Glassford Peak is a huge peak in Idaho's Boulder range. Although you can see it from Highway 75 just north of Ketchum, it is one of the more difficult peaks in the Boulders to access. All routes require extensive off-trail work, lots of scree clambering, and some navigation skill. However, the technical content is low: Class II.
Because Glassford is taller than anything nearby, it offers a great view of the White Clouds, Boulders, and Pioneers. Also, its remoteness means it will be unusual if you see any other people on the mountain.
Getting ThereThere are several routes to access Glassford, none of them particularly easy.
From the north
Drive Highway 75 for 38 miles east of Stanley toward Challis, and turn south onto the East Fork road that follows the East Fork of the Salmon River. Follow this good-condition dirt road for 30 miles to the West Pass road. The first 1/4 mile of this road is loose baseball-size boulders and quite steep. 2WD passenger cars not recommended. After that, the road condition improves and is quite good until it is blocked in about 4 miles. Park (and camp) here. Follow the Northern Route (see below).
From the south
Drive Highway 75 north from Ketchum to the SNRA building, about 5 miles. Turn off and follow the dirt road for about 5 miles to its end. Follow the Southern Route (see below).
Red TapeNo Red Tape.
CampingThere is formal camping at a number of Forest Service campsites along Highway 75. Choose one according to your route and time. Additionally, there is "dispersed camping" at the northern trailhead with easy access to a creek, but no facilities.
External LinksTrip report
Sawtooth National Forest
Sawtooth national Forest Avalanche Center
Sun Valley cams (click on the Lookout cam)
For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.
6 miles, 4300' elevation.
From the trailhead, hike up the old road. After a short 1/2 mile, you will have to cross a broad creek. Early in the year, this could pose a problem, but in summer it's only about knee-deep. Continue on the road as it climbs above the creek and follows the valley. You will have to climb under or around numerous fallen trees, otherwise this portion might be a good mountain bike ride. When you see the West Pass trail on the left, it is time to drop down into the creek again.
As you follow the creek in a westerly direction, there are lots of options. On climber's right, there are lots of game trails, some quite a ways up the hillside. However, the hiking along the shoulder of the creek also works.
Eventually, you will get above timberline.
From the saddle, you have about 800' of very loose scree to deal with. Here, you are on your own.
6.5 miles, 5200' elevation gain, with a 600' return climb
From the trailhead, head up the North Fork of the Wood River. As the trail moves westward, pick your best bet for a saddle in the ridge on your north and hope it provides access down the other side. After you cross the ridge, join the upper valley portion of the northern route.