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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    TR: Seven Devils Mountains (a short jaunt)

    This was by no means a significant trip but since there is precisely zero information about skiing in these mountains I thought I'd throw this up as beta.

    The Seven Devils are a compact range which rises 8,000 vertical feet above the town of Riggins, Idaho. The tops of the peaks are on the edge of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and are sandwiched between the Snake and the Salmon; the topography in this part of Idaho is hard to understand for me -- it's complex, and the 180 or so miles from Lolo Pass to Riggins has just a few miles of straight roads. Despite the vertical rise the range is almost impossible to see from anywhere in Idaho -- you get a few short glimpses from U.S. 95. The high terrain is peppered with lakes and one sizeable permanent snowfield.

    Put in a decent day in the home office on Monday and left Missoula around 4. Gassed up in Lolo, made the crazy drive along the Clearwater, and got more gas in Grangeville. Riggins was busy with river traffic; found Seven Devils road and headed uphill. I had called the ranger in Riggins earlier in the day and got surprisingly accurate information; the road is 17.5 miles long and encounters snow at roughly mile 13. The road is ridiculously steep; the first 5 miles are paved.

    20180604_200824 by redpinecanyon, on Flickr

    Some people had driven through the snow but I did not feel like it. Backtracked to a flat spot, made dinner, and slept in the back of the truck.

    Up at 5 to breaking fog. Making brekkie and a dapper-looking gentleman pulls up in a Nissan Murano; the looks at the snowbank and turns around. Load gear onto my bike and start pedaling. Besides snowdrifts the road is in nice shape and pedal 4 miles to Windy Gap in about 30 minutes.

    20180605_072110 by redpinecanyon, on Flickr

    20180605_074149 by redpinecanyon, on Flickr

    No one has been up here in a while though an ATV could prolly make it.

    20180605_080448 by redpinecanyon, on Flickr

    Got decent cell and 4G up here and also radio stations from Boise (traffic this morning on 84).

    Found much less snowcover than I had been expecting. Also found plenty of difficult terrain for skiing -- shallow basins backed by steep narrow lines, with little in between. Arrive at Seven Devils lake and find that navigating up and over the mountains toward Mirror Lake and to Sheep Lake is going to be more complex than I want to get into.

    20180605_110553 by redpinecanyon, on Flickr

    Was prepared with crampons and ice axe but the narrow chute above was 3 feet wide and around 45 degrees -- to narrow for me to ski and too steep to feel comfortable downclimbing.

    Hung out for a while and waited for the snow to soften.

    20180605_091539 by redpinecanyon, on Flickr

    Look back toward Windy Gap.

    20180605_105928 by redpinecanyon, on Flickr

    That's it -- nothing massive. Cool range but tricky skiing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Missoula, MT
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    19,523
    Oh, so that's what you have been working on! Fuckin nice.
    No longer stuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Just an uneducated guess.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2008
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    Cool, any trails look good for mtb or is it all wilderness?

  4. #4
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    Sep 2009
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    Nice. I've been curious about this mountain range for years. The core of the range is within the Hell's Canyon Wilderness.

    It'd be cool to do a key exchange through-hike between Windy Saddle and Black Lake. Or maybe a huge day hike to the top from the Snake... back down to resume the Hell's Canyon float. Big vert fo sho
    PE, Mechanical Engineering

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Before
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    18,818
    I've looked over at that range from the Wallowas and wondered what it was like.

    Never made it past the Wallowas when I was heading out that way. Thanks for the insights, nice TR.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  6. #6
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    Dec 2008
    Location
    Nashville TN
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    205
    Nice report. Did you notice any fishable sized lakes on the trip in/out?

  7. #7
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    Sep 2009
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    There is a small lake at Windy Gap, with decent sized ones further to the west. Did not test the waters, tho.

    Not sure about biking. There are plenty of old roads lower down but the trails I scouted seemed to be better suited to hiking, not biking.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    349
    Nice trip! Looks like a lot of pain for not much skiing though.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Vanity Fair
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    2,687
    This looks like quality june (?) skiing. Sort of unreasonable approach through summer green forest to ski suncups in the sun is a type of outing that has a special place in my heart.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Boise
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    88
    The Seven Devils are great, thanks for sharing! Sheep Lake makes for awesome camping. I had a 3 day trip planned to do the loop the same weekend you posted this OP. The weather ended up being crap and so we spent the weekend at lower elevation country.

    Sent from my SM-J700T using TGR Forums mobile app

  11. #11
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    Sep 2006
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    No longer somewhere in Idaho
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    Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I spent lots of time in there years back, climbed all seven in a day many years ago. The homeland.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Gravity always wins...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Funland
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    1,130
    I worked in the Wallowa's for a couple years with dreams of the Seven Devils. If I go back, I'll be sure to add more, thanks!
    I love you, baby, but the season's over.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    38
    Some more stoke from the Seven Devils: http://thelastchair.tumblr.com/post/.../thedevilskeep

  14. #14
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    Nov 2017
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    22
    Awesome adventure and trip report! Nice mountain scenery

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloud cult View Post
    Was prepared with crampons and ice axe but the narrow chute above was 3 feet wide and around 45 degrees -- to narrow for me to ski and too steep to feel comfortable downclimbing.
    Yeah, maybe smarter to come back with a partner. Far enough from civilization to make a solo effort tricky. Amazing spot. Just to be clear, the range is 8,000' of vertical or above sea level?

  16. #16
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    Range tops out at like 9400ft... 5.3 miles away, the Snake is at 1400ft.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    Range tops out at like 9400ft... 5.3 miles away, the Snake is at 1400ft.
    Legit.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by hafjell View Post
    Legit.
    Indeed. North America's deepest River gorge.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    344
    Quote Originally Posted by Last Chair View Post
    Some more stoke from the Seven Devils: http://thelastchair.tumblr.com/post/.../thedevilskeep
    Interesting. I think the main takeaway is that I was there about 3 weeks too late. Hard to translate into different snow years and spring melt rates, but earlier in the spring there would be much more terrain to choose from and that could likely be accessed without compromising too much on the approach. Again, the rangers knew nearly exactly where the snow line was on the road, so they are the go-to for beta.

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