This multi-peak climb and ridge traverse covers three peaks in the Lemhi Range on the west side of Morse Creek. The peaks are discussed in the order in which they are climbed: Peak 9785/Wade Creek Point, Peak 10263, and Peak 9319/Wade Creek Ridge. This journey covers 15.5 miles and entails 6,750 feet of elevation gain. It is mostly off-trail and, with the exception of a few Class 2+ ridge sections, is of Class 2 difficulty. There are superb views from the summits of Peak 9785 and Peak 10263 and the connecting ridge between those two peaks makes for a magnificent alpine scramble. USGS May Mountain
All of these peaks are accessed from Morse Creek Road. Morse Creek Road/FSR-094 is located exactly 10.2 miles south of US-93 on the [paved] Pahsimeroi Highway. From the signed turnoff on the east side of the highway, drive 4.3 miles to the Challis National Forest boundary. At 6.5 miles, reach the end of Morse Creek Road at a trailhead parking area (6,290 feet). This is the trailhead for the Morse Creek Trail/FST-4072.
Peak #1 (Peak 9785/Wade Creek Point)
Hike up FST-4072 (an old jeep road) on the left/northwest side of raging Morse Creek for about 1-1/2 miles to a fording of Cold Creek. There are some wet logs and rocks to help you cross this creek on foot, but bring hiking poles in order to maintain your balance for this crossing. From the north side of Cold Creek, leave FST-4072 and begin the steep uphill climb to Peak 9785. The south ridge is quite steep initially, but the forest isn’t too bad. The slope soon eases and the forest opens up. The terrain quickly becomes stable, broken scree with scattered pines and not too much blowdown. Higher up, ridge rock requires scrambling (Class 2+) but is enjoyable. Very high up, scramble up a section of loose, steep talus/scree to the summit of Peak 9785.
Peak #2 (Peak 10263/Paramor Peak)
From the summit of Peak 9785, follow the ridge crest northwest to a saddle (9,284 feet) then up over Point 9457. From Point 9457, descend west to another saddle at 9,180 feet. This saddle is the low point between Peak 9785 and Peak 10263. From this saddle, scramble west-northwest up the ridge to the small summit of Peak 10263. The ridge terrain is forested initially, with lots of tedious blowdown. The upper part of the ridge has lots of rock bands/strata to circumvent or climb over (Class 2+).
Peak #3 (Peak 9319/Wade Creek Ridge)
From the summit of Peak 10263, return east-southeast to the 9,180-foot saddle. Climb east back up over Point 9457 and descend a short distance southeast to find a shoulder heading northeast to the connecting saddle with Peak 9319. Bushwhack down through open pine forest to that saddle. From the 8,820-foot saddle, bushwhack northeast through open pine forest to reach the crest of the south ridge. Once on the ridge, stay near the ridge crest to avoid the worst of the blowdown. The footing is decent on relatively stable scree/gravel. Follow the ridge north to the flat, elongated summit area. Continue north to reach the high point of Peak 9319.
From the summit of Peak 9319, return south to the 8,820-foot saddle. From the 8,820-foot saddle, scramble southwest straight up through a steep pine forest to intercept the northwest ridge of Peak 9785. Follow the rocky ridge crest southeast to the summit of Peak 9785. Descend southeast on a shoulder of steep, loose talus/scree/gravel in open terrain then in semi-open terrain with scattered pines. The southeast shoulder bends right/south as you descend toward the valley floor and becomes more of a face descent.
The terrain is still steep but it goes quickly and the forest is open enough to retain good visuals. When you reach the valley floor, cross a wet drainage. Jump across a small stream and climb south up onto a shoulder to quickly intercept FST-073. Follow FST-073 down to Morse Creek. Ford the creek (shallow and wide) then follow a weak 2-track jeep road through field grass to get back to FST-4072 and another fording of Morse Creek. Follow FST-4072 back to the Morse Creek trailhead parking area.
To sum up, this multi-peak adventure begins with a climb of the south ridge of Peak 9785. Descend the northwest ridge to a saddle then climb the southeast ridge of Peak 10263. Return to the saddle at the base of the southeast ridge. Climb east back up over Point 9457 and descend a short distance southeast to find a shoulder heading northeast to the connecting saddle with Peak 9319. Bushwhack down through open pine forest to that saddle and climb the south ridge of Peak 9319. Return to the connecting saddle and climb the northeast shoulder and northwest ridge of Peak 9785. Descend the southeast shoulder of Peak 9785 to reach the valley floor. Follow Forest Service trails back to the Morse Creek trailhead.