Monday, April 04, 2016

Trip Report: Bald Mountain, 9,011 ft, Lemhi Range, Idaho

Bald Mountain from Blue Dome
  • April 1, 2016
  • Team: Ben and Myself
  • Summit: 
    • Bald Mountain
  • Route: Southeast Ridge
  • YDS: Class 2
  • Total Elevation Gain: 3,681 ft.
  • Total Miles: 6.65 miles

Ben and I drove over to the Lemhi Range with the idea of climbing Bald Mountain. We hoped that by now the road into the range would be free of drifts. Heading north on the Salmon Highway, we turned left at the sign for Eight Mile Canyon. Once on the back road, Ben took the wheel and drove all the way to the mountain.

Copper Mountain, Beaverhead Range from the banks of Birch Creek

The road was in great condition all the way to the southeast ridge of Bald Mountain. This ridge extends northwest from the road to an upper gentle slope leading west to the summit. This line undulates up and down till meeting the westward slope. In retrospect, this route was surely not the fastest or easiest. Yet, it was a pleasant hike with no real difficulty.

GPS Tract
On the descent, we dropped off the west side of the ridge to the valley floor to avoid the last few ups and downs. A shorter, more direct route, would be the magenta line to the east of our green route. Another possibility would be hiking the north ridge as shown above.

A two foot cairn locating a geodetic marker
About a mile from the summit we found a two foot cairn mysteriously positioned on the ridge. My initial thought was why would anyone go to the trouble of building a nice size cairn in the middle a ridge? The answer to this question was found in some post-climb research.

Ben suddenly became much more interested in the hike when we spotted a herd of elk a half mile away. We then suddenly intersected with their tracks in the deepening snow. Their scent still hung in the air. We watched them approach the east/west ridge and disappear over it.

Elk tracks
Elk cresting the ridge
After the elk sighting, Ben was fascinated with a small slab avalanche. The wind had loaded a slope that eventually slide under the weight. I was reminded of the story of a kid(s) who were killed in the foothills around Pocatello a number of years ago. They were playing in a gully when the windward slope gave way and buried them. Seemingly benign slopes become avalanche prone when laden with wind blown snow. 

Small slab avalanche
From this point, the grade flattened a bit and it was an easy walk to the summit.

Bracing against the wind, Ben approaches the summit
Ben on the summit
Witness post in foreground
Diamond Peak in the distance
We found two geodetic markers on the summit and the remains of a witness post. 

Clark No 1

Station Mark

The following data is from the NGS Data Sheet:

DESCRIBED BY COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY 1950 (WRH)
 PZ0702'STATION IS LOCATED ON THE HIGHEST POINT OF A BARREN, GRASSY
 PZ0702'AND ROCKY TOPPED MOUNTAIN, KNOWN LOCALLY AS BALD MOUNTAIN.
 PZ0702'IT IS, AIRLINE, 29 MILES SOUTHEAST OF GILMORE, 5-1/2 MILES
 PZ0702'WEST SOUTHWEST OF BLUE DOME TAVERN ON STATE HIGHWAY 28 AND
 PZ0702'1 MILE EAST OF THE BUTTE-CLARK COUNTY LINE.
 PZ0702'
 PZ0702'STATION MARK, STAMPED CLARK 1950, IS A STANDARD BRONZE DISK
 PZ0702'SET IN A DRILL HOLE IN OUTCROPPING BEDROCK THAT IS FLUSH
 PZ0702'WITH THE SURROUNDING ROCK.  IT IS 17 FEET WEST OF A WITNESS
 PZ0702'POST.
 PZ0702'
 PZ0702'REFERENCE MARK NUMBER 1, STAMPED CLARK NO 1 1950, IS A STANDARD
 PZ0702'BRONZE DISK SET IN A DRILL HOLE IN OUTCROPPING BEDROCK THAT
 PZ0702'IS FLUSH WITH THE SURROUNDING ROCK.  IT IS 1-1/2 FEET LOWER
 PZ0702'IN ELEVATION THAN THE STATION.
 PZ0702'
 PZ0702'REFERENCE MARK NUMBER 2, STAMPED CLARK NO 2 1950, IS A STANDARD
 PZ0702'BRONZE DISK SET IN A DRILL HOLE IN OUTCROPPING BEDROCK THAT
 PZ0702'IS FLUSH WITH THE SURROUNDING ROCK.  IT IS 6 FEET LOWER IN
 PZ0702'ELEVATION THAN THE STATION.
 PZ0702'
 PZ0702'AZIMUTH MARK, STAMPED CLARK 1950, IS A STANDARD BRONZE DISK
 PZ0702'SET IN A DRILL HOLE IN OUTCROPPING BEDROCK THAT IS FLUSH
 PZ0702'WITH THE GROUND.  IT IS 2 FEET WEST OF A 2 FOOT CAIRN.  TO
 PZ0702'REACH FROM THE STATION, GO DOWN THE RIDGE NORTHEASTERLY AND
 PZ0702'THEN NORTHERLY FOR 1.0 MILE TO A 2 FOOT CAIRN ON A ROCKY
 PZ0702'OUTCROP AND THE AZIMUTH MARK.


