Elevation: 8,098 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2018
There are two unnamed peaks that straddle Rattlesnake Canyon. Peak 8098 is located on the south side of the canyon. It separates Rattlesnake Canyon from Big Canyon. It is a seldom-visited summit that sees more hunters and shepherds than hikers. Its cohort, Peak 8140, is located on the north side of Rattlesnake Canyon. It separates Rattlesnake Canyon from Jones Canyon. I unofficially call Peak 8098 “Rattlesnake South” and Peak 8140 “Rattlesnake North” to differentiate the two summits. I saw no rattlesnakes on either summit or in Rattlesnake Canyon. USGS Harrington Peak
Northeast Ridge, Class 2 —STANDARD ROUTE
Date of Climb: September 11, 2018
From the Mormon church in the center of Georgetown, ID, drive N on US-30 for 5.6 miles to a gravel pit that is located about 0.1 miles N of an active gas plant on the R/E side of the highway. Turn R/E into the gravel pit area and find a dirt road on the L/N side of the gravel pit. Ignore the “State Land: Keep Off” signs. Just be sure to stay on the dirt road, which is legal. Follow the dirt road NE then E toward the mountains. At 1.5 miles, you enter the Caribou National Forest. At 1.6 miles, the road forks.
LEFT is Rattlesnake Canyon Road/FSR-097, a narrow, overgrown, unmaintained dirt road—not advised for anything but ATVs and MCs. STRAIGHT is Big Canyon Road/FSR-129 which is suitable for passenger cars at least 1.7 miles up the road where you reach a large meadow and camping area. Beyond that point, I can’t speak for the road condition because this is as far as I drove up it. I suspect that is probably suitable for passenger cars all the way to the 7,740-foot pass that it crosses on its way over to Rattlesnake Canyon because the roadbed at the pass is smooth and in excellent condition. You may need 4WD to climb up to the pass.
The easiest ascent route for Peak 8098 is via its Northeast Ridge. Hike (or drive) up Big Canyon Road/FSR-129, which ascends partway up Big Canyon then makes a sharp L/N turn to climb up to a 7,740-foot pass that separates Big Canyon from Rattlesnake Canyon. From the 7,740-foot pass, leave FSR-129 and scramble SW up the ridge to the small, rocky summit. More details on this route are provided in the Northeast Ridge (Class 2)—DESCENT route section.
Northeast Ridge (Descent), Class 2
Same as for the West Ridge Route. This descent is part of a ridge traverse from Peak 8098 to Harrington Peak.
From the summit, descend the Northeast Ridge initially on some talus/scree. You will find a good sheep trail to help you. The NW side of the ridge crest is dense, steeply-angled pine forest and should be avoided. The SE side of the ridge crest is more manageable, open desert scrub. The Northeast Ridge is just over a mile in length and only descends 350 vertical feet to a 7,740-foot pass. The ridge is a mix of open desert scrub (sometimes easy, sometimes thick and tall), minor sections of forest (generally not too bad), patches of aspens and willows (not fun), a few ridge humps, and a narrow ridge point (Point 7872). There are no serious rocky outcrops to deal with. The ups and downs are as follows (from the summit to the pass): DOWN 350 feet, UP 115 feet, DOWN 105 feet, UP 85 feet, then DOWN 130 feet. There is a massive round-ish rock cairn just E of Point 7872. I believe that hunters built it.
When you reach the 7740-foot pass, you will find Big Canyon Road/FSR-129 crossing it. This is a remarkably smooth dirt road in the middle of nowhere, which is unusual. If you are doing a ridge traverse from here to Harrington Peak via Rattlesnake Canyon, as I was, this road is a GODSEND. I wasn’t sure that it would even be there!
West Ridge, Class 2
From the Mormon church in the center of Georgetown, ID, drive N on US-30 for 5.6 miles to a gravel pit that is located about 0.1 miles N of an active gas plant on the R/E side of the highway. Turn R/E into the gravel pit area and find a dirt road on the L/N side of the gravel pit. Ignore the “State Land: Keep Off” signs. Just be sure to stay on the dirt road, which is legal. Follow the dirt road NE then E toward the mountains. At 1.5 miles, you enter the Caribou National Forest. At 1.6 miles, the road forks. Turn LEFT onto Rattlesnake Canyon Road/FSR-097 and park in a grassy area at the base of the road. FSR-097 is a narrow, overgrown, unmaintained dirt road—not advised for anything but ATVs and MCs. The elevation at the grassy parking area is 6,315 feet.
From the grassy parking area at the base of Rattlesnake Canyon Road/FSR-097, hike about ¼ mile up the road to the [obvious] West Ridge of Peak 8098. Leave the road and climb up through thick desert scrub to reach the ridge crest. The south side of the ridge is open desert scrub that domesticated sheep love to munch on. The north side of the ridge is dense pine forest and must be avoided.
Follow the ridge crest (or the R/S side of it) on a good sheep trail to 7,800 feet, where the trail disappears. You might see a herd of sheep on the south-facing slopes of this ridge. If you do, beware of the guard dogs. I did not see any sheep, but there was fresh sheep poop littering the ridge crest in several sections, so they had been here either the prior day or night. Scramble up the ridge crest for the final 300 vertical feet on a mix of talus/scree and short scrub to reach the small, rocky perch that is the summit of Peak 8098. The summit has a nice cairn atop it.