Elevation: 8,975 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2018
Peak 8975 is the high point on the long, high Dry Ridge west of Stewart Flat. It has a USGS benchmark and a repeater antenna on its summit. USGS Stewart Flat
West Ridge, Class 1
Date of Climb: August 29, 2018
From the signed turnoff on US-30 in the center of the bustling metropolis of Georgetown, ID, turn E onto Georgetown Canyon Road (which is called Stringtown Road within the city limits). Drive up the road to a junction at 2.3 miles (LEFT is CR-1095/Left Hand Fork Road; STRAIGHT is Georgetown Canyon Road/FSR-102). Go straight; the road changes from paved to gravel here. At 3.5 miles, you enter the Caribou National Forest. At 11.7 miles, the road crests at Georgetown Saddle and enters Caribou County. At 12.9 miles, the road forks (STRAIGHT is CR-1102/Diamond Creek Road; RIGHT is FSR-146); go straight here onto Diamond Creek Road. At 21.2 miles, FSR-134/Stewart Canyon Road is on the LHS of the road. Park at this road junction (elevation is 6,925 feet). There are numerous dispersed campsites in Stewart Flat. I camped at a nicely shaded campsite 0.2 miles south of this road junction.
Hike, drive, or ride (ATV or MC) up FSR-134/Stewart Canyon Road all the way to the top of the canyon at an 8,590-foot pass. If you are doing the ridge traverse from Peak 8909/Dry Ridge South, descend the North Ridge Route of Peak 8909 to intersect Stewart Canyon Road/FSR-134. Hike 0.3 miles up Stewart Canyon Road to the 8,590-foot pass.
From the 8,590-foot pass at the head of Stewart Canyon, leave the road (FSR-134) and follow an old jeep road eastward up the rounded ridge. At about 100 vertical feet below the summit ridge, the road turns L/E and degrades into an overgrown two-track path. This two-track path drops slightly to cross a grassy field and then climbs eastward through more grass to reach the repeater antenna at the NW end of the summit plateau. Walk SE on a footpath about 50 yards to reach the gentle summit. The high point still has the USGS BM encased in poured concrete. There is a second USGS BM about 30 feet to the east of the high point. None of the maps show the old, handy jeep road that makes this hike a lark from the saddle at the head of Stewart Canyon. True Class 1 stuff. A welcome break from bushwhacking through thick scrub and blowdown!
Southeast Ridge/South Spur (Descent), Class 3
Same as for the West Ridge Route
This route is part of a ridge traverse from Peak 8140 to Peak 8909 to Peak 8975. As a descent route, it begins at the summit of Peak 8975 and ends at the junction of Stewart Canyon Road/FSR-134 and Diamond Creek Road/CR-1102.
From the summit, follow the ridge crest SE on a weak game/use trail. The terrain is so open and easy up here that you don’t really need the trail initially, but it’s not a bad thing. The trail is located either on the ridge crest or just to the R/SW of it. Soon after you begin the descent, the R/SW side of the ridge becomes forested. Sometimes this is good—when the game trail descends through the forest, just below the ridgeline. Other times, it’s not so good—when the forest’s blowdown slows you down. In the cases where the blowdown becomes a problem, return to the ridge crest and follow it without using a trail. The terrain on the ridge crest is generally good (broken rock and short veg). Alternate, as necessary, between these options to keep barreling down this fast ridge.
After about a mile of descent on the SE ridge, you reach a fork in the ridge at 8,200 feet. If you climbed Peak 8909 earlier in the day, you got a good look at the Southeast Ridge and South Spur. The South Spur is mostly open terrain and has no cliff bands in it. It sure beats a thickly forested bushwhack down to Stewart Canyon Road. Now you are standing at the very ridge juncture you saw from the top of Peak 8909. It’s the moment of truth.
The bad news is that the South Spur is rounded and rather ill-defined. The worse news is that it is wickedly steep high up. But the terrain is open and is a workable combination of gravel and thick desert scrub with gaps. Put on your gaiters and leather gloves and prepare to descend. From the ridge fork, go R/S down a very steep slope (Class 3). You will need to use your hands to grab veg or to brace a short fall. I fell two or three times in the steep, loose terrain. There’s no lethal exposure here, just a bit of embarrassment when you fall on your duff as you descend. No, you can’t ski down the gravel using your boots because there’s far too much desert scrub here to prevent that from being a viable option.
Lower down, you must skirt around some scattered pines. You will very quickly reach the [blessed] flat terrain (relatively-speaking) of the jeep road that awaits you at the bottom of this spur (Stewart Canyon Road). If you do as I did, you will descend the South Spur in 11 minutes and drop about 750 feet in so doing. No, there are no game trails or cattle trails on this wickedly steep spur. Follow Stewart Canyon Road back down to its junction with Diamond Creek Road, where you are parked.