Elevation: 5,691 ft
This peak is not in the book. There are two routes set out below. The first is mine and the second is by Livingston Douglas. Updated November 2019
Don Benchmark is an easy climb with exceptional views. The peak is located just north of US-20. Because of its proximity to the highway, it has been climbed with snowshoes during the winter. However, if there is sufficient snow, avalanches are possible. So make sure the terrain is safe before trying a winter ascent. There is a large cross on the summit. USGS Long Tom Reservoir
Access the peak via the Praire/Pony Creek Road, FS-131 [(E)(1) page 155] which leaves US-20 15.5 miles north of Mountain Home. This road parallels the peak’s western slopes.
South Ridge, Class 2
You can ascend the peak’s southern and western slopes from any point along the Pony Creek Road in the first 0.5 miles from US-20. To climb the south ridge park in the large parking area just iff the highway. Hike down the road, cross the cattleguard and make your way up the broad, sagebrush covered ridge to the summit.
West Ridge–South, Class 2 by Livingston Douglas
Date of Climb: October 1, 2019
From I-84 (Exit 95) in Mountain Home, drive 14.6 miles east on US-20 to reach [signed] Prairie/ Pony Creek Road, FS-131 [(E)(1) page 155]. Go L/W on Prairie Road/FSR-131 and drive 1.8 miles to a dispersed campsite on a knoll on the L/S side of the road. Park here (5,080 feet).
Don Benchmark has a West Ridge that forks into a West Ridge—North and a West Ridge—South. This route climbs the West Ridge—South. From the roadside campsite, cross the road and bushwhack E briefly to reach the crest of the West Ridge—South. Follow the ridge crest ESE to a flat area just W of Point 5435. Drop L/N slightly to a saddle. Cross a cattle fence then contour NE (skirting the R/E side of a ridge point) to reach the West Ridge proper. Drop slightly to another saddle and cross another cattle fence.
From here, the ridge bends R/S to reach another gentle ridge hump. Now you can see the summit dead ahead to the E. Drop 40 feet to a final saddle then continue E then SE to the summit of Don Benchmark. The summit has a 7-foot white wooden cross on top. A USGS BM is in a nearby ground boulder. This entire hike is in open terrain. The sagebrush is somewhat tedious, but not too bad.
Climber Trip Reports