Elevation: 11,278 ft
Route information for climbing this Idaho 11er from Antelope Pass is found on page 264. Matt Durrant supplied the additional information and East Ridge route description found below.
Livingston Douglas made the first recorded descent of the peak’s Southwest Ridge in 2016. His route is found at this link: Southwest Ridge, Shelly Mountain by Livingston Douglas
Derek Percoski located a new western access route which provides the shortest access to Shelly Peak: Shelly Mountain West Side Access
Updated October 2018
At 11,278 feet, Shelly Mountain is the highest summit in the White Knob Mountains of Central Idaho. It is also the 65th highest mountain in Idaho. Shelly is a beautiful and symmetrical peak formed of gray and orange colored crumbling rock. The mountain sits on the main crest of the range and is the southernmost of the White Knob 11ers.
Shelly Mountain is most often climbed with neighboring Redbird Mountain, which is only 5 feet shorter, but can be climbed in conjunction with all the range’s 11ers. Even as a climb by itself Shelly is very enjoyable and rewarding. Most of the routes to the summit of Shelly are strenuous class 2 climbs with 3-4,000 feet of gain from base to summit.
The mountain’s rock conditions range from slippery, loose scree to solid blocks in places. Shelly Mountain is off the beaten path and frequently overlooked, as is the entire White Knob range. The main reason for this is that two of the most popular ranges in Idaho lie on either side of it. Everyone sees Shelly from another mountain in the Lost Rivers or Pioneers, but few people actually climb it. Shelly has been climbed in the winter and would probably offer some great backcountry skiing.
The view from the top of Shelly is absolutely stunning. The highest mountains in Idaho can be seen on every side, including all 9 of the Idaho 12ers and the remote eastern Pioneers. On clear days, look for the Albion Range, near Burley, across the Snake River Plain to the south. Look to the north to see White Mountain and the North and South Twins of the Salmon River Mountains. Shelly Mountain is high, wild, and remote and should be on every Idaho peakbagger’s list.
East Ridge, Class 2
Even though the peak is quite remote it is not that hard to get to as long as you have a sturdy vehicle. All of the approaches are rough but nothing too gnarly. As long as you’ve got some good clearance and 4-wheel drive you’ll be fine.
The quickest approach to Shelly is from the east side via Alder Creek Road and Sawmill Canyon. Follow Highway 93 north from Arco until you reach the microscopic community of Darlington. Turn left on Smith road and follow it toward the hills to the west. Eventually it turns to the north and becomes Dove road. Anywhere the road splits always stay to the left (west).
Just past a very remote ranch house, Dove road turns into Alder Creek Road and enters the Challis National Forest. From here on the road gets worse until it deteriorates to an ATV track leading to the 10,000 foot summit at the head of Stewart Canyon. Before the road reaches the intersection where it becomes the ATV track, find a signed turnoff for Sawmill Canyon. This road is very narrow, steep, and rough. Camp soon after you turn off and follow the road on foot.
The road splits eventually. At the split take the left fork, which heads up to a broad sage-covered ridge below Shelly’s east face. Follow this ridge to the top, only dropping off to avoid the large rock towers higher up. Stay to the left and down off the top of the ridge to get past them. After the towers, work back to the ridge and walk to the summit.
USGS Topo: Shelly Mountain