Mountain Range: The Preuss Range
Maps: USGS Meade Peak
Date of Climb: September 5, 2019
This multi-peak climb and ridge traverse includes Shale Point(7,740 feet), Peak 7765, and Peak 7638/Whiskey Flat Peak. The climb begins and ends at a road junction on Crow Creek Road in Snowslide Canyon. These three ranked summits surround the Giveout Historical Site on Crow Creek Road. This endeavor covers 9.0 miles and entails 2,725 feet of elevation gain. It includes road/trail hiking as well as off-trail scrambling and bushwhacking.
Crow Creek Road/FSR-111 is located 6.9 miles east of Montpelier, ID on US-89. Leave Montpelier at the Phillips 66 gas station at the junction of US-89 and US-30. Turn L/N onto Crow Creek Road. At 2.0 miles, pass the upper end of the Montpelier Reservoir. At 4.5 miles, reach a junction with FSR-801 (signed). Park on the L/N side of Crow Creek Road in a pullout about 100 feet before reaching this junction. You are now at the base of the Southeast Shoulder of Shale Point. The elevation here is 6,705 feet.
From the parking pullout, climb WNW up the steep sagebrush slope. For a short stretch, you will find a use/game trail to help. The underlying gravel/dirt is a bit loose. Weave and grind it out to reach much tamer terrain higher up, bending R/NW as you gain altitude. Once you reach the long, South Ridge (the summit ridge), scramble northward for ½ mile to reach the high point of Shale Point. This ridge section is a combination of easy scrub and a scree/gravel base.
From the summit, descend N into a somewhat thick pine forest with lots of dead branches littering the ground. The combination of loose branches and pine needles make for a somewhat slippery descent to the narrow drainage that separates Shale Point from Peak 7765. Visibility is nil in this descent so, depending upon where you pop out of the forest into the drainage, head uphill to reach the small, narrow saddle that joins Shale Point and Peak 7765. You will find a cattle fence here. It runs northward up the ridge crest toward Peak 7765.
From the narrow saddle between Shale Point and Peak 7765, follow a footpath on the L/W side of a cattle fence on the ridge crest until the fence ends. Continue NW then N up the ridge. Thankfully, the scrub is shorter and has more gaps higher up. Pass a false summit (the Southeast Summit) on the way to the true summit (the Northwest Summit), which is 5 feet higher. There is a small cairn on the summit high point.
From the summit, follow the narrow ridge crest NNW for about ¾ mile, dropping to a small saddle and climbing 70 feet up over a ridge point on the way. Thankfully, the terrain here is easy scrub and broken rock. It seems to take FOREVER to reach the end of this flattish summit ridge crest and begin the sharp descent northward to the valley floor. Descend down through a steep pine forest to reach a cattle trail along a small stream.Follow the cattle trail eastward through a marshy area to reach a good jeep road (FSR-114).
Hike along FSR-114 as it winds its way eastward to reach a junction with FSR-111/Crow Creek Road at an area called Whiskey Flat. From Whiskey Flat, leave the road and bushwhack SE up through thick sagebrush to quickly reach the West Ridge. The sagebrush here is tall and requires a lot of weaving to make progress. Follow the brushy ridge NE as it splits two obvious gullies. The ridge doglegs L/N then R/E to circumvent the gully to the R/E and allow access to the summit ridge.
The ridge now heads steeply E and is a tedious climb through thick brush and sage. You will find a deer trail near the ridge crest to help you make any headway here. Higher up, the terrain finally opens up as the slope eases considerably. You reach a false summit (Point 7600+) and will probably think that this is the top (as I did), but it’s not. You still have ¼ mile to go and it’s not an easy route from here.
From here, bushwhack E down through a punishing section of thick aspens to cross a gully and reach a cattle fence and road (FSR-801) to the R/SE [In retrospect, I should have simply gone SE from Point 7600+ to intercept the cattle fence/road and NOT bushwhacked through the awful aspens.] Once on FSR-801, cruise to the semi-open summit of Peak 7638. The summit area is a mix of open gravel/scree and thick sagebrush.
From the summit, follow FSR-801 SW to re-join the fence row. Leave the road where the road heads L/S and the fence row continues SW along the ridge crest. Continue to follow the L/SE side of the cattle fence until it takes a sharp R/W turn and leaves the ridge to follow a shoulder descending westward to the valley floor and Crow Creek Road.
From this departure point, follow the narrow ridge of nettlesome sagebrush to reach a final descent point which drops you down to a flat meadow alongside Crow Creek Road just N of the Giveout Historical Site. This final drop off the ridge is particularly thick with sagebrush. Head in a SW direction for this final bushwhack down to the road. Walk S down Crow Creek Road for about 1-1/2 miles to return to the parking pullout near the junction of Crow Creek Road and FSR-801.
To sum up, this multi-peak climb and ridge traverse begins with a climb of the Southeast Shoulder/South Ridge of Shale Point (7,740 feet). It drops to a saddle via the North Face. From the saddle, the route then climbs the South Ridge of Peak 7765 and subsequently descends the North Ridge to a lateral drainage. From here, it heads eastward to Crow Creek Road via a cattle trail and a Forest Service Road. From a road junction at Whiskey Flat, the journey continues up the West Ridge of Peak 7638/Whiskey Flat Peak. Descend the South Shoulder to reach Crow Creek Road near the Giveout Historical Site. Continue southward on Crow Creek Road to Snowslide Canyon and your parked vehicle.