Elevation: 9,006 ft
This peak is not in the book. Rick Baugher climbed the peak in 2014 and found evidence of an earlier ascent. Rick’s route to the summit block is not clear. Livingston has provided the definitive guide to reach this interesting summit. Published November 2018
Peak 9006 is the sister peak of Midnight Mountain. Its summit is a jumble of massive blocks and is at least a Class 3+ endeavor, quite a contrast to the walk-up summit terrain on Midnight Mountain. I doubt that many have stood on the slanted, exposed block that is the high point of Peak 9006. When viewed from the open South Ridge, the summit block looks like a Class 5 endeavor. Thankfully, it’s not.
Please note that the USGS topo map fails to show FSR-1288 which goes from Dry Basin over to the west side of Midnight Mountain, where it intersects FST-329 which connects to Mahogany Basin via Green Pass. The map also fails to show the Highline ATV Trail/FST-316, which runs along the West Face of Peak 9006. These are critical omissions. Both FSR-1288 and FST-316 are shown on the most recent NFS map for the Montpelier/Soda Springs Ranger Districts. USGS Midnight Mountain
West Face/South Ridge, Class 3+
Date of Climb: September 15, 2018
Snow Hollow Road/FSR-444 is located on the east side of ID-36 exactly 4.7 miles south of Emigration Pass. The road is signed and has a large pullout parking area alongside the highway. The elevation at the junction of FSR-444 and ID-36 is 6,775 feet. Park here because there no parking at the Snow Hollow Trail/FST-499 which is located only 1/8 mile up Snow Hollow Road.
From the junction of ID-36 and Snow Hollow Road/FSR-444, hike up FSR-444 for 1/8 mile to a signed junction for the Snow Hollow ATV Trail/FST-499. At this junction, go STRAIGHT. At about ½ mile up from the highway, you reach a [marked] trail junction. STRAIGHT is FST-342; RIGHT is FST-499. Go RIGHT here to remain on FST-499. Just over a mile from that junction, the trail descends 275 vertical feet to cross the headwaters of Mink Creek. The trail subsequently ascends up onto the West Face of Peak 9006 and flattens out at about 8,200 feet.
Look for an open slope on the West Face. Leave the trail and climb up the steep face through moderately-thick desert scrub with some gaps (but no game trails) in it. As you bash your way up the slope, you will cross the Highline ATV Trail/FST-316 (not shown on the USGS topo map). You eventually reach the forested, upper section of the West Face. At this point, the true climb begins. The terrain instantly changes into a mess of large whitish boulders, firs, aspens, veg, and blowdown. Scramble up this Class 3 section of the face to reach the summit ridge, which lies 200-250 vertical feet above you.
After reaching the summit ridge just SW of the summit blocks, you still have 100 vertical feet of ascent remaining. Just getting to the base of the final summit blocks is a chore. Initially, follow the South Ridge northward in open terrain on gravel/sand and ground boulders. Unfortunately, that easy terrain doesn’t last for long. Now, you must bushwhack N then E to reach the final summit blocks. The terrain here is simply dreadful. It is a mix of car-sized, behemoth boulders with gaps between them that are filled with veg, small firs, aspens, and blowdown. Remain on the L/W side of the summit blocks to make any progress. The R/E side of the summit blocks is riddled with cliffs and large drop-offs.
It’s difficult to tell which boulder is highest as you maneuver your way through this maze. You will eventually reach a boulder-strewn area on the ridge crest between two MASSIVE blocks/boulders that are about 25 feet apart. The block to the front and left of you is the NE block; it is NOT the high point. The block behind you and to your right IS the high point. Scramble to the right and then right again to skirt the E side of the massive, overhanging summit block (the SW block). You must walk directly underneath the overhanging block (while standing on another massive boulder/block) to reach its SW side, which is the only viable way to access the top of the block. Once on its SW side, scramble up to its gentle flat top.
But watch your step. The gaps between these massive blocks are not a place you want to fall into. From a distance, you would not expect to be able to stand atop this summit block safely, but you can. Sometimes looks are deceiving. There were no signs of previous ascent, so I built a 2-stone cairn using the only large pieces of talus I could find near the summit block. Mr. Altimeter measured the SW block at 5 feet higher than the NE block. I looked for an alternate way to climb the SW block directly from the SW, but only ran into sharp drop-offs from the gigantic blocks/boulders. To descend, retrace your route back to the open, boulder-strewn gap between the SW block and the NE block.
South Ridge, Class 3+ —DESCENT
Same as for the West Face/South Ridge Route. This is part of a ridge traverse from Peak 9006 to Midnight Mountain. An easier access route is via FST-329 that crosses over Green Pass at the base of the South Ridge.
This route is almost entirely Class 2, except for the summit blocks which are Class 3+. From the summit blocks, descend W then S through the maze of blocks/boulders, aspens, small firs, and blowdown to reach the open terrain on the E side of the South Ridge. The entire upper section of Peak 9006 (the top 200 vertical feet) is strewn with whitish-colored boulders. You must navigate through a combination of scrub and boulders to finally rid yourself of the boulders at about 8,800 feet. For the next 200 vertical feet of descent, enjoy a relatively easy ridge of open scrub. The ridge bends L/SE in this section. If you plan to climb Midnight Mountain next (as I did), take a little time to examine the NW face and NE ridge of the peak while you are here in open terrain with a wonderful vantage point.
When the open terrain turns into forest, your joy will be terminated. Your objective is to reach Green Pass (8,139 feet), but it is virtually impossible to pinpoint exactly where it is. You just can’t see it, especially after you enter the forest. However, you CAN see the summit of Midnight Mountain to the SSE. Use that summit as your guide. From the top of the forest at 8,600 feet, the ridge heads SE initially then bends noticeably R/S. To make matters worse, the ridge becomes very ill-defined. On top of all of that, the forest is thick with aspens, pines, blowdown, and veg. Not fun stuff.
Bash your way down through this awfulness. If you err, err on the side of going a bit too far L/E because Green Pass is pretty open terrain on the NE side of the pass. When you reach Green Pass, you will find FST-329 (an ATV trail) passing through it. From the openness of Green Pass, you have a good view of the summit of Midnight Mountain and its northwest aspects. Should that be your next objective, this is the place to do your last-minute recon. There is a North Spur on Midnight Mountain that is particularly enticing. It is well up the Northwest Face and it is beautiful.
Mountain Range: Bear River Range
First Ascent Information:
- Other First Ascent: West Face/South Ridge
- Year: 2018
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
- Other First Ascent: South Ridge -Descent
- Year: 2018
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
Longitude: -111.58539 Latitude: 42.29401