Elevation: 7,541 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 7541 is one of three ranked summits at the northernmost end of the Caribou Range. It is the highest of the three peaks and sits above the Nelson Creek drainage. The other two peaks are Mount Baldy (7,388 feet) and Peak 7489. The easiest ascent is from the Nelson Creek drainage up the west ridge. USGS Point Lookout
West Ridge, Class 2
Antelope Creek Road/FSR-037 is located 13.0 miles north of the Swan Valley junction (of US-26 and ID-31) and 24.4 miles east of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest Office in Idaho Falls. It is signed with a simple street sign and heads due south from US-26. Reset your odometer at the base of Antelope Creek Road.
At 3.1 miles, go left at a junction. At 6.1 miles, go straight at a junction. At 6.9 miles, reach the Caribou National Forest Boundary and a cattle gate. There is a shaded campsite to the left here and a large parking area. At 7.7 miles, reach a small trailhead parking area along Antelope Creek. Park here (6,387 feet).
From the Antelope Creek trailhead parking area, cross Antelope Creek on a bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, leave the road/trail and climb east up the right edge of the forest. The initial steepness eases and the face/shoulder opens up. The bushwhack up to Point 6894 is miserable and thick, whether in open terrain or on the forest’s edge. The brush here is thick, tall, and awful.
Point 6894 is a narrow, open, rocky outcrop. From that point, do a downward traverse through thick scrub to a critical ridge saddle northeast of Point 6894. This saddle has a jeep road (FSR-057) coming up to it from the north. This road continues northeast up the ridge from here. This saddle is the point where the west ridge—Nelson Creek variation route joins the west ridge route. There is a good cattle trail that comes up here from the Nelson Creek drainage and will be used as a descent route.
From the saddle, follow the jeep road northeast then east on the ridge crest briefly. Leave the road to climb up onto the ill-defined west ridge of Point 7368. You will find a cattle trail to help you in the early stages of this off-trail scramble. Leave the cattle trail and climb up a fairly steep section of face (the brush isn’t too bad here) to reach a flat ridge section at the west end of the plateau with Point 7368 at its east end.
The bushwhack east to Point 7368 and then southeast to Peak 7541 is tedious. But farther along, pick up a good cattle trail (and cattle fence) on the ridge crest to make some faster progress. Conclude this climb with a bushwhack up scrub to reach the small, boulder-and-thick scrub summit of Peak 7541. There is a good-sized cairn atop this peak.
Northeast Face, Class 2
Same as for the west ridge
This is the first leg of a ridge traverse from Peak 7541 and Peak 7489. From the summit of Peak 7541, descend northeast to a forested saddle. Initially, the going is reasonably easy—a combination of short scrub and embedded rock. But the open terrain gives way to a dense forest thick with underlying brush. Visibility here is nil and the blowdown is challenging. Just head northeast and bash your way through it. Cross a dry gully just below a saddle. This is the base of the northeast face of Peak 7541.
West Ridge—Nelson Creek Variation, Class 2
Same as for the west ridge
Return via the west ridge all the way back to the ridge saddle above Nelson Creek. Leave the jeep road on the ridge and follow a cattle trail south down the center of a dry gully. The dry gully merges into a wet drainage heading west then southwest. Follow another cattle trial down this wet gully. Pass two stinky cattle ponds and cross to the left/south side of the small stream immediately after passing the 2nd stinky pond.
Traverse through the forest in a southerly direction to intercept FST-167, an old road. A cattle trail will help you with this final traverse. Follow FST-167 west and downstream to return to the Antelope Creek trailhead parking area. From the saddle on the ridge, this is a significantly easier route than the standard west ridge ascent route.