Elevation: 7,980 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 7980 is located above the North Fork of Williams Creek. It has a gentle, magnificent south ridge that weaves around a bit before reaching its toe at the Williams Creek Picnic Area along Williams Creek Road/FSR-021. This is a great ridge climb in open terrain with no thick forest, no blowdown, and no creeks to ford. USGS Lake Mountain
South Ridge, Class 2
Shoup Bridge is located 4.3 miles south of the Salmon-Challis National Forest Service office in Salmon, ID. Turn right/west onto the road that crosses Shoup Bridge. After about a mile, the road takes a sharp left/south turn (signed with a large arrow). At 2.4 miles, go straight at a signed road junction for Williams Creek Road/FSR-021. At 3.9 miles, the pavement ends. At 4.9 miles, enter the Salmon National Forest. At 6.9 miles, go straight at a signed road junction [FSR-028/Williams Creek Road goes left here]. At 9.0 miles (exactly at MM9), reach the Williams Creek Picnic Area/Powder House Gulch trailhead on the left side of the road. Pull into the large trailhead parking area and park under the wonderful shade trees. The elevation here is 6,065 feet.
Leave the trailhead parking area and cross to the north side of Williams Creek Road. You are now at the toe of the south ridge of Peak 7980. Bushwhack north up a steep sagebrush/grass hill. Cross a dilapidated cattle fence and quickly find a good cattle trail heading right/east. Follow the cattle trail across a dry gully. Leave the trail on the other side of the gully to bash through thick, tall sagebrush to reach the south ridge which is up and to your right/east-ish.
There is an obvious headwall to your northeast that makes access to the south ridge a challenge but you must conquer it. The headwall is a combination of brush/sage and loose scree/gravel. As you climb it, move to the right/east for better footing. When you pop out on the gentle south ridge, you will be ecstatic. The hard work is over. The rounded ridge goes northeast then north up through moderate sagebrush. Higher up, the terrain changes to an easy combination of short grass/scrub and some scattered pines.
Continue north up the ridge to a forested hump (Point 7750) where the ridge turns left/northwest. It is critical to remember Point 7750 because when you descend, you must make a critical right/south turn here. From Point 7750, drop about 35 vertical feet and use a well-beaten cattle trail to skirt the left/southwest side of Point 7710. The ridge bends left/west here and drops to a minor saddle. From the saddle, bash west-northwest up through the thick sagebrush (weaving required) to reach Point 7885. From that point, descend northwest about 10-15 feet to reach a final saddle. From this saddle, climb north up a sagebrush hill to reach the summit of Peak 7980.
The summit of Peak 7980 is an open hump of short sagebrush and embedded talus. There is a torn-down cairn on top, which I rebuilt. There is lots of old elk poop on the upper section of the south ridge. Do they winter here? When you descend, retrace your steps and remember the critical twists and turns that are endemic to the south ridge.