Elevation: 7,470 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2018
Peak 7470 is one of three scrub-covered hills above the large meadow at the confluence of the mouths of all three of the Sulphur Canyons (North, Middle, and South). Peak 7389 and Peak 7631 are the other two hills. All three of these ranked summits are visible from the junction of North Sulphur Canyon Road and South Sulphur Canyon Road. I unofficially call them The Three Sisters. USGS Johnson Creek
South Ridge, Class 2
From the stoplight at the junction of US-30 and South 3rd Street in Soda Springs, drive east on Highway 30 for 3.9 miles to a signed turnoff for “Sulphur Canyon.” Turn L/NE onto Sulphur Canyon Road and reset your odometer to 0.0. At 1.2 miles, you reach an unsigned road junction with a parking area nearby (on the LHS of the road). Park here. The elevation at this junction is 6,100 feet.
This climb begins on North Sulphur Canyon Road, an unmarked dirt road that heads northeast up North Sulphur Canyon. Please note that the USGS topo map inaccurate labels another road going due N as “North Sulphur Canyon” road, but that is incorrect. This hike is entirely on BLM land so there are no NFS road signs/markers on this road. North Sulphur Canyon Road is a narrow dirt road that climbs steeply over a rocky hill about ¾ mile from the parking area. This road is not suitable for passenger cars.
Hike up North Sulphur Canyon Road for just over a mile to an unmarked junction with an old two-track road on the left at the base of a prominent dry gully. There is a small meadow here with numerous cattle/sheep trails. The large gully heads northward directly at the summit of Peak 7470. It is a viable Class 2 route to climb Peak 7470.
From this junction at the base of the gully, you can launch three separate climbs: the south ridge of Peak 7470, the southeast ridge/south spur of Peak 7470, and the west face of [nearby] Peak 7389. It is important to realize that the summit of Peak 7470 is NOT on the west side of the gully. The summit is above the north end of the gully. Here is how to reach the summit via the south ridge.
From the road junction, bushwhack west up steep, thick desert scrub to reach the south ridge. Once on the ridge (which is rather ill-defined until a few hundred feet higher), follow a good game/sheep trail on the ridge crest in open desert scrub all the way to the narrow summit ridge. This narrow ridge section has two false summits on it, one of which has a decent cairn on it. This ridge section is a mix of talus/scree and short scrub.
There are four (4) potential summits for Peak 7470. According to the USGS topo map, all four summits are above the 7,400-foot contour interval. Summit #1 is at the south end of the narrow ridge crest and is clearly NOT the high point. Summit #2 is at the north end of the narrow ridge crest and, with a cairn atop it, should be the high point. However, the large summit area to the northeast of this point appears to be higher. It turns out that my altimeter measures this summit as five feet lower than the large summit area to the northeast, confirming what a visual observation suggests.
To reach the true summit area (as indicated by LOJ), you must follow the ridge northeast, dropping 70 feet to a brushy saddle along the way. Bash your way up through desert scrub for 75 vertical feet to reach the large summit area at Summit #3. This summit is at the south end of the larger summit area and is a mix of forest and open scrub. The actual high point is a clump of willows.
But is Summit #3 the high point? There is a 4th potential high point just to the north of Summit #3. It is located about 100 yards to the north and is not visible from Summit #3. You must drop slightly and bushwhack through a patch of aspens/veg to reach it. A cattle trail will help you here. When you reach Summit #4, it is an open hump of sagebrush and talus/scree. My altimeter measures it of equal height to Summit #3. Since there was loose talus/scree to work with, I built a modest cairn on the high point here. Stand on both Summits #3 and #4 to be sure that you’ve bagged this one. There were no signs of previous ascent.
Southeast Ridge/South Spur, Class 2
Same as for the south ridge.
Peak 7470 has a beautiful southeast ridge that curls southwest as it descends to the canyon floor. After ascending the south ridge, this descent route makes a perfect loop. From Summit #4, return S to Summit #3 on the open, south edge of the ridgeline. Follow the ridge southeast then south then southwest to return to the canyon floor at the unmarked road junction that sits at the base of the prominent gully that splits the south face of Peak 7470. This ridge descent is initially on a pleasant combination of scree and short scrub. However, as you approach the final drop to the canyon floor, you reach a very unpleasant, flat section of thick, tall scrub and willows. Bash your way through this garbage to make the final steep descent down the nose of the ridge to the road junction that awaits you. You will find several sheep trails on this nose to ease your descent.
If you plan to climb nearby Peak 7389/Middle Sister, you get a fantastic view of the northern and western aspects of the peak as you descend the southeast ridge/south spur of Peak 7470/North Sister. That visual encouraged me to change my ascent route from the [planned] north ridge to the northwest face. The northwest race has much more open terrain than the tree-clogged north ridge, though the northwest face is a steep endeavor. This is called “last-minute” recon but, as a mountain climber, you must do it. I was able to establish the exact line up the northwest face from my vantage point on the southeast ridge/south spur of Peak 7470.
Regions: Aspen Range->Peale Mountains->SOUTHERN IDAHO
Mountain Range: Peale Mountains
First Ascent Information:
- Other First Ascent: South Ridge
- Year: 2018
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
- Other First Ascent: Southeast Ridge/South Spur -Descent
- Season: Spring
Longitude: -111.66729 Latitude: 42.66729