Sifting through half written blog drafts from this past winter, I decided to finish up this short trip report for the sake of completeness – and to share some of my favorite pictures. Though far from a destination route, Boy Scout Falls provides an excellent moderate multi-pitch ice experience with easy access from the “Idaho side”. The flow can form as easy as WI3- or as stout as WI4 (the reported grade on Mountain Project), and can be climbed more than a few different ways.
(all photos courtesy of Connor James Photography or my Samsung S20)
Boy Scout Falls is the most “classic” moderate ice climb in Teton Canyon, and one of the few quality Teton flows accessed from Idaho. The two-ish pitch affair is located just east of the Treasure Mountain Boy Scout Camp on the lowermost north facing cliff-band beneath Treasure Bowl (USGS Peak 10,122). Approaching Boy Scout Falls is mildly treacherous and not for the thin of patience. After reaching the scout camp in excellent time via the groomed Teton Canyon nordic track (summer road), we followed the remnants of an old ski track heading southeast towards the base of Peak 10,122, east of the obvious Hanging Valley. We passed three lean-to shelters (no camping allowed) and forked hard up an overgrown and deviously steep hillside. We kept skins on until the bitter end but probably should have removed them sooner. In a heavier snow year this approach would likely be much easier, but in 2022 we’d have been better off hoofing through the dense brush. After reaching the first substantial (100+ foot) cliff band we traversed east along the base of the rock until the Boy Scout reveled its’ unmistakeable beauty to us. Its’ no Hyalite Canyon Elevator Shaft, but the ~70M terraced flow is unique for the area and should be praised for exactly what it is, a sizable and worthy climb in an zone otherwise void of full-rope-length climbs.
Having left the parking lot after a half day’s work somewhere around 2:00PM, we were naturally moving fast the entire afternoon. To achieve maximum value we climbed the short step on climber’s left (WI3) before traversing over to the main flow and setting up a screw belay above the steeper second portion. Two bolts and chains were noticed to climber’s right but were in an inconvenient location – presumably only used for rappelling. The second pitch was the meat and potatoes of the climb, and faced with brittle ice to the left (WI4?) I trended right through a series of engaging bulges with unique stances and good protection (WI3). Above, a central gully would have provided the easiest (WI2) passage to the top of the flow, but I decided to trend our line right, through a short but steep vertical curtain (WI4-). Protection on this final feature was less than inspiring, but solid sticks and a short crux validated our decision. Originally we’d planned on dropping a top-rope over the far more serious and likely “mixed” flows on climber’s left, but daylight got the best of us. A round of high fives and a quick snack as we rigged our descent ropes, two 20-25 meter rappels by way of a belay tree and the midway bolted station and a hasty descent through a darkening forest with skis over shoulders saw us to the Teton Canyon road as the sun was setting. Thankfully my lady is used to shenanigans like this by now, and in a gentle flurry of new snow Connor and I peacefully skinned the final three-some miles back to the trailhead sans headlamp.
Gripes about shrubby isothermal forests aside, Boy Scout Falls is equivalent to a three star climb in Hyalite Canyon. World class? Nope. Worthy of an early season tune-up or late season refresher? Absolutely. Given the arduous approach I will likely never return with a half-day constraint. Instead I’ll spend an entire day leading and top-roping the many variations on this surprisingly diverse flow. Underground legend holds that several traditional mixed lines with bolted anchors ascend the cliffs adjacent to Boy Scout, but with M6 as the barrier to entry I might need another whole season or three on the picks before maximizing this area.
Summer is upon us. The ice has melted and except for a few alpine missions this summer the axes will be stashed for next winter. I wouldn’t say I miss winter climbing, but I wouldn’t say I’m excited to see it go either. I’m neutral – ready for the drier and warmer days, and the beauty that comes at the hand of seasonal change. Come next November I’ll be chomping at the bit for another vertical dance with frozen water – and that’s what’s so great in living in such a diverse area as the Tetons – there’s always something to look forward to, to keep the stoke high.
As always, I would like to give a huge thank you to my supporters, Icelantic Skis and Chasing Paradise.
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Ski mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing and all other forms of mountain recreation are inherently dangerous. Should you decide to attempt anything you read about in this article, you are doing so at your own risk! This article is written to the best possible level of accuracy and detail, but we are only human – information could be presented wrong. Furthermore, conditions in the mountains are subject to change at any time. Ten Thousand Too Far and Brandon Wanthal are not liable for any actions or repercussions acted upon or suffered from the result of this article’s reading.