Sheep Mountain 9858

Elevation: 9,858 ft
Prominence: 1,478

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Climbing and access information for this peak is on Page 320 of the book. Livingston Douglas has provided the extensive update found below. Updated July 2019

It seems as though every Idaho mountain range is required to have at least one “Sheep” Mountain. This is the Beaverhead Range’s entry. USGS Shewag Lake

Sheep Mountain viewed from N Mountain.

Sheep Mountain as viewed from N Mountain.

Sheep Mountain Update by Livingston Douglas 

Montana Access

From Big Hole Pass, drive 4.8 miles on FSR-624 to a junction with FSR-944. Alternatively, from MT-43, drive 12.9 miles W on FSR-624 to the aforementioned junction. Turn S on FSR-944 and drive 5.1 miles to a junction with FSR-7364. Turn S on FSR-7364 and drive 0.9 mile to a somewhat deep creek ford of Moose Creek. Park just before the creek ford (6,880 feet). This is where the road hike begins. If you have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, you can ford Moose Creek and drive almost 3 miles up FSR-7364 then FSR-7363, at which point the road is gated and closed to motorized vehicles (7,200 feet).

If you lack a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, cross Moose Creek on a beaver dam located about 50 feet downstream from the jeep road crossing. Follow FSR-7364 about 0.3 mile to a road junction; go left here onto Moose Creek Road/FSR-7363. After hiking about 4-1/2 miles, the road ends in a meadow and the Moose Creek Trail begins (7,320 feet).

Southwest Ridge via Meadow at Base of South Face, Class 2+

Moose Creek Trail is generally weak and poorly maintained. I lost the trail in about 2 miles in heavy blowdown at about 7,600 feet near the creek. I could not find the trail after that, so I bushwhacked diagonally upward (W) but struggled to make progress in the thick forest. I decided to climb directly upward (NW) to get to treeline, hoping to find easier terrain. Once I got to treeline, I was at the base of the steep, rocky face of the East Ridge of Sheep Mountain. Now I was able to make good progress on the talus west then northwest.

I soon scrambled up over a headwall and knew what awaited me: the bliss of a gentle tundra/grass meadow sitting at the base of the South Face. I cruised across the meadow to reach the base of the Southeast Face of the 9,240-foot saddle on the Southwest Ridge of the peak. Scrambled up the talus/scree (mostly talus) slope to reach the 9,240-foot saddle.

The saddle was more of a notch than a saddle and had plenty of krummholz and boulders. This is why I did not attempt the 2-mile ridge traverse from Pyramid Peak; the ridge is tiresome and quite time-consuming. From the saddle, climbed up the Southwest Ridge just to the climber’s R/SE of the ridge crest to avoid the unpleasant krummholz. Thankfully, the terrain opened up and it was a boulder-hop to the rocky but gentle summit.

Descended the same route, except that I purposely descended SE from the bottom of the lovely meadow at the base of the South Face. This line brought me down through easier forest and dumped me right onto the Moose Creek trail at a point that was a good 200 vertical feet above the creek. The trail soon dropped down near creekside into heavy blowdown. Lost the trail briefly, but managed to pick it up some distance beyond the area of severe blowdown. Followed the weak trail back to Moose Creek Road/FSR-7363 and then hiked back to the main road/FSR-7364 and, soon after that, was back at the parking area just before the road fords Moose Creek.

This was a 15-mile, 6-1/2 hour hike with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. If Moose Creek Trail were better maintained, this wouldn’t be a bad way to climb Sheep Mountain. The alternative routes (2-mile ridge traverse from Pyramid Peak to the S or 5-mile forested ridge traverse from the N) are no picnic, either. Choose your poison.

Additional Resources

Mountain Range: Beaverhead Range

Longitude: -113.76049   Latitude: 45.48011

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