Peak 8740 (Independence Hill) by Livingston Douglas

Elevation: 8,740 ft
Prominence: 520

This peak is not in the book. Published November 2018


Peak 8740 is almost perfectly positioned between Mount Independence and Elba Pass. It is overshadowed by its neighbor to the southeast, Mount Independence. It is a gentle hill when compared to the heavily-bouldered summit cap and rugged east face of Mount Independence. Unlike its big brother, it rarely sees visitors. If there is a standard ascent route for Peak 8740, it is via the Northeast Ridge from a livestock transfer station/parking area at 7,820 feet on FSR-728/Independence Lakes Road where the road crosses the Northeast Ridge.

Date of Climb: September 21, 2018

North Ridge, Class 2

Access

From the junction of Highway 77 and FSR-548/Elba Pass Road in Elba, ID, drive W up Elba Pass Road (which is called Elba Road in Elba). At 5.7 miles, you reach the Sawtooth National Forest boundary. At 5.9 miles, you reach a junction with Stinson Creek Road (LHS)—there is a nice dispersed campsite about 100 yards up this side road. At 9.7 miles, you reach Elba Pass (7,106 feet). Park here.

Route

At Elba Pass, there is a junction with FSR-728/Independence Lakes Road (a L/S turn that is signed “Independence Lakes”). Hike (or drive) for ¾ mile to a sharp R/W turn in the road at a junction with Stinson Creek Trail. Walk straight/S on an unsigned jeep track briefly to reach the base of the North Ridge in a dry drainage. Bushwhack S up through a short section of forested terrain (mostly aspens) to reach the open terrain on the NW flank of the North Ridge of Peak 8740.

The desert scrub (mostly sagebrush) is thick here but there are lots of short segments of cattle trails to help you make upward progress, albeit with weaving required. The ridge crest is ill-defined and rounded in this lower section, with a noticeable gully on its R/W side. Stay on or close to the ridge crest as the terrain is shorter, easier scrub with a rockier base than on the sides of the ridge. The North Ridge climbs S for about 200 vertical feet initially, then SE for 650 vertical feet, then S for the final 700 vertical feet.

Higher up, the terrain is a mix of forest and open areas of scrub with blowdown to circumvent. The gentle, open summit has a decent cairn on the high point and an impressive 5-foot cairn at a lower point to the S on the narrow summit ridge. If you plan to climb the Northwest Face of nearby Mount Independence, you have an excellent view of it from here.

Southeast Face, Class 2—DESCENT

Access

Same as for the North Ridge Route.

Route

The summit of Peak 8740 offers a good view of the descent SSE to the long, wide, 8,220-foot saddle that separates Peak 8740 from Mount Independence. Unfortunately, the view is unsettling. It is difficult to see the saddle because of thick forest that surrounds it, mostly aspens. The [dry] drainage to the north of the saddle is clogged with aspens and must be avoided. The final section of the Southeast Face is densely forested as well. This descent is not likely to be a fun experience. I suppose that the only consolation is that it is only a ½-mile descent and just over 500 vertical feet of drop.

From the summit, descend diagonally SE to reach the NE end of the long saddle area. Battle your way through steep desert scrub high up then scramble through a mix of aspens, boulders, and blowdown lower down. If you err, err by bending R/S as you approach the saddle. When you finally reach the saddle, you will find lots of cattle trails and an open area in the middle of the saddle. You must bushwhack then walk SW to reach this area. This open area has a cattle fence, large cairn, and minimal scrub.

The cattle trail in the center of the saddle is actually a FS trail (FST-012), but you could have fooled me. I found no trail farther NE in the saddle area, so I’m not sure if it exists in the drainage that descends NE from the saddle area. I later did see (from the upper reaches of the Northwest Face of Mount Independence) a clear trail heading NW from the saddle up to another saddle that sits SW of Peak 8740 at 8,340 feet. So that section of trail (which is FST-513) does exist. The bottom line here is to be very skeptical about FS trails shown on the Sawtooth National Forest/Minidoka Ranger District Map in this area, as well as trails shown on the USGS topo map. Don’t count on any of them being there (or being follow-able) for very long. Plan on bushwhacking in this area.

Climber Trip Reports

Mountain Range: Albion Range

First Ascent Information:

  • Other First Ascent: North Ridge
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas
  •  
  • Other First Ascent: Southeast Face -Descent
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas

Longitude: -113.69169   Latitude: 42.21539

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