618. Elkhorn Peak, Idaho

Elkhorn Peak, Idaho

Well it appears to be a right proper mountain, prominent from the highway connecting Pocatello, Idaho to Salt Lake City, the 2nd highest in the Bannock Range, Elkhorn Peak. Truth be told though, there’s a forest road that gets you to a saddle and you take an easy walk in the park Class 2 ridge line up. Walk in the park?? They rarely are that way.

June 20th, 1973

This mountain has some history. June 20th, 1973 hikers in the Bannock Range found a plane wreck and 5 bodies. I’m assuming those bodies weren’t among the living. It’s deadly. Well at least to a smaller prop job plane in the early 70’s which I’m guessing weather and bad charts and maps and nav were at play. I’ll try to avoid the ghosts up there or at least be chill and respectful enough it won’t be an issue. ;0)

From Home to Peak

Just a mere hour haul from casa de la paz el loco Swinney-oh, Middleton, Idaho and bam… your there, overnighter in the Durango with two pups, get up the next day and climb… well hike, but climb sounds more sexy.

Do NOT follow that white dotted line… Bad, Bad!!
The Route

Supposedly you go as far as you can on the road driving. Sounds like it gets narrow and rough, typical of mountain roads around these parts. We’ll see how far can be driven. Then there’s an actual trailhead of sorts where a “use trail” begins. What that is is not a trail at all but cross country where enough people and deer have traveled it that in some sections it’s apparent and in some it just peters out. The nav looks mildly interesting as there’s a two-point outcropping to get around, a few false summits, then you are there, bam, on top of their world.

Here’s an old ATV you can see along the way.
Clear View of the 9 Foot tall summit cairn.

So some surveyors made it up to do some triangulation and mapping in 187-something and built that cairn that stands there today. That’s something ain’t it? Here’s the scoop from the internets:

“In 1877, Henry Gannett and A.D. Wilson of the Hayden Survey used this summit and about 35 other eastern Idaho summits in their triangulation scheme. They called this peak ‘West Malade Peak’ and assigned a barometric elevation of 9,220 feet. The USGS benchmark in place is dated 1934 and is stamped ‘South Elkhorn.’ T.M. Bannon’s Elkhorn station is to the north, seen on the right in the photo. The summit of Limestone is crowned with a beautiful, well-constructed 9-foot high stone monument. The sheer East Face of the mountain drops off from this point and is ‘Tetonesque’ in appearance. A pleasant circular hike, part trail, part cross-country, can be done from the east side of the mountain, starting above the Forest Service Campground.”

It’s got some prominence. Maybe 3-4K from the valley below, it’s the highest point around, it’s a class 2 doable with the retrievers… what could possibly go wrong??

Here’s info on the route:

Summit Post
The Route, Elkhorn Peak
Dean’s Trip Report

And Tom Lopez’ even has an entry in his awesome book so I’ll take that along.

A Climbing Guide, Tom Lopez

Elkhorn Peak, Idaho. A good thing?? We’ll see on Saturday

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