Peak 6460 (Emery Ranch Peak) by Livingston Douglas

Elevation: 6,460 ft
Prominence: 520

This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019


Date of Climb:  October 8, 2019

Peak 6460 is an isolated peak that sits above Emery Ranch. It is a massive peak with ridges that extend in several directions. Public access is from the north via Coal Banks Creek Road/FSR-681. Most of the Emery Ranch area is private property. The summit lies just outside the bounds of the Sawtooth National Forest. USGS Ibex Peak

Access

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 roadwith a dispersed primitive campsite. Park here (5,600 feet).

North Ridge, Class 2

From the primitive campsite, bushwhack S through an easy section of scattered junipers to reach the steep open scrub-and-gravel face of a ridge. Climb up this face onto the ridge and continue S until the ridge ends at a wide gully that separates this ridge from the main, pronounced Northeast Spur of the North Ridge of Peak 6460. You will see a massive gap between Point 6282 and an unnamed ridge point W of it as you look S across the wide gully.

Proceed SW from here to reach a spur ridge that protrudes NW from the main summit ridge of Peak 6460. Bushwhack through sagebrush to get up onto this subridge in a flattish area. Once you reach the crest of the subridge, you will be pleasantly surprised to find a decent ATV road that follows the ridge crest, at least briefly. This is FST-879. It is shown on the Sawtooth National Forest map but is NOT shown on the USGS topo maps covering this area (Blue Hill and Ibex Peak quadrangles).

Follow this old road (FST-879) as it soon turns R/SW to move through a wide gully and track the N side of the Northeast Spur of the North Ridge. FST-879 eventually climbs leftward up onto the Northeast Spur where the spur joins the North Ridge, just W of Point 6346.

Continue to hike along FST-879 as it follows the ridge crest southward over a gentle hump/false summit and then drops SSE to a gentle saddle and an unsigned road junction. Continue SE on FST-879 as it climbs from this saddle up to the summit plateau of Peak 6460. The high point on this summit plateau is a bit difficult to determine. Leave FST-879 and scramble SW on the plateau into an area of scattered junipers, easy scrub, and scattered ground talus/boulders. In spite of the higher contour interval in the middle of the summit plateau, the SW area of the plateau seems to be the high point, based on altimeter measurements and visuals.

There were no summit cairns anywhere on the summit plateau. I scrambled NE back to the center of the plateau and continued NE to where the plateau begins to descend to Point 6,400+, a small, rocky, forested point that is clearly lower than both the center and SW end of the summit plateau. Visuals show that both when standing in the center of the plateau and when standing on the massive false summit hump ¾ mile away to the NW.

Once again, the USGS Ibex Peak quadrangle is nothing but a source of confusion as to where the summit high point actually is. The quad assigns an elevation of 6,442 feet to the NE point, yet the elevation point is positioned BELOW the 6,400-foot contour line. Now explain that one to me. Perhaps the USGS mapmakers intended to place the 6,442-foot mark in the center of the summit plateau, above the 6,440-foot contour line that lies there. Who knows?

This is yet another flat summit plateau with inconsistent measurements from the USGS that mandate that you walk around and satisfy yourself that you stood on the high point, which I did. It wastes some time, but it’s an unfortunate necessity with such ambiguity from both the terrain and the topographical map that you are relying upon.

Climber Trip Reports

Mountain Range: South Hills

Longitude: -114.01559   Latitude: 42.04059

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