Elevation: 6,450 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Date of Climb: October 7, 2019
Peak 6450 presides over expansive Cave Gulch. It is one of a series of hills in the immediate area, three of which are ranked summits! These truly are HILLS and are, consequently, members of the South Hills. Not very exciting, but for peakbaggers, they still COUNT, which is more than I can say for the plethora of named summits in the South Hills that are UNRANKED. Peak 6450 is Peak #1 in the Daves Pass Trifecta.
Northeast Face, Class 2
From the center of Oakley, ID, drive ½ mile west on the main street to reach a signed L/S turn for “Oakley Reservoir”. This is the beginning of Goose Creek Road, a major north-south gravel road (though it is initially paved in Oakley) running down the east side of the South Hills, east of Oakley Reservoir and Goose Creek. Goose Creek flows north into Oakley Reservoir.
Drive south on Goose Creek Road through the streets of Oakley and continue south, ignoring 2 R/W turns signed for “Oakley Reservoir.” You do NOT want to go to the reservoir (as you would for Trapper Creek Road). At 8.3 miles, you reach [unsigned] Wilson Pass and an unsigned road junction. Go straight/south here. At 15.8 miles, turn R/W onto [signed] FSR-681/Coal Banks Creek Road. The smooth, wide gravel of Goose Creek Road is over, and Coal Banks Creek Road is not ashamed to frighten you right from the start, as you must drop slightly to ford Goose Creek.
Coal Banks Creek Road is narrow but isn’t too rough for the first 1.5 miles, where you reach an unsigned junction. Go R here to stay on Coal Banks Creek Road. The road gets more rutted and rockier now and has a few moderately steep sections, but it is passable for a 4WD vehicle with decent ground clearance. At 3.7 miles, there is a small pullout area on the left side of the road with a dispersed primitive campsite. Park here (5,600 feet). If road conditions permit, you may be able to continue driving all the way up to Daves Pass.
From the parking “pullout”, hike up FSR-681 to the base of the Northeast Face of Peak 6450. The road has some major twists and turns. Ignore any and all side roads, of which there are a few. Leave FSR-681 as you approach the obvious Northeast Face of Peak 6450. This departure point should be somewhere in the 5,680-foot to 5,720-foot area. The off-trail climb begins here.
Northeast Face, Class 2
Leave the road and bushwhack across a flat section of tall sagebrush (6 feet and higher) and cross a dry stream bed on the way. Thankfully, the tall sagebrush soon ends and the route becomes more of a normal sagebrush scramble. Work your way up the Northeast Face, staying to the R/N of thicker brush and trees. High up, the slope eases considerably and you reach the tilted summit plateau/ridge. Continue in a southwesterly direction through scattered junipers and scrub to reach the open high point at the southwest end of the long plateau. The high point showed no signs of previous ascent, so I built a modest cairn here.
Northwest Face, Class 2
This route is the next leg of a ridge traverse from Peak 6450 to Peak 6355 to Peak 6675. Access is the same as for the Northeast Ridge Route. It is a descent route, so it is described from the summit of Peak 6450 down to the connecting saddle with Peak 6355.
From the summit of Peak 6450, descend NW down the face, initially through a band of massive boulders. After passing the boulders, the terrain is a mix of scattered junipers and scrub. Lower down, cross a minor dry gully (with an old two-track jeep road passing through it). After the gully, scramble up easy scrub to cross a minor hump and then make a final descent down to the saddle at the base of the East Face of Peak 6355. When you look at the USGS topo map, you might choose to avoid this final hump by bashing through the flatter terrain to the south of it, but the brush and trees there are thick and unpleasant. Staying to the R/E of that mess is what sanity dictates. Consequently, the hump comes into play.
What is the true elevation of Peak 6450?
Lest you think that I’m asking a rhetorical question (like “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?), I’m not. This is not a trick question. How can its elevation be 6,450 feet when there is no contour line for 6,440 feet? Based on contour lines, the maximum elevation for this peak is 6,439 feet. The Ibex Peak quadrangle has numerous errors of this sort. Either the map is missing a contour line or the elevation is lower than 6,440 feet. Make up your mind, USGS mapmakers. Based on my altimeter readings, the true elevation probably is about 6,450 feet.