OverviewLem Peak's northeast ridge divides the Bear Valley Lakes and Buck Lakes basins. Certainly, it would be the second choice for an ascent route behind an effort up through the Buck Lakes and southeast ridge.
What is appealing is that the northeast ridge gives you the opportunity to gain some elevation and view the interior country containing the Bear Valley and Buck Lakes.
Lem Peak's four ridge design and location make it a difficult peak to see until you get beyond tree line at around 9200'. Really, the best view of Lem Peak is from a neighboring summit.
The northeast ridge of Lem Peak serves up most of what you could ask for. There is great scenery,
the physical challenge, and one of the big Lemhi peaks to put on your resume'.
From Idaho Hwy 28 turn west onto Hayden Creek Road which is located between mile marker 109 and 110. At roughly 8 miles and just beyond the National Forest Boundary sign, turn right onto the signed Bear Valley Lakes Road.
The Bear Valley Lakes Road is well marked as 09 and can be handled in a passenger car. It is 5 miles to the trailhead which has plenty of parking and space for camping. Do not take Rd 195 at the switchback.
The well developed trail begins by immediately crossing Bear Valley Creek and proceeding in a west by northwest direction.
At 2.25 miles and at 7750' you reach the trail junction and a sign pointing you left to Buck Lakes. From here some general directions will be given and you can give your navigation skills a workout.
Lem Peak's northeast ridge is on your right and guarded by a series of rock fortresses. The recommendation is to travel at least 3/4 mile up the Buck Lakes trail and evaluate your best place to leave the trail and gain the northeast ridge.
Once gained, follow the northeast ridge to the summit.
Route Statistics and Information
The route is mostly Class 2 with some Class 3 in spots. You can find plenty of Class 3 directly on the northeast ridge above 10000' if you care to engage it. Did spot two cairns along the ridge indicating others used the same game plan.
From the trailhead to the summit was 4.67 miles with a starting elevation of 6800'.
There were 9 rigs at the trailhead on this Saturday in July with everyone fishing, camping, or day hiking. There was only one knucklehead on a summit expedition, so you will have Lem Peak to yourself.
A nice descent alternative is to drop down the southeast ridge to the Buck Lakes and pick up the Buck Lakes trail at Buck Lake 8474.