We found "Clark No 1" and the "Station Mark" for triangulation. It is interesting to note that the witness post is still at the station mark location. It is also interesting to learn that the two foot cairn we passed on the way up is mentioned as a location marker for the "Azimuth Mark." Finally, I have always wondered about the area at the mouth of Skull Canyon being called Blue Dome. The 1950 reports states that the Blue Dome Tavern once was located there.

We made good time on the descent. The snow had softened up enough to cushion big strides down the hill. Once out of the snow, we traversed to the west of the ridge to avoid elevation gains on the way down.

At the car we refreshed ourselves with grapes, crackers, Fritos, and bean dip. the day was still young and we decided to drive over to Skull Canyon. We had the four-wheeler in tow and wanted to see how far up the canyon we could get before snow hindered our progress. Ben was again motivated for another adventure by being able to drive the four-wheeler up the canyon.

Pulling into Blue Dome, we were greeted by seven beautiful rams. Ben was pleased to see both a large herd of elk and a group of sheep on this trip. He said he knocked two things off his bucket list that day.

We didn't get very far as tight spots in the canyon were still covered in snow and ice.




This trip was not only a chance to summit Bald Mountain, But it was also a chance to reconnoiter the surrounding mountains. I am creating a visual record of the Lemhi Range to add to my personal knowledge, and I knew vantages from Bald Mountain would feature some impressive views. Although the light could have been better, I made some images to help me understand the relationship between mountains and provide reference material for future trips. The following images may also prove beneficial to others.

Great Western Peak, Mount Hoopes, Tyler Peak, Shrill Peak:




Two views of Shrill Peak, the dome shaped peak on the right:




Four views of Mount Hoopes and Tyler Peak:
Great Western can be seen on the far left of the fourth photo.










Four views of Peak 9,860 (northeast of Shrill):



Below the distinctive dome of Shrill Peak is seen to the left of Peak 9,860








Peak 9,125 southwest of Bald Mountain:



Peak 9,860, Shrill, Dome, White Bird, Marshalls Mount:



Shrill Peak, Dome Peak, White Bird Peak, Buckhorn Peak, Marshalls Mount:



Big Boy Peak, The Riddler, Diamond Peak, Lame Jake Peak:



Black and White Peak, Shoshone John Peak, Big Boy Peak, The Riddler:


Shoshone John Peak, Big Boy Peak, The Riddler:


Diamond Peak:



Black and White Peak, Shoshone John Peak



Swanson Peak, Little Diamond Peak:



Little Diamond Peak:



And finally a photo of the hills just south of Skull Canyon in the Beaverheads. The light was just right and a narrow canyon just south of Skull Canyon was thrown into shadow making it stand out. I thought it made for an interesting shot.



Click for an idea of peaks

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