Beyond L.A.: Boosaule Montes

Image: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Peakbaggers, especially those interested in visiting high points, won’t want to miss Boösaule Montes. At 57,414 feet, it is about five times as tall as San Gorgonio. Moreover, its comparatively isolated location on the Jupiter moon of Io is likely to be a strong selling point for hikers weary of battling crowds at Lake Elsinore Southern California’s more popular destinations. Io figures to be a strong player in the ecotourism industry, especially if humans colonize Mars and Olympus Mons gets overrun with tourists and brand ambassadors.


Io is Jupiter’s third largest satellite, slightly bigger than Earth’s moon. Though Io is known for its volcanic activity, Boösaule Montes is not a volcano. It is the highest point on Io and the fourth highest mountain in the solar system (tallest non-volcanic). Depending on where it is in its orbit, Io is typically located about 390 million miles from Earth. Nonstop flights are available, although if you are leaving from SNA, BUR, ONT or LGB, expect to have to connect through Jupiter, Mars or Atlanta Hartsfield. Boösaule Montes is located just south of Io’s equator at 10 degrees south, 270 degrees west. A high clearance vehicle is recommended for reaching the trail head.


Those accustomed to hiking and traveling on Earth might be put off by Io’s atmosphere of sulfur dioxide and its lack of gluten-free dining options. Another potential challenge is Io’s average temperature: -202 degrees F/-130 degrees C (remember, cotton kills!)


Most carriers don’t have extensive coverage on Io, so plan accordingly. Also check with your provider to see how interplanetary travel counts toward your data plan.


Most peak baggers will probably want to set their sights on the southern and tallest of Boösaule Montes’s three summits. From the plateau northwest of Pele, proceed at a bearing of 300 degrees (exercise caution – on Io, often the floor actually is hot lava) and gain the toe of the ridge.

Near the summit, you will tackle a scarp with a 40 degree slope; this is where you will be thankful that Io’s gravity is only about 18% of Earth’s. Nevertheless, microspikes are recommended.

Finally you arrive on the summit, where viewing tubes are set up to observe locations such as Calisto, Ganymede, the Rose Bowl and Europa. Ambitious hikers can continue to the east and north summits or perhaps explore the Pillan Patera crater. Whether you go farther or call it a day at the south summit, a hike to Boösaule Montes is sure to be an IO-pening experience.

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