Elevation: 7,579 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Southwest Face/South Ridge, Class 2
Date of Climb: September 15, 2019
Buck Peak is one of three ranked summits that surround Clifton Basin (Buck Peak, Peak 7870, and Weston Peak). When combined with nearby Old Baldy Peak (8,356 feet), you can have a 4-peak morning as I did in September 2019. The ridge traverse between these peaks offers stunning views. Buck Peak stands like a sentinel above the hamlet of Clifton, Idaho. USGS Clifton
Clifton Basin Road/FSR-045 begins as South 1st West Street (signed) at the south end of Clifton, ID. It is a L/W turnoff from the unsigned, paved “Oxford Highway” which runs northward from ID-36 (in Dayton, ID) to US-91 north of Oxford, ID. Clifton Basin Road is 5.3 miles north of ID-36 in Dayton.
Clifton Basin Road is mostly on private land, but it eventually reaches the Caribou-Targhee National Forest at a cattle gate at the 4.3-mile mark. At 4.4 miles, you reach Clifton Basin and a corral. The elevation here is 6,320 feet. Please note that the USGS topo map is grossly inaccurate as to where the NF boundary line is. The boundary is much higher up than the USGS topo map shows. The NFS map accurately places the NF boundary close to Clifton Basin.
Speaking of maps, the Westside Ranger District (Caribou-Targhee National Forest) in Pocatello has a free 1-page trail/road map that covers this area. It’s called the “Westside Ranger District—Oxford/Clarkston Area” trail map. Just ask for it. By the way, the Pocatello BLM/FS office is a beautiful, relatively-new facility on South Cliffs Drive, just off I-15 at Exit 67. This is one the best BLM/FS offices in the State of Idaho. Their staff is knowledgeable and they are well-stocked with BLM/NFS maps and printouts.
From Clifton Basin, hike N up FSR-045 about a mile to 6,800 feet in a flattish, forested area. Leave the road here and bushwhack E to cross a tiny stream then bushwhack NE through a short section of dense forest/brush to reach open grass/sagebrush (mostly field grass). Work your way NE up the slope to the rounded South Ridge of Buck Peak. Follow the ridge northward to the mountain mahogany-clad summit cap. The terrain on the small summit area is a mix of scattered mountain mahogany and ground boulders.
The summit high point is a rocky perch hidden amongst the mountain mahogany. I could only squat on the summit. My six-foot frame would not allow me to stand, given the low branches of the stiff, prickly, branches of the surrounding mountain mahogany trees. As such, the views from the top are limited. There is a small summit cairn here.
Southwest Ridge (Descent), Class 2
Same as for the Southwest Face/South Ridge Route.
From the summit, descend SW for about 100 vertical feet through dense mountain mahogany, large boulders, and ground slabs to reach open field grass. Follow the L/S side of an old cattle fence all the way down to the ridge saddle at the base of the Southwest Ridge. FSR-045 crosses this saddle.