Sunday, October 18, 2015

Climbing Buckhorn Peak, White Bird Peak, and Peak 10,475 (Dome Peak), Lemhi Range, Idaho

  • October 17, 2015
  • Team: Ben
  • Summits:
    • Buckhorn Peak, 10,412
    • White Bird Peak, 10,502
    • Dome Peak, 10475
  • Route: From Uncle Ike Creek
  • YDS: Class 2
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2,290
  • Total Miles: 5.72
The approach from the entrance to Uncle Ike Creek to the place where we began hiking is 3.7 miles.

I have been planning this trip for some time now. Studying the map, I saw the possibility of summiting 4 peaks all connected by gentle cols. Then I read where Rick Baugher had already made the journey to the 4 summits in a single trip. My mental map of the trek fit perfectly on Baugher's described route. The trip was on.

Ben and I climbed the north face of Buckhorn Peak from Uncle Ike Creek. The face is broad and gentle, so I not sure it matters a whole lot where you begin the ascent. We began just east of some massive towers located on the north side of the creek. You can't miss these dramatic formations. We hiked due east into the rising sun. Bushwacking through sagebrush and then forest we climbed to a calcite talus slope. maneuvered through blocky boulders, talus, and a little scree. The climbing was easy, very little sliding. We discovered that this field of rock could be largely avoided by taking a line further to the east. Further west, the slope looked to be composed of smaller scree.

The light was harsh and the mountain backlit, so not many photos were taken on the way to the top of Buckhorn Peak. I took a photo of the range to the north (flat light) and of the west (harsh side light) face of Marshal's Mount near the top of Buckhorn for reference.

Sunny Bar Peak, Nicholson Peak (center distance), Swanson Peak, and Little Diamond Peak

Peak 10,045 (Marshal's Mount)
Near the summit of Buckhorn, I snapped a photo of Ben. Later I learned that he made sure his Milky Way bar was showing in the photo. His way a showing Tom that he remembered to include a product endorsement in the shot, an inside joke.

Ben and the Milky Way bar
On the upper slopes of Buckhorn, I made a photo of where we entered the canyon from the Little Lost River Valley. We came into the canyon past Fallert Springs up and over and down a road that clung to the side of a steep slope. We were riding a four wheeler for the first time. This road was baptism by fire. we both leaned with all we had to keep the machine from rolling. Unknown to us at the time, the best way into the canyon was just a little to the south via a steep sided ravine channeling Uncle Ike Creek. We were much relived to make it to the bottom and find an alternative road for the journey out.

Little Lost River Valley, Fallert Springs, and Uncle Ike Creek Canyon
You can see the oasis of the springs and the road below the springs along the steep slope
Next, we turned east and headed to White Bird Peak. The way follows a gentle saddle between the two mountains. The walk is easy and the views were beautiful. This connecting ridge should be a part of any summit trip to Buckhorn Peak. The final slope up White Bird is just a bit steep but well worth the minimal effort.

Ben Walking to White Bird from Buckhorn
Dome Peak on right

To the south, Shrill Peak and Peak 10,604 tower over Mormon Gulch
Zoomed in shot of, I think, Tyler Peak for reference
This peak is on my wish list
On the top of White Bird, I wanted to begin the line to Dome Peak. Ben was not so sure. He decided to rest while I rushed to tag the summit of Dome and returned back to the summit of White Bird. I lightened my load and took off for Dome. I put the afterburners on and made the round trip in 60 minutes. Might not sound too good, but I was pretty proud for and old guy. The summit on Dome required a few low class 3 moves. The summit ridge is narrow and has considerable exposure on the north side. To avoid exposure, skirt the ridge to the south until you reach the top. Walking the ridge just spices up the climb.

Dome Peak

Dome Peak from East Ridge of White Bird

Summit of Dome Peak looking back to White Bird, and Buckhorn Peaks

White Bird and Sunny Bar Peak
If you look really close you can see Ben standing on White Bird

Retuning to the slope up White Bird Peak
Marshal's Mount in mid-ground
The tip of Swanson Peak, Little Diamond Peak, Shoshone John Peak, and Diamond Peak
 Now for the final peak. We dropped off White Bird and headed straight for the south ridge to the top of Marshal's Mount. Ben was not sold on climbing to the top of another mountain. I was caught in the middle. The summit was so close and attainable. Ben's reserves were about gone after 2 summits, and we had a long hike back to the ATV. I kept pushing us towards the ridge leading to Marshal's Mount. Ben kept dragging his feet, falling more and more behind. I took us right up to the point where we would have to make a decision, and then decided to end the day's outing on a good note for Ben. After all, aren't good memories more important than another summit?

Marshal's Mount in near distance
Dropping off the north ridge of White Bird, looking back at Dome Peak
Marshal's Mount was so close
We dropped off the ridge and into the forest. Bushwhacked east. Crossed several roads in very poor repair. We surmised the road(s) we crossed may somehow lead to a faded trace of a road going up the northwest ridge of White Bird. Many parts, however, were impassable. On the way into the area, we did pass a fork in the road that seemed to climb in this general direction, but the forest service had blocked passage. So, not sure if it is still possible to drive to the top of White Bird.

Ben found the remains of a cabin in pretty good repair and lots of old steel cans of Olympia beer opened with the old style can opener.

I made a few more image on the way back to the ATV. All in all the approach from the Little Lost River Valley was about 5 miles and the hike was about 5 miles. Total elevation gain was about 4,500 feet.

We returned via Uncle Ike Creek and had beautiful fall views along the creek. The narrow canyon near the valley opening was stunning. Another great day in the Lemhis.

West slope of Marshal's Mount

Little Diamond Peak and Marshal's Mount

Swanson Peak and Little Diamond Peak
GPS Track
Ben and I drove back into Rexburg late in the evening. We decided to go to Fongs (Old Fongs) and order a dinner of General Tso's chicken. We were craving protein and the General Tso's chicken really hit the spot.

For more trip reports visit Idaho Climbing

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