Anna Gorin has Idaho Mountain Fever.
A Boise photographer in her young 30s, she pursues big hikes in the Idaho mountains, bagging peaks at a blistering pace. She might climb three mountain peaks in a week, or even a day. She’s scaled 53 mountain peaks so far in 2023, and in 2020, she notched more than 70 Idaho peaks. Overall, she’s notched over 160 high points in Idaho.
“I love getting out in nature and seeing beautiful views, plus the accomplishment of climbing to the summit,” Gorin says. “I love the alpine scenery, alpine meadows full of glowing wildflowers, and the snow-capped mountains make my heart sing.”
Gorin is on track to join the lists of the most accomplished peak-baggers in Idaho who have climbed more than 300 high points. Who knows, at this rate, she might reach 500.
“Anna not only has a talented photographer’s eye for composition but also a climber’s eye for finding the best lines up mountains,” said Tom Lopez, a prolific mountain-climber and author of “Idaho: The Climbing Guide.”
Gorin is someone to watch in the Idaho outdoor scene, if you haven’t noticed already! I recommend people pay attention to Gorin’s trip posts on the “Hiking Idaho” group on Facebook. I’ve enjoyed reading about her trips and seeing her scale mountains on trails I haven’t experienced before, despite the fact that I’ve spent the last 40 years trying to cover every square inch of Idaho’s backcountry.
Gorin’s energy for exploring Idaho’s mountains is infectious just by the quality of the photos in her posts (she carries a good camera with her on trips), and the raging enthusiasm exhibited by her friends in her summit photos. She’s got a core group of 10-15 friends who go frequently. They’re clearly in great shape and having a great time, but you know that they felt their thighs and lungs burning on the climbs just like any other human being. But they had the gumption to reach the summit.
They’ve also got the gusto to bag new peaks as often as possible, putting in late night drives on the bookends of trips to reach the mountains from Boise.
“I like to vary it between McCall, Stanley, Ketchum and Fairfield, depending on the weather,” she said. “I enjoy going to see new places.”
Just on the spur of the moment, Gorin said her top 5 favorite Idaho peaks are:
- Standhope Peak in the Pioneer Mountains (elevation 11,878 feet). “The view from the top was epic!” she says.
- Johnstone Peak in the Pioneers (elevation 9,879 feet). “Sometimes the smaller mountains have better views of the peaks above.”
- Elk Ridge in the Soldier Mountains (elevation 8,551 feet). “It’s so pretty up there. That one has a great effort-to-reward ratio.”
- He Devil in the Seven Devils Range, Hells Canyon (elevation 9,400 feet). She saw mountain goats up there.
- Kelly Peak in the Sawtooth Mountains (elevation 9,321 feet). “That peak has extensive views of the southern part of the Sawtooths.”
Gorin grew up in Boise. She didn’t really experience the outdoors that much as a kid. Her parents home-schooled her, and maybe went to Stanley once a year. She went Willamette University for college, majoring in art. She launched a photography business after returning to Boise from college, and she’s been doing that for over 10 years now. She does portraits in outdoor settings for clients and landscape photography. See more at annagorin.com.
In her mid-20s, Gorin started getting into hiking in the Boise foothills, riding the Boise River Greenbelt, and joined some meet up hiking groups and 20-30 age groups to meet people to go hiking with. A friend convinced her to climb Mt. Borah, Idaho’s tallest mountain, in 2017. It was her first official peak.
After summiting Borah, she was blown away by the roof-top view. “This is an amazing mountain. There’s nothing else higher anywhere around me. This is so cool!”
“I loved that feeling, and that drove me to climb more mountains,” Gorin says.
Trip planning: She uses a wide variety of resources in planning her trips, including hard-copy national forest and topo maps, interactive U.S. Forest Service maps, Caltopo maps online, Google Earth, Tom Lopez’s “Idaho: A Climbing Guide,” lists from John Platt, who was a person cut from the same cloth as Anna, but probably more of a technical climber than she wishes to be.
She also uses AllTrails.com, Summit Post, and more online resources. She spends a lot of time planning trips to understand the challenges ahead. She checks on trail conditions; she checks snow levels before she goes. She recommends lots of advance planning for a safe journey. But even with all the planning, things can become challenging!
“I also enjoy the puzzle of getting places,” she says. “Sometimes it can almost be like a problem-solving game to figure things out or thrash through the brush while cross-country hiking to find our way to the top.”
Next time you’re online, watch for Gorin’s stunning photography of Idaho’s mountains and trip notes. You might just discover some new places to explore!
Steve Stuebner is a contributor to Idaho Press Outdoors.