Peak 11,272White Clouds Peak 11,272 is located 0.6 miles due south of Cove Lake in the Big Boulder Lakes basin. It is a class 2-3 climb with a surprising, multi-vertical walled summit. A summit register was placed in 2006. The rocks are brown and granitic, with many loose, large blocks that can pose for tricky footing. Peak 11,272's geology differs considerably from its white limestone and altered limestone neighbors DO Lee, WCP-9 and Caulkens, and provides for a uniquely different climb by comparison.
From the SE end of the Cove Lake inlet (lake 9842), begin scrambling the obvious N ridge. Follow the ridge crest to the peak with little variation. Some lose class 3 debris in places, yet mostly class 2 large boulder blocks, with some unstable. More stable scrambling, when needed, is found on the west side of the crest. A few short class 3 moves are required to gain the actual summit. Elevation gain is 1400' from base to summit.
Other approaches are class 4-5 from the S and NW ridgelines. As this author recalls, one or two people had signed in, having summited from the NW.
Getting ThereFrom Stanley, Idaho, drive NE on Hwy 75 past Lower Stanley and Clayton. About 4.4 miles past Clayton, turn right onto East Fork Road. Follow the signs to Big Boulder Road, which bears to the right off EF Road. Park at the large Livingston Mill trailhead which has a good pit toilet. One could car camp at this trailhead if they do not mind dust and traffic. Some 20 cars were parked here on Aug 3, 2012, and a Forest Service crew was apparently camping out.
Hike the trail from Livingston Mill SW to Walker lake, 5 miles. At Walker Lake, bear right and hike the obvious upper trail to the lake's inlet. Here, a social trail marked by cairns heads NE and generally up Bighorn Creek. Follow this obvious trail, which wraps into the nameless basin to the west. The trail is very clear heading up the talus slope on the SW corner of the basin and emerges at Hook lake. Hug the S edge of Hook lake and continue heading south over a small knoll that overlooks Cove lake. Drop down to Cove lake and cross its large, obvious inlet (from Sapphire lake). Work your way around the SW side of Cove lake, traversing above a small snowfield, and to the obvious base of Peak 11,272's ridge. Begin climbing here and descend the same ridge.
Red TapeA six mile hike or backpack in from Livingston Mill trailhead, which is an hour and 45 minutes drive from Stanley. The last hour is on good dirt road along the East Fork Salmon River. No car camping is available along this dirt road, but there are many campground sites between Lower Stanley, Clayton, and there is even a CG across the road from the EF Salmon River road turnoff. No helmet needed.
CampingCamping sites can be found around many of the Big Boulder basin lakes. Alternately, one could backpack or dayhike in from Slate Creek and Big Horn Basin, but the convenience and stunning beauty from camping at Cove or nearby other Big Boulder lakes is recommended. NOTE: NO CAMP FIRES ALLOWED.
Note to fishermen: Cutthroat trout fishing is abundant in this basin, particularly in Cove lake (15"ers) and Cirque lake (18"ers). Sapphire Lake, though its cutthroats are plainly visible from the banks, has a reputation for tougher fishing.