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
Date of Climb: September 10, 2019
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 L/N at a stop sign then R/E 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 L/N 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 E up the road to find a faint 2-track jeep road on the L/N 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 NE 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 2-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 NE along the undulating ridge in open terrain of scrub and ground boulders, a rather tedious task. Descend N 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 N, skirting the W 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 W 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 2-boulder cairn atop the highest boulder.
South Face (Descent), Class 2
Same as for the South Horseshoe Ridge Route.
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 SW over a shoulder on the S 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 S about 30 to 40 feet to exit the hollow and the forest to reach open terrain on the S side of the hollow. Once in the open sagebrush, angle R/E 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 SW along the road and cross a shoulder. Continue to follow the road as it bends L/SE and contours along the West Face of Point 6884. The road then bends R/S 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 2 cattle fences and reach FSR-407 about 100 feet E of the Cache National Forest boundary. Walk W along the road briefly to reach your parked vehicle.