Mount Brietenbach is found on pages 278, 280 and 281. Also see Wes Collin’s article on The Lost River Traverse in the Climbing Hisotry section.
Mount Brietenbach is Idaho’s fifth highest summit. Its a toss up between this 12er and Mount Borah on which peak possesses the most impressive north face. While Borah’s north face hands on to its snow and ice and is more often climbed, in my opinion Brietenbach wins the north faced competition. Lower down on this page you can reviews photos documenting the first ascent of this great face. There is a lot of information on this page so just keep scrolling down.
Mount Breitenbach from the west. The drainage in the center of this Photo is Pete Creek.
South Ridge Route via Pete Creek.
The south ridge route described in the book has better hooting than you might think from viewing the following photographs. Still, there is enough talus to make it an arduous climb when the snow is completely gone.
The hike starts out by ascending the Pete Creek drainage. Larry Prescott Photo
Mount Brietenbach is most often climbed via its south ridge. The approach up Pete Creek is straight forward and gives relatively quick access to the rubble covered slope that leads to the ridge.
Approaching the ridge crest.
Looking down Pete Creek from the saddle on the peak’s south ridge. Larry Prescott Photo
Looking from the saddle to the summit. No Regret Peak is the peak farther along the ridge. Larry Prescott Photo
I have only descended this route and while it is not to difficult technically, the rotten rock and long walk up Jones creek make it much harder than the South Ridge Route.
The west face of Mount Brietenbach viewed from the upper reaches of Jones Creek.
Two climbers descending the lower face. There a number of cliffs to skirt around on this route and enough lose rock to trip any climber up.
The actual crux may a series of cliffs lower down in Jones Creek. I’ve ascended Jones Creek three time. It is constantly changing terrain full of ruble.
The North Face–First ascent.
Bob Boyles provided the following information outlining his team’s first ascent of the peak’s north face.
North Face Route/North East Ridge
Route PhotoFrom the 1983 American Alpine Journal (Idaho)
Mount Breitenbach, North Face, Lost River Range. From July 13 to 16, Bob Boyles, Mike Weber and I made the first ascent of the north face of Mount Breitenbach. Bill March had told me that some years ago his party was turned back by very severe rock climbing at the top of a large couloir. We easily identified the couloir and rock band. We also discovered a possible route to the west of that couloir but still east of the summit. We pieced our climb together. It consisted of small, steep snowfields intermixed with steep limestone. The crux was a short
aid pitch next to a waterfall which led us into a 900-foot-long, 10 to 15 foot wide hairline couloir that we followed to a bivouac on the skyline just east ofthe summit. In the dawn we descended the east-northeast ridge in two hours of fourth-class climbing. (Grade III, 5.8, A2.)
Curtis Olson, Mountain Guides Inc., Boise, Idaho
On the second ascent of this route Duane Monte and Kevin Sweigert bypassed the aid on the overhanging waterfall (A2) by using a free variation to the east (5.8).
The photos set out below show the first ascent route and selected shots along the way. Thanks to Bob Boyles for supplying these historic photos.
The first ascent line. Bob Boyles Photo.
Bob and Mike at the limestone stack at the start of the technical climbing on the north face of Mt Breitenbach. Amazingly, this stack appears to have survived the 1983 magnitude 6.9 earthquake totally intact. (Photo by Curt Olson) First ascent of the North Face Breitenbach. Bob Boyles’ collection.
Mike on the rock band pitch between the two hanging snow fields. All three of us rated this pitch as a dicey 5.8 and from this point on retreat is not a very good option. (Photo by Curt Olson) Bob Boyles Collection
Mike on the traverse to the waterfall pitch that leads to the chockstone couloir. (Photo by Curt Olson) First ascent of the North Face Breitenbach. Bob Boyles Collection
Mike topping out at the marginal belay spot. Curt had 7 pieces of pro that consisted of copperheads, #1 and #2 stoppers strung together with equal tension slings on this belay. I clipped in and didn’t look at the anchors again until Mike finished this pitch. Faith be with us. (Photo by Curt Olson) First ascent of the North Face Breitenbach. Bob Boyles Collection