Peak 8939 (North Canyon Peak) by Livingston Douglas

Elevation: 8,939 ft
Prominence: 639

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This peak is not in the book. Published November 2018

Peak 8939 is the highest peak in the North Canyon area and oversees the canyon from the north. It has an elongated north-to-south summit cap. The easiest ascent route is via its north ridge from Meadow Creek Road/FSR-425 (or Skinner Canyon Road/FSR-403) at the head of the Meadow Creek drainage, requiring only 650 vertical feet of ascent. Meadow Creek Road is the more vehicle-friendly approach. USGS North Canyon

South Ridge, Class 2


From the junction of US-89 and ID-36 in Ovid, drive west on ID-36 for 8.0 miles, just passing the hamlet of Sharon, ID. Turn right/north onto North Canyon Road/FSR-425 (signed for an obsolete Boy Scout Camp) and drive 5.7 miles to a junction with FSR-951/South Fork Road on the left/south side. Drive 50 yards on FSR-951 and park in an open meadow. The elevation at the parking area is 7,405 feet. North Canyon Road/FSR-401 is an excellent dirt road and is suitable for passenger vehicles.

The Climb

From the junction of FSR-401 and FSR-951, bushwhack north through a concoction of aspens, blowdown, and thick veg. After ascending for about 200 vertical feet, angle left/northwest across an easy, dry, grassy gully to reach the rounded base of the south ridge. Work your way up the ridge in mostly open terrain, staying just to the right/east of the ridge crest. Unfortunately, you must bushwhack up through thick scrub with no game trails and few gaps in it. The open terrain even had blowdown in it, which had cascaded from trees on the ridge crest. There are a few short sections of easier terrain higher up, but not much.

When you reach 8,700 feet, the going gets easier as the ridge narrows and opens up. The terrain from here to the summit is a combination of stable base rock and short veg. Stay near the ridge crest for the least taxing ascent. The ridge seems to go on FOREVER. It’s like you’re never going to get to the top. The slope is so gradual that you can’t see the true summit until you’re almost there. The true summit is a ground boulder that sticks about two feet out of the surface. I built a small cairn atop it, as there was no existing cairn. The summit area is a mix of boulders, small fins, talus, and scrub. Not very impressive. In looking down from the summit, you can easily spot Skinner Canyon Road to the north, near the base of the north ridge. It is only just over a mile away.

West Face/West Ridge, Class 2


Same as for the south ridge. Easier access to the summit can be attained by driving up either Meadow Creek Road/FSR-425 from its junction with North Canyon Road/FSR-401 and scrambling up the easy Class 2 north ridge from the 8,291-foot level. Meadow Creek Road is located 4.8 miles up North Canyon Road and is a signed, right/north turnoff. Another easy way to the summit is via the Highline ATV Trail/FST-316. Follow FST-316 up from North Canyon Road to an 8,220-foot saddle east-southeast of the summit, then scramble about ¾ mile and just over 700 vertical feet to the top via the east face.

The Descent

This route is the FULL WEST RIDGE via Point 8846. It ends at North Canyon Road in a flattish saddle area at the base of the north face of Peak 8316. From the summit of Peak 8939, descend west then northwest on wonderful open field grass (staying north of scattered pines on the west face) to reach a large “summit meadow” at 8,660 feet with four high points surrounding it (Peak 8939, Point 8881, Point 8878, and Point 8846). Reach the meadow at an equally-wonderful saddle of field grass at the south end of the large meadow. Unfortunately, all of this sappy wonderfulness is about to end.

From this open saddle, you must either climb up over Point 8846 to the west or skirt its south side. You don’t save much elevation gain by skirting its south side and the south side has a thick patch of aspens in an intervening gully, so the best option here is to simply climb up to the top of Point 8846 and then follow the ridge west then southwest then south from there. The same ugly patch of aspens forces you to scramble west-northwest up a slope of desert scrub (not too bad) to get onto the ridge at a point a bit north of Point 8846. Once on the ridge, follow it southwest to Point 8846, dropping 60 feet to a saddle en route. Point 8846 has remnants of a cairn on its rocky, open summit. The ridge climb to the top of Point 8846 is of medium difficulty and includes a mix of trees and desert scrub.

From Point 8846, follow the ridge crest west, staying near the ridge crest on its [easier] forested north side. The ridge becomes more rounded and less distinct as you descend and, worse yet, the forest gets thicker and you start to lose your visuals. But here’s the key to staying on course. There is an obvious gully to the right/west of the ridge. Be sure to stay out of that gully and descend left/south pretty sharply, quite a contrast to the westerly direction that got you to this area. Use the summit of Peak 8316 as a guide. Aim straight at it because it is due south and will keep you on course.

The final descent south to North Canyon Road is down a shoulder that turns into a face as it approaches the road. The terrain is a very unpleasant mix of thick scrub, aspens, willows, and blowdown. Bash your way through this awfulness to emerge on the smooth, well-traveled North Canyon Road. If you plan to also climb Peak 8316 today, this is the launch point for the north face/north ridge of that peak.

Additional Resources

Mountain Range: Bear River Range

First Ascent Information:

  • Other First Ascent: South Ridge
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas
  • Other First Ascent: West Face/West Ridge -Descent
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas

Longitude: -111.56649   Latitude: 42.41889

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