Scout your next climb in Idaho
Cleft Peak - (11,509') Rick Baugher

View north form the summit of Cleft. Photo by Rick Baugher

There are two 11509' peaks that boldly stand guard over Dry Creek on the backside of the Lost River Range. The one to the west, on the Breitenbach Ridge, is Cleft Peak. The top of this mountain is split. The south summit carries the 11509' unchecked spot elevation, but the north summit is probably of the same height.
In choosing a route, keep in mind this mountain is not held together very well. Its friable limestone is laced with myriad sandstone veins and is subject to crumbling. The route I selected minimized this problem and turned out to be quite scenic at the same time. From the 8000' elevation along Dry Creek head west up a side canyon. Soon you will be walled in by cliffs on either side. It feels like you've entered the bowels of the Lost River Range. Keep the faith. Continue to the top of this canyon, then north along the Great Lost Divide ridge to the Cleft summit(s).

Rock of Ages, Cleft for me
View N on 8/8/92 from Cleft's 11509' south summit. The adventure
wasn't over until visiting that north summit. I couldn't tell which one
was higher, so left cairns on both points. This scene overlooks the
geologic formation called Rock of Ages. Big Creek Peak and Lemhi Range are on the horizon. Destiny must have called me here. Early in 1992 my new Idaho license plate arrived with the number 11 509. The other 11509'- Ferguson Peak- would come later.

Cleft Peak, photo by Rick Baugher

Maximum Angle of Repose
John Wesley Powell, the renown western explorer and USGS Chief, coined the phrase 'maximum angle of repose' to explain the nature of scree slopes. The scree slope on this west side of Cleft Peak may be the most wicked in the entire Lost River Range. I have a feeling Major Powell would roll over in his grave if he saw it. View E to Cleft Peak from Little Regret Peak, 10/18/05.

Article and photos by
Rick Baugher
April 3, 2008

Photos and information by Rick Baugher

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