The Riddler 11,598′ – Lemhi Range
I’ve often wondered if anyone has skied the Riddler. It seems to be one of those obscure peaks, even for summer peak baggers despite stunning views of the peak from its popular neighbor, Diamond Peak. Not to say that people don’t visit the Riddlers summit, but you rarely hear of such an occurance.
It is a complex mountain with a difficult summit to obtain. Some visitors traverse from Diamond Peak and scramble to the summit of the Riddler via its teetering and chossy 4th class North Ridge. Rick Baugher reports another route on its southeast face. Mike Howard has made a solo ascent of the North Face. All require a bit more effort than its taller neighbor to the north, making for an obscured summit in the Lemhis.
Lets get back to skiing.
I find great pleasure in making the path less travelled the object of my desires. Enter the idea of skiing the Riddler. The taller and more popular neighbor, Diamond Peak, see’s the bulk of ski traffic for the Lemhis which for some reason moves it down in the list of personal projects. Wierd, i know.
Heather took the day off from school and Turbo joined in on the fun. He’s always keen to drink the cool-aid of an adventure to the unknown and Heather is on a personal journey to explore what she’s capable of doing. So, armed with an idea, we left the car at the end of Pass Creek Road and made the unexpectedly pleasant hike and skin up the broad basin separating Big Boy Peak from the Riddler.
The morning temps were cold and the snow firm. Travel was easy albeit a lengthy distance from the car to the upper basin between Big Boy and the Riddler. We plodded alongside a large amount of day old wet slide debris as we climbed steeply up the final head-wall on the southeast face. Temps were heating up and the final short stretch of steep couloir to the summit was laden with heavy soft snow over a hard crust. The warming temps and the intense solar radiation in the confines of the sun-baked couloir combined with the reactiveness of the snow prompted the prudent decision to stop just short of the summit. Already on 40+ degree slopes with boulders and cliffs below; even a small wet slide could send us into and/or over obstacles with consequences.
Eventually we ended up below tree line and continued skiing good corn snow in the lower elevations. Just over 4,000′ of continuous skiing later, we took our skis off, attached them to our packs, changed from ski boots to hiking shoes, and strolled back down the canyon to Pass Creek, and eventually the car. No thrashing, struggling, blisters, or central Idaho epics. Just a perfect spring day in the mountains with two of my best friends.
A far away snow capped Diamond Peak in the background as Heather casually walks toward Pass Creek after skiing the southeast face of the Riddler.