Daves Pass Trifecta by Livingston Douglas


This climb covers three ranked summits near Daves Pass on the east side of the South Hills: Peak 6450/Cave Gulch Peak, Peak 6355/Daves Pass South, and Peak 6675/Daves Pass North. This multi-peak endeavor covers 7.0 miles and entails 2,050 feet of elevation gain. The journey begins at a small pullout/campsite along Coal Banks Creek Road/FSR-681 near tree line and just below Cave Gulch. If road conditions permit, you may be able to drive closer to the base of the first peak, Peak 6450 (Cave Gulch Peak) and shorten the distance of this climb by a few miles. USGS Ibex Peak


From the center of Oakley, ID, drive ½ mile west on the main street to reach a signed left/south turn for “Oakley Reservoir”. This is the beginning of Goose Creek Road, a major north-south gravel road (though it is initially paved in Oakley) running down the east side of the South Hills, east of Oakley Reservoir and Goose Creek. Goose Creek flows north into Oakley Reservoir.

Drive south on Goose Creek Road through the streets of Oakley and continue south, ignoring two right/west turns signed for “Oakley Reservoir.” You do NOT want to go to the reservoir (as you would for Trapper Creek Road). At 8.3 miles, reach [unsigned] Wilson Pass and an unsigned road junction. Go straight/south here. At 15.8 miles, turn right/west onto [signed] FSR-681/Coal Banks Creek Road. The smooth, wide gravel of Goose Creek Road is over and Coal Banks Creek Road is not ashamed to frighten you right from the start as you must drop slightly to ford Goose Creek.

Coal Banks Creek Road is narrow but isn’t too rough for the first 1.5 miles, where you reach an unsigned junction. Go right here to stay on Coal Banks Creek Road. The road gets more rutted and rockier now and has a few moderately steep sections, but it is passable for a 4WD vehicle with decent ground clearance. At 3.7 miles, there is a small pullout area on the left side of the road with a dispersed primitive campsite. Park here (5,600 feet). If road conditions permit, you may be able to continue driving all the way up to Daves Pass.

From the parking pullout/campsite, hike up FSR-681 to the base of the northeast face of Peak 6450. The road has some major twists and turns. Ignore any and all side roads, of which there are a few. Leave FSR-681 as you approach the obvious northeast face of Peak 6450. This departure point should be somewhere in the 5,680-foot to 5,720-foot area. This multi-peak climb begins here.

The Climb

To climb the northeast face of Peak 6450 (Cave Gulch Peak), leave the road and bushwhack across a flat section of tall sagebrush (six feet and higher), crossing a dry stream bed on the way. Thankfully, the tall sagebrush soon ends and the route becomes more of a normal sagebrush scramble. Work your way up the northeast face, staying to the right/north of thicker brush and trees. High up, the slope eases considerably and you reach the tilted summit plateau/ridge. Continue in a southwesterly direction through scattered junipers and scrub to reach the open high point at the southwest end of the long plateau.

Descend the northwest face of Peak 6450 (Cave Gulch Peak) to a saddle at the base of the east face of nearby Peak 6355 (Daves Pass South). This descent involves some boulder-hopping high up then a mix of junipers and sagebrush with a small hill to scramble over on the way to the gentle saddle. From the saddle, scramble up the east face of Peak 6355 (Daves Pass South) through a mix of scattered junipers and sagebrush. The summit cap is a mix of junipers, ground talus, and scrub.

From the northwest end of the summit cap (which I believe is the high point), descend a meandering ridge north then northwest then northeast to reach Daves Pass on a rounded ridge. This ridge is forested with junipers with scrub mixed in. The easiest going is near the ridge crest, as the gullies on either side of the ridge require much thicker, more problematic bushwhacking. Lower down, the terrain opens up and you get help from an old cattle fence and then an old 2-track jeep road.

From Daves Pass, stay on the right/east side of the cattle fence and bushwhack up through tall, thick sagebrush and cross a lateral cattle fence early on. The tall sage gives way to easier scrub and scattered junipers. Weave up through the junipers and scramble up through two easy cliff bands to reach the 3rd and final cliff band. A short, Class 2+ scramble up this one puts you on the summit plateau, at its northwest terminus. The high point here is just east of the northwest end. This point is the high point of Peak 6675 (Daves Pass North), according to my altimeter readings.

From the west summit, hike east-southeast along the summit plateau through a mix of scrub and embedded talus/boulders, a somewhat tedious combination. Visually, the east summit does NOT appear either higher or lower than the west summit. These two potential high points are VERY CLOSE in elevation. The actual topography of the summit plateau does NOT have a noticeable rise up to a higher contour line as the USGS topo map suggests. The east summit is rockier than the west summit. The high point here is a collection of large ground boulders.

The south face is a somewhat treacherous affair. You can get a good look at it from Peak 6355 or from Coal Banks Creek Road/FSR-681. The face is a convoluted mess of thick junipers, boulders, shoulders, and minor gullies. There are also cliff bands mixed in just to make things interesting. There is a section just right/east of the center of the face (when viewed from a distance) that is more open and is workable, albeit a bit tedious. You do NOT want to go too far to the left/east on this descent of the south face since the terrain there is rougher and choppier than the middle of the face.

From the east summit, you must traverse a bit to the east to find a way to downclimb the summit cliff band. Once below the summit cliffs, move back to the right/west to be more in the center of the face and the semi-open terrain there. Work your way down the face through a mix of scattered junipers and scrub/grass, staying right/west of a prominent gully. Lower down, you will reach a shoulder of easy scrub which leads you down near the road. A final bushwhack through thick scrub/sagebrush lands you on the [blessed] jeep road. Cruise down the jeep road to your parking spot. Please note that there are numerous errors and inconsistencies in the Ibex Peak quadrangle with respect to summit elevations and contour lines for these peaks. Please consult the individual postings for these peaks for more details.