Scout your next climb in Idaho
Mount Starter (9,531') Rick Baugher

SW side of Mt Stater, photo by Rick Baugher.

Mount Starter

Suppose you have an active, adventure minded middle schooler. Assume also that you've had some experience in the great outdoors. Here's a wonderful peak, and well suited as an introduction to Idaho mountaineering for your energetic child/ grandchild. 'Mount Starter' el 9531' (prominence 351') in the Boulder Mountains is due north of the Phi Kappa campground in Challis National Forest. This trailless hike/ climb of 2000' vertical is less than 4 miles round trip via its southwest ridge. The out and back route starts where Big Fall Creek crosses Trail Creek Road. Use the Phi Kappa Mtn topo map.

View of the SW side of Mt Starter from Trail Creek Road. The minor obstacles on this lower part of the mountain include a granite ridge face, then a dacite cliff best passed on the right. Of course there is the standard fare for Idaho mountains in this area- loose talus and scree. After this, it's a pleasant and scenic ridge walk among Douglas Fir, then some whitebark pine.

Near the summit of Mt Starter, photo by Rick Baugher.

At 9300', almost near the top, and now at treeline, is this andesite rooster comb. If your protege is game, climb across it. Mountaineers would rate the difficulty here at class 3+. Otherwise, just skirt the base of this outcrop.

View from Mt Starter, photo by Rick Baugher.

The panorama from the top offers impressive views of four mountain ranges (Boulder, Pioneer, White Knob, Lost River). The summit cairns, placed by prospectors, appear to be 50 or more years old. Like most Idaho mountains, this one doesn't have a name on the map. If your youngster's spirit has been kindled, then the mountain is well named.

Color high on the mountain, photo by Rick Baugher.

Among the andesite and slate high on the mountain, prospectors were looking for color, something that would indicate the presence of copper and gold.

Mystery Peak, photo by Rick Baugher.

For the lover of mountain summits, however, the El Dorado is the nearby 10785' Central Idaho Nipple or Mystery Peak. This view NW from Mount Starter shows the zig zag south face route to the top of this impressive peak. Do your practice on a few more starters and before you know it you will be solving these kinds of mysteries.

DISCLAIMER: My assessment of the mountain world may not be in accord with your interests or abilities. In fact, mountains can be dangerous. Please rely on your own best judgement, not mine. In any event, strive for fun. Don't be like the young woman who spent 14 hours on Borah Peak. Totally spent, she refused to go up or down, and finally had to be carried off the mountain. Two things she never wants to see again- an Idaho mountain, and the 'boyfriend' who coaxed her to try Borah.


Rick Baugher
All photos from a 4 hour outing
on Oct 17, 2009

Photos and information by Rick Baugher

Email me your route descriptions and pictures to

© 2009
Email the webmaster