Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Climbing Sheep Mountain, Big Windy Peak, and Trail Peak, Lemhi Range, Idaho

August 16, 2015

The day after summiting The Riddler, John, Tom, and I were poised to make a threefer, three summits in one outing. We had driven to the old Hahn Townsite and found a place to camp near the mouth of Spring Mountain Canyon.  The turn off to Hahn is just south of the Gilmore summit on Highway 28. Tom and John talked about driving to almost 10,000 feet up Quartzite Canyon and then ascending by foot over a rolling ridge to top out on Sheep Mountain (10,865). Next we would jump back in Tom's Sequoia and drive to the base of Big Windy Peak (10,362). The plan was to ascend Big Windy and then hike over to the top of Trail Peak (10,553). I listened with slight amusement. It seems Tom and John had entered into a bit of good natured peak-bagging competition with a friend and were determined to not to come up short. A tip from a friend laid the strategy to claim three more summits in the morrow. John had already been up Big Windy Peak in the winter but hadn't snowshoed over to Trail Peak. This was his chance to bag Trail from Big Windy. I was along for the ride.

Driving up Quartzite canyon was tedious. The Sequoia rolled from rock to rock. Tom did his best to steer around large and sharp obstacles. I empathized with his chore of navigating the rough road and just bounced around the back seat until we reached our destination. The hike began with the rolling ridges to Sheep Mountain.

The path to Sheep Mountain lies ahead

Rolling hills to the summit of Sheep Mountain

Tom and John walking the ridge to Sheep Mountain

Noticeable rock glaciers in a distant canyon

Tom and John

Returning from Sheep Mountain far right

We then drove to the base of Big Windy Peak and began the ascent.

Heading up Big Windy Peak
Sheep Mountain in the distance from the second parking place
Tom and John walk by a mining test dig pit?
Tailings piled high on the horizon (near center) from a large dig
Big Windy Peak 
The summit of Big Windy Peak is unique in so much as it is a large plain. John discussed the possibility that it is a peneplain. The end result is a broad high point with the summit cairn looking like it is sitting in the middle of a field and not on a typical mountain peak.

Big Windy Summit Cairn
Just a cool incongruent object on Big Windy Peak
Now that's art
The summit of Trail Peak is in the distance on the left
On the summit of Big Windy, Tom decided to head back to the car. John and I took off to tag the summit of Trail Peak. We made good time and found a good trail up the side of the mountain.

Sheep Mountain from Big Windy Peak
Notice the haze all around. Smoke from wildfires sadly obscured the views
Looking southeast on Big Windy
For some reason this view reminded me of Machu Picchu
Mount Inspiration in the distance
John crossing the plain on the way to Trail Peak
Trail Peak from the plain of Big Windy Peak
The summit is the peak on the upper left
John Platt Photo
On the summit of Trail Peak
Bell Mountain in center distance
Mount Inspiration for future reference
Once back at the car I made a few images of old mining remnants around the area. I am including a few here just for interest sake.

Structure and tailings pile
Remnants of an old tram system
We did not return via Quartzite Canyon. Rather we descended on the main road right at the Base of Big Windy. Here's a photo of the road and Big Windy Peak.

Main Road in front of Big Windy
A final image of Trail Peak and the descending road
GPS tract to Big Windy Peak and then on to Trail Peak
On the way down, I set a GPS route to gather stats on the drive from the high point of the road to the highway. Here is the track and pertinent stats.

For further reference check out the following links:

John Platt, Splattski, Big Windy Ridge Report

Tom Lopez, Idaho A Climbing Guide, Big Windy Report

Tom Lopez, Idaho A Climbing Guide, Trail Peak Report 

Tom Lopez, Idaho A Climbing Guide, Sheep Mountain Report

For more trip reports of other mountains visit

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