Sheep Mountain 9858

Elevation: 9,858 ft

Climbing and access information for this peak is found on page 320. Livingston Douglas has provided the extensive update found below.


It appears that every Idaho mountain range is required to have at least one “Sheep” mountain. This is the Beaverhead Range’s qualifier.

This peak served as a triangulation station for surveyor T.M. Bannon. Rick Baugher Photo

This peak served as a triangulation station for surveyor T.M. Bannon. Rick Baugher Photo

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 or from Montana Highway 43 drive 12.9 miles W on FSR 624. 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′). This is where the road hike begins unless you have a high clearance 4WD, you can ford Moose Creek and drive almost 3 miles of the 4-1/2 miles, at which point the road is gated and closed to motorized vehicles (7,200′).

If you do not have a 4WD, cross Moose Creek on a beaver dam located about 50′ 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′).

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′ 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 steep, rocky face of the East ridge of Sheep Mountain. Now I was able to make good progress on the talus W then NW. 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 S face.
Cruised across the meadow to reach the base of the SE face of the 9,240′ saddle on the SW ridge of the peak. Scrambled up the talus/scree (mostly talus) slope to reach the 9,240′ 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 SW ridge just to the climber’s right/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 S 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′ above the creek. The trail soon dropped down near creekside and the 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′ 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.

 

Mountain Range: Beaverhead Range

Longitude: -113.76049   Latitude: 45.48011

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