Elevation: 8,971 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 8971 is the high point of a minor North-to-South ridge that extends from Meadow Canyon south to the head of Keg Gulch. It is actually a bump, albeit a ranked summit, on the LONG North Ridge of Rust Peak (10,759 feet). It does offer superb views of the south aspects of The Incredible Hulk (10,858 feet). Peak 8971 is easily reached via old jeep roads coming up from the Rocky Canyon trailhead. The shortest route is the North Ridge/Northeast Shoulder from the mouth of Meadow Canyon. USGS Diamond Peak
South Ridge, Class 2
Date of Climb: August 31, 2019
Rocky Canyon Road is signed and is located on the W side of ID-28 exactly 11.1 miles N of the N entrance to the Birch Creek Campground, and 2.4 miles S of Nicholia Road. Set your odometer to 0.0 at the junction with ID-28. At 2.2 miles, go R at an unsigned junction (just prior to reaching an antenna installation). At 3.2 miles, go L at an unsigned junction. At 3.4 miles, go R at an unsigned junction. At 4.0 miles, park in a large pullout area on a bench (7,570 feet).
Be sure to have a USGS topo map in order to follow the various jeep roads/tracks necessary to reach the South Ridge of Peak 8971. From the parking pullout, hike W for 0.1 mile to a hilltop. Follow a jeep track R for 50 yards to an unsigned junction. Go L here and descend to the Rocky Canyon trailhead. You must go through a cattle gate on the way [this gate prohibits motorized vehicles]. This trailhead is located in a saddle just below the hilltop.
At the [signed] Rocky Canyon trailhead, there is a road junction. Go straight here on an old 2-track road; do NOT follow the Rocky Canyon Trail. Follow the 2-track road W up a steep hill to reach an “T” junction with FSR-718. Make a note of this unsigned junction because the 2-track road is VERY WEAK here and is easy to miss on your return trip. Go L/SW on FSR-718 here. The old road bends L-ish to head S and reaches a saddle at 7,770 feet (shown on USGS topo map).
From the saddle, continue SW on the old road as it begins to climb up the NE face of Point 8249. Either follow the road to the top of Point 8249 as it goes W then S OR follow a decent cattle trial straight up the slope to the top of Point 8249. A herd of pronghorn antelope use a trail here as well, and you just might see them here. Once atop Point 8249, continue on the jeep road as it drops steeply SW to a saddle.
This saddle has a couple of road junctions. Follow the jeep road that climbs the steep ridge immediately W of the saddle. This road ascends all the way up to a saddle on a prominent ridge (8,660 feet). You are now at the base of the South Ridge of Peak 8970. Leave the road here and scramble NNW to the summit. You will find a weak 2-track road on the South Ridge. Follow it as it ascends the R/E side of the ridge crest then just dies out. Continue NNW on the ridge, dropping 45 feet to a minor saddle. Scramble upward from this saddle to reach the summit of Peak 8971 at the N end of this long (0.8 mile) narrow ridge. The high point is open with scattered trees nearby. It has beautiful views of Bell Mountain, Meadow Peak, the Incredible Hulk, and Rust Peak. The summit has a modest cairn.
East Face (Descent), Class 2
Same as for the South Ridge Route
From the summit, descend E diagonally down the East Face to intercept a shoulder. Follow the shoulder NE to reach FSR-716, which crosses the shoulder at 8,140 feet. The upper terrain on the East Face is easy open scrub with scattered pines. Pass through a short patch of pine forest to reach the shoulder. The shoulder is steeper and includes loose scree, but there is an antelope trail here to assist in the descent to the jeep road.
Follow FSR-716 SE and cross the upper reaches of Keg Gulch. Stay on the road (ignore any cattle trails) as it climbs back to the saddle with the multiple road junctions at the base of Point 8249. Retrace your ascent route back to the Rocky Canyon Trailhead and your parked vehicle 0.2 miles away.