If not for first rate rock, (for the Pioneers) amazing views of the Wildhorse basin and a versatile climbing experience, the North ridge of Howard Peak’s North summit would truly be a ridge to nowhere. The North summit is the second highest of Howard peaks three summits and access to the true summit requires a short pitch of class five climbing or a hefty down climb to the standard route. The route from the end of the road is less than a mile long but gains about 2,700 feet, the last few hundred feet is a section of steep and sustained class 4 scrambling that will have you begging yourself to refrain from looking beyond your last foothold. The ridge is also the shortest way to access the Wildhorse Arete; the airy class 5 ridge that splits the upper basin in half.
Getting ThereFrom Mackay: Take US Highway 93 16 miles north of Mackay to the Trail Creek Road. Turn left on the Trail Creek Road. Follow this road 18 miles to the Copper Basin Road. Turn left on the Copper Basin Road. Follow this road 2 miles to the Wildhorse Creek Road. Stay to the right on the Wildhorse Creek Road. Follow the Wildhorse Creek Road 10.5 to the Campground. From there, follow the jeep trail another 5 Hellish miles to its dead end and an old ruined bridge.
From Challis: Take US Highway 93 south of Challis to the Trail Creek Road. Turn right on the Trail Creek Road. Follow this road 18 miles to the Copper Basin Road. Turn left on the Copper Basin Road. Follow this road 2 miles to the Wildhorse Creek Road. Stay to the right on the Wildhorse Creek Road. Follow the Wildhorse Creek Road 10.5 miles to the campground.
From Sun Valley/Ketchum: Take Highway 75 (main street) to Sun Valley Road. Turn northeast onto the Sun Valley Road. This road turns into Trail Creek Road (closed in winter). Follow this road to the Copper Basin Road.
From the end of the road, cross the logs that used to support the bridge and immediately start climbing toward the obvious ridge in front of you. Pick your way up through a recently burned section of white pine forest. Top out of the trees at about 8,800’ and you have a clear view of your future. Hike up the talus to the right until you get to the start of the ridge where you can get a good look at the large North West face. Ascend challenging class three terrain and bypass most of the towering blocks on the west side. The rock quality improves as you gain elevation but so does the angle of attack. Follow the ridge as it leans to the right and carfully fret your way up through a section of scary, loose blocks to the summit.
External LinksIdaho A Climbing Guide
Idaho Summits .com A well done site featuring Idaho peaks plus a cool forum on Idaho Outdoors.
Lost River Ranger District A branch of the Salmon / Challis National forest Service.