ElevationAscent: 5,087' 1,551 m
Descent: -17' -5 m
High: 12,489' 3,807 m
Low: 7,412' 2,259 m
GradeAvg Grade: 25% (14°)
Max Grade: 77% (38°)
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“Run and climb to Idaho's high point on this brutally majestic trail.”— Jeff Fullmer
Warnings: Depending on the snow levels, it is recommended to do this run in late summer. Thin leather gloves are recommended for the scrambling on Chicken-Out Ridge. The rocks are sharp, but beware some hand/footholds are slick.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BYPASS Chicken-Out Ridge by taking the now way-too-established trail that drops on the west side below. Some years, the snow/ice never leaves and makes for a dangerous crossing followed by a steep climb up loose debris.
At 11,500 feet, people don't always make the best decisions on COR. It is recommended that you go with someone experienced. Plan on 7-12 hours roundtrip. Around 7 if you run when you can, closer to 10-12 hours if you hike it in only moderate shape.
This can be a BUSY run with choke points. Avoid going on August Saturdays if you don't like crowds. Absolutely no water anywhere. Most likely snow, though not on the trail in late summe
Mile 3.5 - 4 can be dangerous, as rocks can be dislodged. Stay on trail; most loose rocks are gone now. You can run most of this on the downhill, depending on your skill level and how shredded you want your quads to be.
Mile 2 is more than double the elevation, at over 2,000 feet of climbing. At about mile 2.2, you are out of the treeline and exposed the rest of the way. Mile 3 starts out fairly flat with a mild incline and then you hit the infamous Chicken-Out Ridge (COR). COR is not to be taken lightly. If people "chicken out," it is usually right at the start or at the end of this 0.25-mile section of scrambling.
If you are afraid of heights, do not attempt COR. Do not attempt to bypass COR by dropping down below it. Custer County Sheriffs department and many trail guides warn that the lower west section is where people get hurt and a few decades ago even died. As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, stay on the ridge/spine.
At the end of COR is a Class 4 scramble.There will sometimes be a climbing rope there, but it is still doable without a rope. You drop down onto a knife ridge that in early summer will be covered in snow. This can be very dangerous. There is a flat-ish section after COR, and then the final 0.5 miles is straight up to the summit. Stay on the defined trail.
After COR, you do not spend very much time on the ridge. The summit is amazing and well worth the price of entry. Record your name in the logbook, snag a picture with the summit flag in the white tube, and prepare to thrash your quads as you blaze back to the trailhead.
NOTE: The GPX track I recorded is very accurate, with any variations cleaned up. This is the traditional route. The official Forest Service trail ends at the start of COR, so after that it's the "wild west."
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