Peak 8740 (Independence Hill) by Livingston Douglas

Elevation: 8,740 ft
Prominence: 520

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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, Peak 8740 rarely sees visitors. If there is a standard ascent route for Peak 8740, it is via its 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. USGS Cache Peak

North Ridge, Class 2


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

The Climb

At Elba Pass, there is a junction with FSR-728/Independence Lakes Road (a left/south turn that is signed “Independence Lakes”). Hike (or drive) for ¾ mile to a sharp right/west turn in the road at a junction with Stinson Creek Trail. Walk straight/south on an unsigned jeep track briefly to reach the base of the north ridge in a dry drainage. Bushwhack south up through a short section of forested terrain (mostly aspens) to reach the open terrain on the northwest 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 right/west 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 south for about 200 vertical feet initially, then southeast for 650 vertical feet, then south 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 south 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+


Same as for the north ridge

The Descent

The summit of Peak 8740 offers a good view of the descent south-southeast 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 the 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. The only consolation is that it is only a ½-mile descent with just over 500 vertical feet of drop.

From the summit, descend diagonally southeast to reach the northeast 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 right/south 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 southwest to reach this area. The open area has a cattle fence, large cairn, and minimal scrub.

The cattle trail in the center of the saddle is actually a Forest Service trail (FST-012), but you could have fooled me. I found no trail farther northeast in the saddle area, so I’m not sure if it exists in the drainage that descends northeast from the saddle area. I later did see (from the upper reaches of the northwest face of Mount Independence) a clear trail heading northwest from the saddle up to another saddle that sits southwest 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 Forest Service 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.

Additional Resources

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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