I imagine exotic landscapes looking identical to the majestic snow-capped Bell Mountain in the Lemhis and the fairytale-like panorama of the Upper Pashimeroi in the Lost River Range. For nearly two decades i’ve explored these remote Idaho mountain ranges in search of wintery climbing adventures, and more recently, skiing. Like many others, my early years of alpine life centered around the technical summer and winter climbs in the nearby Tetons.
Undoubtedly a world-famous mountain range, the Tetons have shaped the lives and skills of many climbers and skiers. Yet, after many years of wandering and climbing both famous and obscure routes throughout the range, I began to lose interest. Over time, my Teton motivation was replaced by imagination and a wild west feeling of Idaho’s Lost River and Lemhi Ranges. These two mountain ranges afforded me a feeling of pure adventure. They are mountains that inspire many, yet usually passed by except for an alternative mountain culture seeking solitude and unique terrain . Very little historical information and very little traffic compared to the Tetons; not to mention, a reputation for poor rock, no ice climbing, and bad or no snow most of the time. While many have been defeated by these variables and half-truths, they created a framework of true adventure for me. Achievement can often be hard won; leaving a good reason for others to look elsewhere for success.
Over time the secrets and mysteries of these ranges started to unfold and succeeding at an objective became possible more times than not. That’s not to say the Lemhi and Lost River ranges have given up all of their mystery and secrets. In fact, they are far from it. They are unpredictable and only the pursuit of imagination will reveal possibilities; which can mean to run away and return better prepared or when conditions are right! Or it can mean an easy success followed by several failed attempts.
So what does the future hold for me with these ranges? Well, more adventure and pursuit of mystery as I feel, even after two decades, I have yet to lose interest in what this place offers. Our small rag-tag gang of wild west gold seekers have a strong connection to the pursuit of imagination. Even though some days have been a bust, other days we’ve brought home a big nugget; more reason to go back again and again to keep pining.
As the winter season starts, my imagination starts anew. How will the snowpack evolve throughout the winter? Maybe this will be the year to ski X, Y, and Z? Or maybe it will be another year of watching, waiting, nibbling… and then we just go rock climbing come springtime! Make your predictions, but I’ve learned not to bet on what the Lemhi and Lost Rivers will provide when the spring season arrives! I will remain cynically optimistic!
Here’s to the pursuit of imagination!