Elevation: 9,660 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published December 2019
Peak 9660 overlooks Smithie Creek and the upper reaches of Sawmill Creek. Of the 9,000-foot peaks in this area, it has the most prominence and also offers the best rock scrambling opportunities. It’s not just another forested hump. The easiest ascent route is via the Smithie Creek Trail and the North Face. USGS Iron Creek Point
East Face/South Ridge, Class 2+
Date of Climb: July 13, 2019
From the convergence of Firebox Creek and Sawmill Creek at 7,950 feet, bushwhack N out of the Sawmill Creek drainage and onto a face. Once on the base of the face, bushwhack NW then W up to the South Ridge of Peak 9660. The terrain on the East Face is rocky and is clogged with blowdown and new growth pines. This is a tiresome, seemingly endless, struggle. Once on the South Ridge, scramble N up the ridge for a good ½ mile through some rocky ridge outcrops (early), blowdown, and embedded talus. There are a few short sections of easy gravel/pine duff, but not much.
The final push to the summit is a dogleg L/W to the true summit area. Peak 9660 has two potential summits. The East Summit is a large boulder or two hidden among fir bushes on a ridge crest with pine trees nearby. The West Summit is an open, rocky outcrop/hump with a small cairn on it. The West Summit is probably the high point, but it’s a close call.
FULL South Ridge (Descent), Class 2+
Same as for the East Face/South Ridge Route. This is the final leg of a loop route that begins and ends along Sawmill Canyon Road.
From the summit, descend back down the South Ridge, weaving endlessly to navigate through downed timber. The uneven terrain (due to embedded talus) is tedious. Farther down the ridge, scramble through or around a series of rocky ridge towers and outcrops. Below the rocky ridge outcrops, descend a slope of loose talus/scree. The slope changes to a combination of thick brush and downed timber in a burn area.
Finally, reach a flat field of sagebrush at the base of the South Ridge. Go R/W here to intercept the Smithie Creek Trail. Cruise down this old road to reach a signed road/trail junction. Go R/W at this junction and cross Smithie Creek on a vehicle bridge. Soon after that, reach the road closure gate at the top of FSR-101/Sawmill Canyon Road. Hike down FSR-101 to your parked vehicle.