded Marshal of the circling staircases on an image he saw of the Tower of Babel and named the mountain after that.
Though not exactly sure what to expect we started up to the face of the Tower of Babel. After a bit of negotiation with the mountain itself we found what we believed to be the start of the Marshal Ledges Route. Sure enough we found a series of ledges that angled up the mountain and circled us up to the ridge line. From there we scrambled up the ridge a bit and then continued to follow the ledges around the back side of the mountain. From there almost near the top we scrambled up the ridge to the top of the peak. This climb was great, and the ledges were defiantly the way to go, and once you found them you sure could see why Marshal would of named it the Tower of Babel.
Onward from the Tower, we made our way back down along the ridge and headed towards She Devil. The climb down the ridge and then to begin up She Devil was fairly straight forward. Along the way we passed near the base of Devil number two for our adventure and took a small detour to climb to its top. From the top of Mount Baal we ate a nice snack and enjoyed the ever evolving view of the rugged mountains we were in the middle of.
We then continued our climb back down to the ridge from Mount Baal and made our way to the top of She Devil. By the time we topped She Devil it was getting late, so we spent a little time there but continued our loop and began to make our way down the peak back to camp. After a long day we made it back to camp as darkness engulfed the mountains. A long and hard day, but three Devils were defeated.
It was time to move camp to give us access to the remaining Devils. Our plan was to follow the trail from Sheep Lake over the ridge and head down into one of the lakes on the other side. We also wanted to take enough time to top He Devil as we moved camp. Our approach to He Devil was going to be from the saddle in which our tail passed. So we ate yet another grand breakfast, packed up our camp and hit the trail.
From the ridge, we stashed our packs out of site under some trees, pulled out our day packs and started up He Devil. The climb of He Devil (the tallest of the Devils) was fairly straight forward. We followed the ridge from the saddle to the base of the peak. From there we side hilled around crossing a huge boulder field and scrambled up to the north west ridge. We then followed the ridge all the way to its summit.
Before we left our packs we ran across some boy scouts and their scout master. They told us a large camp they had at Basin Lake. When we got back to our packs we had enough time to move a fair distance and decided we would leave the valley of lakes below us to the scouts and check out Hibbs Cow Camp which looked to have a nice spring next to it. We followed the trail and made it to Hibbs Cow Camp just slightly before dark.
Hibbs Cow Camp was a great camp. There was a running spring with fresh water that was easy to fetch and remnants of a well used camp. In the middle of the camp was a brick fireplace built that we used to cook food on that night. This camp ended up being one of my favorites. Lots of remnants of lots of use in times past, a good spring near by and best of all we had it to ourselves as most the people were up at the lakes.
This was our day of rest. We had a nice relaxing day as we moved camp from the Hibbs Cow Camp to Basin Lake. After getting to Basin Lake we spent the day enjoying the lake. Jason tried his luck with fishing (though luck was not on his side) and we just rested, took naps and recovered from the last two days of Devil climbing. After a restful day we cooked up a full meal and enjoyed the remaining moonlight, which was getting less and less as the moon was slowly waining on our trip.
It was another day of Devil climbing as we headed out and climbed our fifth and sixth devil. From Baldy Lake we headed up towards the Twin Imps. Now unfortunately the North Imp was out of our league (a class 5 peak) we were able to climb the Southern Imp. We did this by first heading up to the west ridge. From there we followed the ridge up to a peak called Consolation Imp by fellow climbers in the Devil's Throne ledger. From there we scrabbled around to the narrow notch between the two Imps. From this point you are able to do a class 3 scrabble to the top of the Southern Imp and back.
After climbing the South Imp is where this days of climb got a bit hairy. It was a lot of class 3-4 scrambling as we made our way down and around the North Imp to give us access to the Devils Throne. After finding our individual routes Jason and I met up on the saddle between the Twin Imps and The Devils Throne. From there we had an easy scramble to the top of the Throne and then made our way back down to camp.
The most memorable thing about the Devils Throne was reading its ledger. First off the ledger atop the devils throne was one of the original ledges left by the Mazama Climbing Club from Portland Oregon. The other interesting thing was seeing where it had been struck by lighting and had melted a hole in the metal container and burnt a hole though a few of the back pages. Besides for that we got to read a story of two brothers (56 and 64) who had climbed the mountain (and many more) in the area. All I could think of was hoping that when I'm 65 I can still make it the top of those peaks. Congrats and good work to those two brothers.
The days of trails were behind us. Though we spent a lot of time on top of the peaks without trails, we followed them when we had our packs on. This was no more, for today our path was cross country. Instead of following the main 'loop' around the southern part of the peaks we decided to take a short cut and head over some saddles with no trail. This took a bit of time and mental stamina but we made it.
The highest saddle we had to pass was on the back side of Mount Belial, and which then became Devil number Seven. We dropped our packs atop the saddle and continued on a short climb across the tree summits of Belial to the third and tallest one. After the short climb, the packs were back on and we continued our cross country route to Upper Canon Lake.
The seventh and final day of our journey was upon us. Though we had defeated our Seven Devils our trip was far from done. This day we had to take out a Goblin and an Ogre. We started up the Goblin and on our way up ran across one of the biggest mountain goats I have seen. This goat was an awesome feature of nature. Not only are mountain goats great mountain climbers and very nimble, they are extremely strong. The size of this goat was amazing as this large almost pure mussel creature could climb in areas I would not think about. His strength and agility allows him live in an area few creatures dare to venture. And yet here I was looking down upon this magnificent creature.
After watching our friend the Goat move up to a shady part on the hill and take a nap we continue our way up the Goblin. We made it to the top of the Goblin and then headed back down into the Hanson Lakes. These lakes were amazing and had all the features I love in high mountain lakes. They were surrounded by large rock cliffs on all sides yet there were serene and quiet in their valley. Not only were these some of the most serene lakes in the whole area, due to their difficulty to get to they had no other human residents unlike all the other lakes we passed. Jason and I both agreed that when we return to the Seven Devils, we will seek out our camp at Hanson Lakes.
The Ogre was our final and last climb. From Hanson Lakes we headed up the back side of the Ogre and made it to its summit. Atop of the Ogre we could see the sun begging to set in the west as we also gazed towards Windy Saddle. At this moment we decided our adventure in the Seven Devils was near its end. Instead of waiting until the next morning to find our way out, we decided to make on last adventurous trek and end our trip in an epic fassion.
Slightly before dark we made it back to our camp at Upper Cannon Lake. We quickly packed up our bags and put them on our back. We were heading out, but we were going cross country. From Upper Cannon Lake we side hilled down and around the ridges. We made it to the first ridge just as it was getting to dark to see, and with no moon light we had to trust our sense of direction and head lamps to make it home. After going down and around a few more ridges and valleys than expected our sense of direction did not fail us, and we made it to the trail we expected to hit. At this point we followed the trail the remaining mile or two back to the trail head. As we throw our bags into Jason's Jeep and sit our tired bodies down we begin our drive home, our seven day adventure in the Seven Devils has come to its end.
- Black: The main loop we created taken with our full packs
- Red: The climbs with only our day packs
- A: Sheep Lake Camp
- B: Hibbs Cow Camp
- C: Baldy Lake Camp
- D: Upper Cannon Lake Camp
- 1: Tower of Babel
- 2: Mount Baal
- 3: She Devil
- 4: He Devil
- 5: Twin Imps South
- 6: Devil's Throne
- 7: Mount Belial
- 8: The Goblin
- 9: The Ogre
|©Jaimos F Skriletz 2004-2018.|