Elevation: 10,512 ft
Climbing and access information for this peak is found on page 310. A new route up the Southwest Ridge is the first route set out below. Farther down the page you will find two more difficult routes (likely a first ascent and first descent) submitted by Livingston Douglas. Updated December 2019
Sunny Bar Peak is seldom climbed despite the fact that an ascent to its summit is a quintessential Lemhi Range climb. The route described in the book climbs the South Ridge from Fallert Springs. USGS Fallert Springs
Southwest Ridge, Class 2
The peak’s wandering and complicated Southwest Ridge is best accessed via the Rocky Run Creek drainage. A 4WD vehicle with high clearance is necessary to drive this road. 15.3 miles north of Howe, a County Road leads from the Little Lost River Highway to the start of the rugged, steep two-track road that leads into the canyon. It’s 5.4 miles from the highway to the road’s end.
Once inside the canyon, you will find a sign for “Rocky Run Creek.” There are two spots here that are level enough for small tents. The road continues up the canyon gaining another 500 feet of elevation to a spot where it crosses the creek. Park here at 7,100 feet. You may find a spot in this area level enough for a tent.
From this point, you will see a broad rib descending toward you from the Southwest Ridge. Ascend this rib. As you climb, you will start finding game trails, some of which are exceptionally well developed. You can either continue to climb the 1,000+ feet to the top of the ridge or start contouring up toward the right on one of the many elk trails you encounter. In any case, you need to get to the top of the ridge at some point before you reach the 8,200-foot contour. From this point, the ridge is well defined as it jogs north for a bit and the turns northeast toward the summit. At times, you will find good elk trails leading you up and, at other points, the trails zig-zag across the ridge. Please note that although the route is rated Class 2 you may encounter some Class 3 moves depending on how you choose to climb the summit block.
At the 8,400-foot contour, there is a rocky formation blocking the ridge crest. Pass it on its north side by side-hilling across a talus field. Continue on up the ridge to tree line, where you will find another rocky section that is also passed on its north side. The summit is just above this point.
Northeast Ridge and South Ridge/East Spur Routes by Livingston Douglas
Northeast Ridge, Class 3+
The Northeast Ridge of Sunny Bar Peak is a rugged, narrow ridge with exposure and multiple Class 5 towers. It should not be taken lightly. From the 10,060-foot connecting saddle, almost immediately you must skirt past 1-2 rocky ridge towers (not shown on the map) by dropping 50-60 vertical feet onto the R/NE side of the ridge. Surprisingly, in late June, there are lingering snowfields in the gullies on the W-facing side of the ridge. The steep snow makes the ridge diversion more problematic. After passing the towers, scramble back up onto the ridge crest at an easy gravel section.
The steep gullies and aretes on the side of the narrow ridge crest are so awful that it is best to stay on the ridge crest proper and work the towers one by one. You will get up to about 10,450 feet, only 60 vertical feet below the summit, but the summit is still a long way off. Keep working the ridge towers until you reach an impasse at an impossible gap in the ridge. Downclimb 135 vertical feet on the R/W side of the ridge. Work your way across a few gullies to find a solid quartzite arete with bomber holds.
Return close to the ridge but beware of loose quartzite scree and unreliable holds on other aretes here. Skirt below the final large tower/block and scramble up a scree/gravel chute to a minor saddle. This puts you on the gentle, but rocky, summit plateau. According to the USGS topo map, the true (measured) summit of Sunny Bar Peak is at the north end of the summit area. You will find two rocky ridge points of equal height here, but no summit cairn or any signs of previous ascent.
Follow the ridge crest S about 0.2 miles to the [larger] South Summit area. You must drop about 60 vertical feet to a minor saddle on your way to the South Summit. The South Summit had a torn-down cairn, so I rebuilt it atop a quartzite boulder. Altimeter measurements show that the South Summit measures 5 feet higher than the [measured] North Summit, but that’s just too close to call. Stand atop both potential summits, just to be sure. The ridge traverse between them is not difficult.
South Ridge/East Spur, Class 3
Same as for the Northeast Ridge Route. This is the final leg of a loop route that begins and ends at the mouth of Uncle Ike Canyon.
From the summit, the upper part of the South Ridge looks rocky and rough, and it is. This is not Class 2 terrain. Work your way down through rocky outcrops and a few ridge humps. Downclimb Class 3 chutes and ledges as necessary to make progress. This is a tedious endeavor. Once below the rocky upper section, the slope eases and lichen-covered quartzite boulders take over. It takes a half-hour of hard work just to reach Point 10179. Continue S on the ridge for a short distance past Point 10179 to find the top of a forested shoulder that heads L/E off the ridge to descend to the valley floor. The forest is thick here, so it’s hard to find (and stay on) the correct shoulder. Worse yet, there are two parallel shoulders here, both heading downhill to the valley floor and Ike Creek.
I intended to descend the northern of these two shoulders and was initially on it, but ended up moving SE (as the shoulder is supposed to angle) too early and ended up on the rougher, steeper, southern of the two shoulders. A prominent gully separates these two shoulders farther down the face. Well, I made my bed, so I must lie in it. Follow the south shoulder SE then E to reach the valley floor. The terrain is Class 3 in spots—steep boulder fields, rocky outcrops. Lower down, there is a section of easy pine forest. As you approach the valley floor, the shoulder/spur is clogged with mountain mahogany. You will be quite relieved to reach Uncle Ike Creek, jump across it, and reach the ATV road/trail. Follow FST-4341 back to the Challis NF boundary and your parked vehicle.
Mountain Range: Lemhi Range
Year Climbed: 2015
First Ascent Information:
- Other First Ascent: Northeast Ridge
- Year: 2019
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas
- Other First Ascent: South Ridge/East Spur —Descent
- Year: 2019
- Season: Summer
- Party: Livingston Douglas