Member Trip report
Climbing Johnstone Peak
Trip Report/Photos from Mountainrabbit
It has been a chilly and unsettled spring. The weather forecast called for a chance of thundersnow in the afternoon, so I needed to choose a peak that I could summit and get back under dense tree cover before any bad weather hit. I chose Johnstone Peak, an easy 10,000 footer in the Pioneer Range. Johnstone is not in itself an especially notable peak, but with its position flanking the crest of the Pioneers, it is well known for its stunning views, especially of the Triumvirate, the three most beautifully sculpted mountains in the range. One of them, craggy Old Hyndman Peak, happens to be my favorite climb in Idaho.
The morning started out clear and cool. An inch of snow had dusted the high ridges overnight. As the sun rose, a steady shower of melting snow fell from the Engelmann spuces and subalpine firs. The eerie, trilling songs of Swainson's Thrushes reminded me that it was nearly summer. I followed elk trails up Johnstone's east ridge, winding among the mounds of snow that were the remnants of winter's windswept cornices. After five hours, I hit the last of the wooded terrain, and broke into the open talus slopes beneath the summit. It was an easy scramble from here to the top. To the east were the magnificent, glacier-carved peaks of the Pioneer Crest, and to the west, dark clouds were gathering. I waited as long as I dared, just to get some photos of the first of the clouds sweeping over the high peaks. A stiff wind began to howl over the summit, accompanied by a mix of sleet and snow. As I turned to descend, thunder rolled ominously.
Time to head home.
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