Peak 9245 (Saint Charles Peak) by Livingston Douglas

Elevation: 9,245 ft
Prominence: 225

Climbing and access information for this peak is found on page 366. The book provides information for ascending the peak from the west. Livingston Douglas climbed and descended the peak from the east.  Published October 2018


Date of Climb:  August 24, 2018

Northeast Ridge, Class 2

Access

Drive up Bloomington Canyon Road/FSR-409 from Highway 89 at the south end of Bloomington, ID. At 7.9 miles, turn LEFT to stay on FSR-409. At 8.2 miles, turn LEFT onto [signed] FSR-457 and drive 0.3 miles on this narrow dirt road to its end at a parking area for the trailhead for the Horse Flat Trail/FST-312.FST-312 is a MC trail, so it is narrow and not optimal for hikers. In late summer, the South Fork of Bloomington Creek is still a sizable creek (unlike the bone-dry North Fork and Middle Fork).Thankfully, as of this writing, there is a good footbridge across the South Fork a short distance upstream from the trailhead. No sandals or boat required. The trailhead elevation is 7,440 feet.

Route

This route follows trails to Worm Lake, bushwhacks westward up onto the Northeast Ridge, and then follows the Northeast Ridge to the summit. Here is a more detailed description of the route.

From the 7,440-foot trailhead, hike (or ride a MC) up the R/W side of the South Fork of Bloomington Creek on FST-312. It soon turns hard L/E and descends to cross the South Fork on a good footbridge. After crossing this footbridge, you must navigate rightward through an awful patch of wet mud that goes briefly upstream. The mud patch soon ends after passing through some creekside willows as the trail turns L/E to climb steeply out of the South Fork drainage. Follow the steep, narrow trail as it climbs to a small saddle just above, and W of, Horse Flat. This saddle has an elevation of 8,340 feet and a large cairn at its crest. It offers a magnificent view of Horse Flat to the east. FST-312 continues eastward down to Horse Flat. It is about 1-1/2 miles from the trailhead to this saddle.

About 50 feet before reaching the 8,340-foot saddle, you will see a cairned (but otherwise unmarked) trail heading R/S up the ridge. This is the Worm Lake Trail/FST-336, another [narrow] MC trail. Apparently, this trail is no longer maintained by the NFS, but it receives enough use from MCers, horses, and cattle to keep it in usable condition. Follow Worm Lake Trail for about 1-1/4 miles, where it reaches the N side of Worm Lake. Please note that, due to the topography in this area, Worm Lake Trail has its ups and downs (380 feet in extra uphill roundtrip). And, unlike what the NFS and Trails Illustrated maps indicate, there are NO OTHER TRAILS at Worm Lake (e.g., Worm Creek Trail, Limekiln Trail). Worm Lake Trail ends at the N end of Worm Lake and the only other trails here are cattle trails going every which way. There is a decent cattle trail that skirts the E side of Worm Lake if you wish to reach the S end of the lake.

From your position on the Worm Lake Trail at the N end of the lake (don’t go all the way to lakeside), you can see the impressive Northeast Ridge of Saint Charles Mountain. The east wall of the ridge is rather intimidating. While the USGS map fails to show any trail leading to Worm Lake, it DOES show the topography of the Northeast Ridge. You can circumvent the steep east wall by scrambling up onto the ridge via a gentle slope that begins on the N side of Worm Lake.

Leave the trail and bushwhack NW then W through thick desert scrub (not much fun) with some minor undulations and a few short patches of trees. Although it only requires just over 200 feet of uphill to reach the Northeast Ridge, you must bushwhack a solid ½ mile to reach the ridge. This is a bit tiresome. Once on the ridge, stay on the L/E side of the ridge crest in open terrain for the easiest going. The desert scrub here is much easier than the scrub down by the lake. There are a few short sections where the open forest on the ridge crest (and to the R/W of it) is a better option (not much blowdown).

Higher up the ridge, it is important to climb SW (not S) to avoid passing by Saint Charles Mountain and ending up at a saddle at the head of the Worm Lake basin and underneath the [higher] Peak 9276 to the E. Once again, paying attention to the USGS topo map is critical here. The summit high point is to the R/W and is a rather unimpressive rocky bump on the W side of the ridge. However, the view down to Bloomington Lake is breathtaking. And, unlike the Bloomington Lake Trail, here you have no crowds to bother you. I suspect that more cattle visit this summit than hikers. You are also rewarded with a splendid view of massive Bloomington Peak if you plan to climb that ranked summit. There was nothing on the summit (no cairn, no register).

Southeast Ridge, Class 2 —DESCENT:

Access

Same as for the Northeast Ridge Route.

Route

From the summit of Saint Charles Mountain, descend SE in open veg. Move to the L/E edge of the forest when the trees appear. Apparently, mule deer bucks like the solitude up here because I saw 3 of them on the forest’s edge as I did this descent to the connecting saddle with Peak 9276. The view down the steep, almost sheer, East Face is impressive. Worm Lake seems way off in the distance, but it’s only a mile to the NE. The 9,020-foot saddle is only a bit over 200 feet below the summit of Saint Charles Mountain. The Southeast Ridge is easy Class 2 and is a quick assignment. If you are planning to also climb nearby Peak 9276, the Southeast Ridge will give you a good look at the best line to establish to bushwhack up through the steep forest to the summit of that peak.

Climber Trip Reports

Mountain Range: Bear River Range

First Ascent Information:

  •  
  • Other First Ascent: Northeast Ridge
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas
  •  
  • Other First Ascent: Southeast Ridge —Descent
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas

Longitude: -111.56569   Latitude: 42.14101

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