Peak 6540 (South Allison Ridge) by Livingston Douglas

Elevation: 6,540 ft
Prominence: 360

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This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019


Peak 6540 is the high point on a ridge located due south of Allison Creek. Peak 6540 is a surprisingly massive mountain. The easiest access is via an old jeep road on the North Ridge coming up from Allison Creek Road. Unfortunately, a private ranch blocks public entry to BLM/NF land and the magnificent upper reaches of Allison Creek Road. The West Face/Northwest Ridge Route is entirely on BLM land and avoids the private ranch land to the north. Unfortunately, it is a much more challenging route from the standpoints of both navigation and terrain. USGS Allison Creek

West Face/Northwest Ridge, Class 3

Date of Climb: July 25, 2019

Access

Park at a large pullout on the R/E side of US-93. This pullout is 0.4 mile north of the entrance to the Colston Creek Access/Campground. The elevation here is 4,550 feet.

Please note that, in retrospect, the best spot to begin this climb is at the Colston Creek Access/Campground. Park at the campground/picnic area and cross to the E side of US-93. Scramble NE up onto an obvious shoulder/ridge and join the West Face/Northwest Ridge Route at about 5,200 feet on the West Face of the Northwest Ridge of Peak 6540.

The Climb

From the parking pullout, scramble E up a steep grass/sage hillside onto a shoulder. This shoulder introduces you to a vast open area of moderately-sloped grass/sage with other minor shoulders and gullies and a MAJOR GULLY (the descent route) splitting the West Face of this big mountain. That large gully is to your R/S. Stay to the L/N of this gully and bushwhack E (and a bit L/NE to cross a minor dry gully) to intercept the obvious Northwest Ridge at the base of a rocky outcrop to your L-ish at about 5,700 feet.

Climb a Class 3 chute to get onto the ridge crest at this rocky point. The terrain now gets easier. The Northwest Ridge is rocky and narrow but there is a use/game trail that helps some of the time. Work your way SE up through rocky outcrops mixed with ridge crest mountain mahogany and moderate (not easy) sagebrush. The underlying base is loose talus/scree/gravel, but it goes reasonably well. Side-hilling is not a good idea on this ridge; stay on or close to the ridge crest.

You will soon reach the top of a rocky point (Point 6240+) and find a large cairn there. Continue scrambling SE on the ridge, dropping 90 vertical feet then climbing 35 vertical feet to cross over a minor, but large, rocky ridge hump. After this hump, drop SE slightly to a gentle saddle. Now it is an easy cruise eastward on rock-free grass/sagebrush. The sagebrush is short and fairly easy, but it does try to trip you and requires some weaving.

This easy slope leads up to the gentle West Summit. This is NOT the high point. Continue eastward on an old 2-track jeep road to reach the gentle hump that is the true summit. The summit area has short scrub and a bit of embedded talus with a few pieces of loose talus/scree here and there. There was a small cairn on top. I rebuilt it on the highest point and added a few rocks to it. The summit offers nice views of the Salmon River, US-93, and the Allison Creek Ranch.

West Gully (Descent), Class 2+

Access

Same as for the West Face/Northwest Ridge Route, though if you plan to ascend this route, it is best to park at the Colston Creek Access/Campground, about 0.1 mile north of the point where the West Gully intercepts US-93.

The Descent

From the summit, follow the ridge W to reach the West Summit. From there, descend a sagebrush slope SW to reach the head of the West Gully. The gully is a rather brushy mess up high and isn’t fun. The gully heads W then NW then takes a sharp L/SW turn lower down to descend to US-93.  The top couple hundred feet of the gully is narrow with loose gravel on both sides and is thick with brush/sage. Just bash your way down through it and side-hill when necessary. There are no game trails to help here. Not even animals (domesticated or wild) are stupid enough to wander here.

Lower down, the side-hilling is much easier and eventually the gully makes a series of twists and turns. Bedrock slabs become the base of the gully, minimizing veg and making for a fast descent. However, there are 3-4 Class 2+ dry waterfalls to descend in this area. The gully flames out as it nears US-93, so just bash your way through the brush/sage to reach the highway. Walk N up the highway for 0.1 mile to the Colston Creek Access/Campground and continue N another 0.4 mile to reach the parking pullout. The West Gully Route should only be used as a descent route. The upper half of the gully would be quite difficult to ascend.

Additional Resources

Mountain Range: Lemhi Range

First Ascent Information:

  • Other First Ascent: West Face/Northwest Ridge
  • Year: 2019
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas

Longitude: -113.96549   Latitude: 44.75419

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