Elevation: 9,703 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 9703 is the high point on a ridge that separates Blind Canyon from Scott Canyon. This ridge connects to the West Ridge of Italian Peak (10,996 feet). Though not as high as its northerly neighbors, Peak 9703 towers over 2,000 vertical feet above Scott Canyon. The easiest ascent route is via the Southwest Ridge in open terrain. The views from the open summit are fabulous. USGS Italian Canyon
Southwest Ridge, Class 2
Date of Climb: August 28, 2019
From the junction of ID-28 and ID-33 in Mud Lake, drive N on ID-28 for 42.5 miles to [signed] Nicholia Road. Nicholia Road is located 6.1 miles N of the Kaufman Picnic Area on ID-28. Turn R/NNE onto Nicholia Road and drive 3.1 miles to an unsigned junction with a dirt road that runs southward at the base of the mountains. Drive 4.5 miles S on this dirt road to reach an unsigned L turn for Scott Canyon. You have reached Scott Canyon Road. Reset your odometer. At 0.3 miles, enter the Targhee National Forest. At 1.8 miles, you reach Blind Canyon (signed). Park here on a side road (7,353 feet).
The toe of the Southwest Ridge is at the mouth of Blind Canyon. From your parking spot, bushwhack N up onto the obvious ridge through sagebrush. The ridge is initially rounded. It then has a narrow section with rocky outcrops on it. The ridge initially heads NNE. It then bends R-ish and climbs NE all the way to the elongated, mostly-forested summit area.
Grind your way up the ridge crest, which is mostly open scrub early on. The terrain morphs into a mix of pine forest, mountain mahogany, rocky outcrops (which can be skirted on the L/NE side of the ridge in open forest), and some open areas of sagebrush. Higher up, the forest is easier than the clogged ridge crest, though there is some deadfall to work around.
The summit area of Peak 9703 is deceiving. It is still forested, so your visuals are limited. You might think that you have reached the summit (while still in the forest, where the ridge levels off and even drops slightly), but you probably haven’t. Continue working your way up the ridge crest until you reach an open area of ridge crest. The summit high point is in n an open area of broken rock and short scrub. There is a decent summit cairn there. Look for it. The visibility from the summit is superb
Northeast Ridge/East Shoulder (Descent), Class 2
Same as for the Southwest Ridge Route
From the summit, cruise NE then E along the summit ridge to reach Point 9648 in an area of scattered pines. From here, descend NE in easy pine forest to about 9,350 feet. Bushwhack due E to find an elusive “shoulder” on the L/N side of a prominent gully. Descend the forested shoulder just L/N of its ridge crest. Keep descending straight downhill and due E. When you occasionally have visuals, aim for the fork in Scott Canyon. The junction of two hiking trails is there.
The forest descent is now moderately steep. It is an open forest with some blowdown to skirt and with decent open areas of scrub/brush with a gravel base. This area goes quickly. As you approach the canyon floor, you are pushed L/N to avoid ugly rocky pinnacles/buttresses below you. Descend a short, steeper section of forest to reach the canyon fork and the trail junction. Follow FST-006 southward down Scott Canyon to return to the trailhead and FSR-190. Hike down FSR-190 to your parking spot.