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Nicholson Peak
Mountain/Rock

Nicholson Peak

 
Nicholson Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Idaho, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 44.08026°N / 113.0986°W

Object Title: Nicholson Peak

County: Butte

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 11051 ft / 3368 m

 

Page By: splattski

Created/Edited: Jun 19, 2013 / Jun 23, 2013

Object ID: 853349

Hits: 786 

Page Score: 83.42%  - 17 Votes 

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Overview

Standard route
Red line shows the standard route, roughly.Shot from the vehicle on approach road (but on the way out).
Nicholson Peak has a rocky, pointed summit that is visible from many of the Lemhi southern peaks, and it is quite obvious from the Little Lost River Valley. If you are a Lemhi climber, Nicholson should be on your list. 
According to the book Idaho, A Climbing Guide, Nicholson Peak is named after the Nicholson Sunny Bar Ranch, which is just southwest of the peak. You can clearly see the ranch from atop the peak; the approach drive would be much shorter if the ranch roads were not closed to the public.

Route Stats
One way distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation gain: 4150'
Class: mostly 2, with a bit of Class 3
Expected time round trip: 6-8 hours

Getting There

Transition zone
This is the mixed terrain leaving the trees and entering the talus near the ridge top.
Most people will approach this from the south. So from the tiny hamlet of Howe, Idaho, drive north for about 24 miles. 
Turn right onto Badger Creek Road, which might not be signed. You will see some signs for a ranch and some mail boxes. Follow the road a short distance and turn right into a gravel pit. 
On your right, look for a good dirt road that leaves the back of the gravel pit. Follow this road (or a road that parallels it about 50-100' north) for about 5 miles. You are heading into the Badger Creek Canyon, and the mouth of the canyon should be obvious and right in front of you. As you enter the canyon, you will see some grassy flats that would make a nice camp spot. 
At the back of that initial flat area, look for a a road/jeep trail on your right. From here on, the road requires high clearance and possibly 4-wheel drive, but is probably passable in a Subaru. From the camp spot, the road crosses a creek that is moderately deep with steep banks- high clearance required. If you get past this, you are home free. 
Climb out of the canyon on the south, and continue through a gate in about a quarter mile. You will now be heading south and downhill across the alluvial flats. As you drive along, you'll be able to see the treed oasis of Fowler Springs on your left.
At about 3 miles, turn left and head east to Fowler Springs in about 1.5 miles. Stop at the major flats. That's your trailhead.
The road goes up another 50 or 100 yards, but it's really steep and there are no tent sites.
Rocky section
This is the rocky section of the ridge. Class 4 if you take it head on, or traverse below for some up-and-down Class 3.


Route

Upper face
This photo shows the final 900' of climbing. Easy talus, or snow if you are lucky.
From the "trailhead", proceed up the road past the spring and simply head up. For the next 2000' it's an open sagebrush hillside (ripe with ticks when we were there). Your goal is the obvious rocky area at the top of the visible ridge; we went right (south). 
Contour south around the ridge and get on top.
Continue east on easy ground until you hit the rocky section. This can be climbed directly (Class 4) or skirt under on the south side.
Regain the ridge and pick one of many easy lines up the final 1000' of gain. The summit is slightly north of the most obvious line.

Red Tape

None. No registration. But this is really wild, lonesome country, so if you screw up and no one knows where you are, you might be there forever.
There is one gate on the road between Badger Creek and Fowler Springs; please close it after passing through.

When to Climb

Nearing the summit
This is the final few hundred feet to the summit.
Most folks will want to wait for dry conditions, but those can come early in the Lemhis. It's also likely to be quite hot in the summer. And way cold in the winter. But likely climbable in any season if you avoid avalanche conditions or afternoon thunderstorms. So pick your poison.

Camping

Fowler Springs
Great view from the (dry) trailhead camp site. The springs are a hundred feet up a steep hill, so not convenient for water. The springs may not run all year....
There are two excellent camp sites on the approach drive. 
  • The flats at the head of Badger Creek Canyon offers a grassy area with a creek flowing through the middle.
  • The flats just below Fowler Springs offer a great view of the valley and of the east side of the Lost River range. There may be water at Fowler Springs, but it is not convenient.

External Links

Mackay, Idaho info
Splattski trip report 
Salmon/Challis National Forest
Lone Pine cam (shows multiple views of highway on east side of range)

For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.

Images

Nicholson PeakRocky sectionStandard routeUpper faceNearing the summitFowler SpringsTransition zone
Nicholson map