Elevation: 7,467 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2018
The easiest ascent route for South Sulphur BM is its Northwest Ridge via the junction of North Sulphur Canyon Road and South Sulphur Canyon Road. It is on beautiful, wide-open terrain (desert scrub). Unfortunately, this route is almost entirely on private land. Although I did not see any “NO TRESPASSING” signs at this junction, given the recent change in Idaho’s private property laws, you should obtain permission from the landowner before attempting this route. Yes, you are likely to occasionally smell sulphur on this summit and in the canyon itself. USGS Johnson Creek
Southeast Ridge, Class 2
Date of Climb: September 9, 2018
Same as for the Southwest Ridge Route on Sulphur Peak. This route is part of a ridge traverse from Sulphur Peak.
From the road junction at 6,610 feet, follow FSR-126 up South Sulphur Canyon for about 0.7 miles to a road junction at a fork in the canyon (6,900 feet). LEFT is FSR-126; RIGHT is FSR-177 (unsigned). Go RIGHT here onto FSR-177 and hike up it for about 0.5 miles to another road junction (7,175 feet). LEFT is FST-243 (an ATV trail); STRAIGHT is FSR-177.
Go STRAIGHT here on FSR-177 and follow it to a road junction up on the ridge (7,875 feet). LEFT is FSR-177; RIGHT is FSR-583. Go RIGHT onto FSR-583 (signed). This old road morphs into an ATV trail (FST-238) pretty quickly and climbs southward to cross Point 8055, requiring a 150-foot gain in elevation. From Point 8055, the ATV trail descends westward and drops almost 100 feet. It reaches an unmarked junction on the ridge crest. LEFT is an unmarked, two-track jeep road that follows the ridge crest heading west toward South Sulphur BM. RIGHT is a continuation of the ATV trail and, I believe, is FST-238 which begins its descent to the canyon floor, ending at the terminus of the [short] dirt road that you parked along to begin this hike. Since there are no signs for FST-238 up on the ridge, I can’t be sure of this, but the NFS map suggests that it is.
From the unmarked junction on the ridge, go LEFT onto the weak two-track road and follow it westward along the open ridge crest. At this point, you will think that it is going to be a simple cruise to reach the summit of South Sulphur BM (which is quite visible from here). Unfortunately, you are wrong. This route is going to become very challenging once the two-track road goes back into the forest. None of these roads or trails show up on the USGS topo map, so navigation becomes a real problem. You just don’t know where the road/trail is going to end up.
Continue to follow the two-track road westward down the ridge to a saddle (7,225 feet). The road then climbs up over a ridge hump, requiring a 60-foot gain in elevation. The road then descends through the forest to reach an unmarked road junction at a minor saddle in a grassy area (7,075 feet). Go R/W at this junction. After about a 10-minute walk down this two-track road, the road ends in a meadow with a stinky cattle pond on your left. The elevation here is only 6,700 feet. The good news is that there is open terrain (rather than thick forest) to your R/NW that leads you up onto a ridge. That ridge is the Southeast Ridge of South Sulphur BM.
Bushwhack through open scrub (lots of cattle trails here) to reach the ridge. You will find a decent cattle trail on the ridge crest that will lead you to the top of South Sulphur BM. There is, however, one section of aspens that must be crossed at just below 7,000 feet. Bash through this slight side-hill terrain to once again reach open terrain and the ridge crest. The ridge traverse from Sulphur Peak is VERY LONG and it is made longer by the fact that the ridge crest (and a large area around it) is impossibly clogged with thick aspens. You have NO CHOICE other than to follow the old two-track road as far as you can to get close to the final section of ridge.
The summit of South Sulphur BM has a pristine USGS BM in concrete in the ground with a small, broken-down cairn. I rebuilt the cairn so it is now respectable.
Northeast Shoulder/Face (Descent), Class 2+
Same as for the Southwest Ridge Route on Sulphur Peak. This route descends to the canyon floor and returns to the parking area on a side road near South Sulphur Canyon Road at 6,610 feet.
This route is a direct descent to the canyon floor and requires a serious bushwhack through thick forest and blowdown. The areas of aspen trees are particularly challenging. It is not recommended as an ascent route.
From the summit, descend eastward 100 vertical feet on the summit ridge. From this point, descend NE through steep scrub (briefly) then bash your way through thick aspens with lots of deadfall. The aspens are eventually replaced with mature pines, but the bushwhacking still requires navigating through a lot of blowdown in the forest. The final 200 vertical feet of descent to the road is a section of wickedly-thick aspens. Finish the descent in a gully to the L/W of the shoulder to avoid the ugly rock buttresses that compose the toe of the shoulder. By the time I reached the road, my knees were bloody from the scrapes and pokes that the aspens subjected me to. Once on the road (South Sulphur Canyon Road), follow it 0.8 miles SE to reach the unmarked road junction and your vehicle.
Mountain Range: Peale Mountains
First Ascent Information:
- Other First Ascent: Southeast Ridge
- Year: 2018
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
- Other First Ascent: Northeast Shoulder/Face -Descent
- Year: 2018
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
Longitude: -111.48539 Latitude: 42.63429