Boise woman conquers all 9 of Idaho’s 12,000-foot peaks in 1 year; who’s going to do it next?

Originally posted by Steve Stuebner, Sept. 13, 2012

I like to climb mountains, and I know a lot of you do, too. But I’m not a technical rock-climber. I had a really close call on the side of Mount Washington in Montana while I was in college that almost got me killed, so I’m much more comfortable bagging peaks that are doable as a walk-up or a hands-and-feet scramble.

I noticed on Facebook this summer that Irene Vogel of Boise was on a quest to climb all nine of Idaho’s 12,000-foot peaks — the highest peaks in the state — in one year. That’s something that I’ve never done, but it’s definitely something I’d like to do, so I thought I’d share her story in case it’s something you’d like to do as well.

Vogel made it a goal to climb all of Idaho’s 12ers in one year last January. She thought it would be a neat and challenging thing to do the year she turns 40. She had climbed the state’s highest peak, 12,662-foot Mt. Borah and 12,228-foot Leatherman Peak the year before, and she had gotten hooked.

Both of those climbs were challenging, she says. “It took me 16 hours to climb Leatherman from the Pahsimeroi side,” she says. “I loved it but I was totally exhausted. It was really hard.”

Two weeks ago, Vogel achieved her goal by summiting Leatherman again, this time in only 3 hours (the climbing part). Eleven of her friends went with her. Each of them brought back a rock for a cairn they built at Vogel’s home, with their name on it. “It’s been a really cool journey,” she says. “I have so much support from friends who went with me on the climbs, and support from friends and family who live here in town. It’s been a great experience.”

Sequence of her 12er ascents: 1. Diamond Peak; 2. Lost River Mountain; 3. Hyndman Peak; 4-5. Donaldson Peak and Mount Church (both can be done in one day); 6. Mount Idaho; 7. Mt. Borah; 8. Mount Breitenbach; 9. Leatherman Peak.

Easiest climb: Mt. Borah “because there’s a trail all the way to the top” and Leatherman (this year).

One of the challenges for Vogel is that she’s found that she is susceptible to altitude sickness, so she has to force herself to eat snacks on the way up the mountain and hydrate. Her favorite trail foods are trail mix, peanuts, peanut butter pretzels, fruit bars, things like that.

Why go to the top? “For me, it’s the pristine beauty of it. It’s so pretty being able to see all of the different mountain ranges in Idaho from the top.” And being at over 12,000 feet, you are on top of the world in Idaho, standing above the many 10,000-foot peaks in Central Idaho. “A lot of people think the Lost River Range is ugly, but I love the stark beauty of it.”
Cool tradition: She took a cotton American flag to the summit of each mountain, unrolling it for a photo each time. The flag comes from her grandmother. In each picture at the summit, Vogel held her flag and Vogel would show which peak she had summited in the progression, such as No. 5, No. 8 or whatever, with her fingers.

Read more about Vogel’s climbs, including her training, equipment and planning recommendations at Stueby’s Outdoor Journal.