Elevation: 11,280 ft
This peak is listed as Peak 11280+ in the book on page 282. At the time of the second edition, I was almost positive that the peak was unclimbed. I listed it in the book to give people a shot at a first ascent but I planned on racking up the first ascent myself. Brian Wright and I finally climbed the peak in 2003.
Triple Peak is located in the Breitenbach Corruption Divide northeast of Mount Breitenbach. It is a congregation of broken towers capping off an immense and unstable talus pile. As of 2018 fewer than ten people have reached its summit.
Key Hole Route, Class 4
The Key Hole Route begins on Breitenbach Pass which can be reached from either Dry Creek [(A)(6.1) or (6.1 alt.) Page 290] or the East Fork Pahsimeroi River [(C)(3.2)(a) page 294]. The trails shown on the map are seldom if ever maintained and thus, crosscountry travel skills will be needed to reach the pass.
A Little History
The book notes that the peak is a complicated summit located on the Mount Corruption / Breitenbach Divide. It took me four attempts to discover the secrets of the towers that make up the peak. The first attempt in 2000 was thwarted by high water which prevented us from accessing either Dry Creek or the upper Pahsimeroi and forced us to begin from Burnt Creek which was a very long approach. We ended up climbing Peak 11509 (Cleft Peak) as a consolation prize.
The second attempt in 2001 was stopped by bad weather at the base of the west tower. On the third try, also in 2001, we made the first ascent of the west tower but found that the middle tower was actually a higher point. We found that it was impossible for us to set an anchor to rappel into the notch between the two towers with the equipment we brought. While the route from the notch to the summit looked an easy walk, it was late on a Sunday and we gave up and vowed to return. The summer passed by without time to return.
In 2002, I broke my leg and there were no attempts.
Finally, on July 19, 2003 Brian and I made it to the top of the central and highest tower.
Based on our prior adventures, we decided that the best route was to climb the west tower again, set up a Rube Goldberg rappel anchor and rappel into the intervening gap and finish the climb. We took an extra rope, a bolt kit and 100 feet of sling in hopes that we could fashion a safe rappel anchor someplace on the West Tower’s rotten summit. Triple Peak is composed primarily of Challis Volcanic rock which was deposited on top of the Lost River Range’s limestone base. The rock is as rotten you can find in Idaho and the rock quality was the biggest obstacle facing us.
From Breitenbach Pass hike northeast up the ridge to the base of the west tower. Traverse east, scrambling over boulders and talus for about 150 feet to the base of a steep, slippery, debris filled gully. Climb the gully–carefully. The route crosses loose talus and hard ledges covered with lose rock. At the top of the gully, the route climbs a 12-foot-high wall which brings you to a keyhole.
Climb through the key hole. To the north and above there is an open book. This feature leads to the top of the West Tower and is a short 75-foot 5.7 climb up unstable rock. From the key hole, work across the unstable, intervening ground to the base of the open book. To the left, a ledge system above a cliff leads north along the base of the West Tower’s north face to a 25-foot-high wall of dirt and debris. The ledge looks like a dead end and we ignored the route on our earlier attempt.
While Brian was setting up an anchor to begin the climb up the open book, I stared at the ledge to the rotten wall wondering what was on the other side. Finally, I decided to take a look. Brian put me on belay and I edged across to the wall and started up. It was like climbing an overhanging road cut. Dirt and rocks streamed down around me but it was not as bad as I had imagined. When I reached the top, I found a wide ledge that traversed the remaining section of the West Tower’s north face and lead into the gap. From that point on the climb was a walk across talus and boulders.
As we reached the summit, the East Tower came into view. We could not say with certainty that we were on the highest point. We had to check with a level to be certain we had the first ascent.