Red Peak Benchmark

Elevation: 9,571 ft
Prominence: 1,691

Climbing and access information for this peak is found on page 122. Updated and more detailed information is set out below. Published 2015


Red Peak Benchmark is the highest summit found in a large, remote area east of Yellow Pine, Idaho and west of the Middle Fork Salmon River. The peak sits on a ridge line between Murphy Peak and Red Peak.The view from the top is endless and includes the Lick Creek Range, Big Baldy Peak, Pinnacles Peak, the Sawtooths and White Clouds and North and South Twins as well as everything in between.

Red Peak Benchmark from the top of the last step on its northern ridge.

Red Peak Benchmark from the top of the last step on its northern ridge.

Before, I discuss the route here is some information on names in this area. On page 122 I discussed two Red Peaks which are found on a ridge line running south from Murphy Peak. The map makers evidently had the name “Red” tattooed on their minds when they named features in this area. The name Red Peak was given to a peak just south of the higher peak identified by the map makers as Red Peak Benchmark and the name Red Ridge was a name given to an adjacent ridge that runs east from Red Peak Benchmark. Red Ridge contains two notable unnamed peaks and just south of Red Peak there are two more worthy summits. Interestingly, none of these peaks look red to me. Anyway, on to climbing this beautiful peak.

When I wrote the book, the only information I had on these peaks was that the peaks were remote, that hunters often hunted mountain goats along these ridges and that the ridge was walkable. I was fascinated by this region because of its remoteness and the duplication of peak names. Despite my curiosity, I did not make it to this area until October, 2015.

John Platt and I climbed Red Peak in 2015 by first climbing Murphy Peak and then traversing the long ridge to Red Peak Benchmark. This involved a one way trip of 5.4 miles with 2,700 feet of elevation gain and 1,300 feet of loss. The route drops steeply off of Murphy Peak and then ungulates up and around several high points before it begins a long stair step climb to the summit. It’s a strenuous traverse but not difficult.

This is my GPS track for the climb up Murphy Peak and Red Mountain Benchmark.

This is my GPS track for the climb up Murphy Peak and Red Mountain Benchmark.

A view along the ridge. Section of the north ridge were open and others were forested. Footing varied from easy to ball bearing, lose gravel.

A view along the ridge. Section of the north ridge were open and others were forested. Footing varied from easy to ball bearing, lose gravel.

Where the ridge burned we ran into plenty of downfall.

Where the ridge burned we ran into plenty of downfall.

Once we got above treeline we still had a long way to go.

Once we got above treeline we still had a long way to go.

The entire ridge line is Class 2 albeit a relentless Class 2.

The entire ridge line is Class 2 albeit a relentless Class 2.

Lookin back down the ridge from near the top of the last step.

Lookin back down the ridge from near the top of the last step.

We had hoped to also climb Red Peak but found it was too far away given the shortness of October days. Having climbed Murphy Peak on the way out, we decided to bypass it on the return trip. We followed the ridge back to the base of Murphy and then traversed across its southern sloes to a saddle which sits just above the Thunder Mountain Road. This route was 4.0 miles long, lost 1,778 feet and gained 384 feet. Clearly, if you are not interested in climbing Murphy Peak, this is the best way to Red Peak Benchmark. The traverse was a bit over a mile long and only gained around 200 feet. The footing varied and was at it’s most treacherous the last 200 yards before the saddle.

My GPS track for the return trip.

My GPS track for the return trip.

The approximate line of our hike showing much of the ridge walk and the traverse across Murphy Peak.

The approximate line of our hike showing much of the ridge walk and the traverse across Murphy Peak.

A closer view of the traverse.

A closer view of the traverse.

 

Mountain Range: Central Salmon River Mountains

Year Climbed: 2015

Longitude: -115.20789   Latitude: 44.86729

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