OverviewBad Rock Peak: Lucky 13?
Bad Rock Peak; aptly named for the rotten nature of its crumbling cap, is Idaho’s thirteenth highest summit, and although it sits quietly between Idaho’s SECOND and THIRD highest peaks, and has it’s own distinctive character, it sees very few visitors during the summer climbing season. There are many reasons for its unpopularity, but the top two are; its approach consists of either climbing over the top of Leatherman peak or following the standard route that takes one over and up vast amounts of loose talus and requires a return over the top of Leatherman, or up and out of the depths of Lone Cedar Creek’s upper basin. The other detractor; it’s not part one of the state’s nine summits over twelve thousand feet, and even though it sits between two that are, the fairly short ridge traverse from its summit to Mt. Church is blocked by sections of Class five climbing and has only been crossed a few times by confident and experienced climbers.
There are two standard approaches to the mountain #1 starts from the end of the road in Lone Cedar Creek and requires a fair amount of bushwhacking through willows and thorn bushes in a narrow, steep section of the canyon. Once through the narrows, the only obstacle between you and the saddle is a thousand feet of steep, loose talus that that turns 1000’ into 1,500’ of one foot gained = six inches lost.
The alternate approach through Sawmill canyon adds about ¾ of a mile but it avoids the bushwhack and most of it follows an old forest service trail that extends all the way to the Leatherman pass saddle. (see description below) Peak baggers planning to climb more than the nine over twelve shouldn’t pass up the opportunity of making the class 3 traverse from Leatherman to the summit of this reclusive hulk.
The standard route climbs the North West ridge from the saddle between Leatherman and Bad Rock and involves about 750’ of easy class three scrambling. There are a few route finding barriers but they are all bypassed on the north east side of the ridge. The saddle from Mt. Church to the summit is guarded by a much harder class 4 section of rotten rock.
Getting ThereThe approach from Lone Cedar Creek:
From Mackay, drive 11.4 miles northwest on Highway 93, toward Challis then turn right onto Lone Cedar Creek road. At the large ranch house, turn left off of the county maintained road and drive around the end of the wire fence, continue another mile up the canyon and park at the end of the road. Work your way through the narrows and into the upper basin. The route to the saddle becomes more and more obvious as you climb higher into the basin.
The approach from Sawmill Gulch:
From Mackay, drive 13 miles northwest on Highway 93, toward Challis, then turn right at the Sawmill Gulch jeep road. A high clearance 4WD will take you to the first switchback about 2.8 miles in. park there and located the old trail in the trees on the south side of the road. When you reach the end of the plateau at about 9,700’ you can see Leatherman pass and the head of Lone cedar creek canyon. Drop down into the canyon to the end of the approach or climb up and over Leatherman””” peak by its standard West ridge route.
Red TapeThe Salmon-Challis National Forest has seen a dramatic increase in the popularity of OHVs in the last decade and they are currently working on updating their travel plan. Please pick up a Challis National forest service travel map to see what roads are open and where they are closed. these maps are free and available at most convenience stores in Mackay as well as the Forest Service office located on Highway 93 in Mackay.
CampingThe nearest decent area to camp is at the Borah trailhead. In the summer season, you’ll likely be able to network with other climbers staying there, unfortunately there is no water so don’t forget to stock up! The elevation there is 7,200 feet. No reservations are necessary and no fee is required.
To get there from Mackay: Take U.S. Highway 93 21 miles north of Mackay to the Borah Peak Access Road (Birch Springs Road). This is between mileposts 129 and 130. Follow this road east for 3.0 miles to the trailhead.
Take U.S. Highway 93 south of Challis 33 miles to the Borah Peak Access Road. This is between mileposts 129 and 130. Follow this road east for 3.0 miles to the trailhead.
In good weather, the road is fine for most passenger cars. Reach a flat parking area and a climber's trailhead. The trailhead is unmarked, but is obvious from the parking area. The trail leaves from the uphill side (east) of the parking lot.
External LinksLopez Guide
Lost River Ranger District Salmon Challis National Forest Service.
Sawtooth avalanche page for current conditions within 5o miles of Bear Creek
Idaho Outdoors Forum
For more information, post a question to locals on the forum.