Elevation: 6,970 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 6970 is a ranked summit that lies on the west side of the primary ridge of the Bear River Range. It towers over Mink Creek and ID-36 to the west. It is one of several ranked summits that sit above the ranch land to the west but below the big mountains to the east. The sagebrush-and-rock combo makes for tedious cross-country scrambling and the forested areas are quite thick. Peak 6970 is not a simple walk-up. Given the surrounding private property, the peak must be approached from the south or east. USGS Mink Creek
South Horseshoe Ridge, Class 2
Birch Creek Road/FSR-407 is located along ID-36 just south of the turnoff signed for “Mink Creek.” It has a simple street sign and is easy to miss. From the north/east, Birch Creek Road is located 26.7 miles from Ovid, ID, on ID-36. From the south, Birch Creek Road is located 7.0 miles north of the junction of ID-34 and ID-36.
Once you turn east onto Birch Creek Road, the road is paved and does a quick jog left/north at a stop sign then right/east almost immediately thereafter. Pay attention to the street signs here. At 1.3 miles, the pavement ends. At 1.7 miles, there is a large parking/turnaround area. The road gets narrower and rougher now. At 2.3 miles, you cross a cattle guard/fence and enter the Cache National Forest (signed). Park in a small pullout on the left/north side of the road here at a small dispersed campsite (5,600 feet).
From the Cache National Forest boundary on FSR-407, walk about 100 feet east up the road to find a faint 2-track jeep road on the left/north side of the road. Leave the road here and follow the old 2-track road northward. After crossing two cattle fences, the road leads to a grassy cattle meadow positioned at the base of the steep southwest face of Point 6884. Climb northeast up this face of grass/scrub and scattered junipers to reach the surprisingly rocky west ridge of Point 6884. This ridge is clogged with brush and mountain mahogany, making navigation through the talus/boulders quite cumbersome.
The summit of Point 6884 has a two-boulder cairn atop the highest ground boulder. You now have a good view of the remaining route leading to the top of Peak 6970. It is a ridge traverse that is shaped like a horseshoe, as it works its way around the head of Peterson Hollow. From the top of Point 6884, scramble northeast along the undulating ridge in open terrain of scrub and ground boulders, a rather tedious task. Descend north through a short section of thick forest (cattle trails help here) to reach an open scrub/grass saddle. This is the first of two saddles that you must cross in order to reach Peak 6970.
From this saddle, follow a cattle trail that contours north, skirting the west side of another ridge hump, to reach the second saddle (Saddle 6660). This saddle sits at the head of Peterson Hollow. From this saddle, follow the ridge west to the gentle summit of Peak 6970. The terrain on this ridge/slope is a combination of scrub and ground boulders, with a few rocky outcrops to skirt along the way. The summit has a two-boulder cairn atop the highest boulder.
South Face, Class 2
Same as for the south horseshoe ridge
From the summit, descend the south face, aiming for the mouth of Peterson Hollow. Peterson Hollow is forested in its center/drainage, so attempt to reach the hollow at a point where you can cross the hollow with minimal forest to contend with. The south face descent is surprisingly tedious. It didn’t look too bad from a distance (from the summit of Point 6884) but looks can be deceiving. The face is a tedious mix of scattered junipers, tall field grass, and large ground boulders/talus. The junipers are often in clumps, requiring some serious weaving effort. The open areas of short scrub have a loose gravel base.
The good news is that the descent of over 900 vertical feet goes rather quickly. On the descent, recon your route to the [visible] trail/road that heads southwest over a shoulder on the south side of Peterson Hollow. That old road is your ticket home, so make sure you find it after you cross Peterson Hollow. Once you reach Peterson Hollow, bushwhack through a short section of easy pine forest (and a dry creek bed). Climb south about 30 to 40 feet to exit the hollow and the forest to reach open terrain on the south side of the hollow. Once in the open sagebrush, angle right/east to intercept the old road.
The old 2-track jeep road is shown as FST-361 on the Cache National Forest map, but it does not appear on the USGS topo map. Hike southwest along the road and cross a shoulder. Continue to follow the road as it bends left/southeast and contours along the west face of Point 6884. The road then bends right/south and drops into the grassy cattle meadow where you were earlier in the day. Pick up another old 2-track jeep road in the center of the meadow as it follows a wide gully southward toward FSR-407/Birch Creek Road. Cross two cattle fences and reach FSR-407 about 100 feet east of the Cache National Forest boundary. Walk west along the road briefly to reach your parked vehicle.