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Golden Mixed Route Added to Sacajawea Peak

Gold Digger (M7 WI4, 250m), on the north face of Sacajawea Peak, Lost River Range, Idaho. Locals Dean Lords and Justin Avenius had spied the previously unclimbed line numerous times. It wasn’t until June 14, however, when heading to a different project, that the excellent conditions on Gold Digger convinced them to change their itinerary. [Photo] Dean Lords

On Saturday, June 14, 2008, Dean Lords and Justin Avenius established a new route on the north face of Sacajawea Peak, Lost River Range, Idaho. The previously unclimbed route, Gold Digger (250m to the east ridge), may become a Lost River Range classic due to its striking line, relative accessibility and moderate-to-challenging mixed nature.

Central Idaho’s Lost River Range contains seven of the state’s nine 12,000′-plus mountains. Much of the range remains untouched wilderness, and numerous significant peaks remain unnamed and largely unexplored by technical climbers. However, Lords along with various other partners frequent the range, taking advantage of its “classic mixed conditions,” and had often spied the Gold Digger line.

“Until this weekend, I’ve walked past this gem with ambitions for one of the many longer potential routes on Sac’s north face. On Saturday [June 14], this slot was beaming like a vein of gold running down the north face of the Golden Pillar,” Lords said. Though they had intended to make an ascent of a different unclimbed route much farther right of the Golden Pillar, Lords explained: “It was just too good to pass up this time.”

Avenius leading the crux, Pitch 1 (M7, 45m). “At this point we had to clip off the tools and start rock climbing–Justin without much gear below,” Lords said. [Photo] Dean Lords

The first 25 meters of Gold Digger proved the most difficult, with classic M7ish moves and little room to maneuver. Lords described it as mixed climbing in a tight corner that offered superb stemming on bullet limestone, with an ice- and moss-filled crack providing “sound protection.” A series of liebacks and gastons sans tools brought Lords and Avenius to the top of the mixed climbing, providing access into a deep slot filled with water ice up to WI4 in difficulty. Reaching the east ridge, they scrambled along third-class ground to the summit of an unnamed satellite peak.

Lords added that warm temperatures probably will keep him from returning to Sacajawea Peak again this season, but that plum lines remain. And while Gold Digger is not the most demanding climb that Lords has established in the range, he described it as one of the most beautiful, preferring to grade it “M-idunnknowbutyoushouldgodoit!”

Sources: Dean Lords,