Peak 9,988 is one of the southernmost peaks located in the seldom visited White Cloud Mountains of central Idaho
Peak 9,988, visible from nearby Highway 75, is not all that impressive. It forms a perfect pyramid with three ridges forking symetrically at the summit. Peak 9,988's north and southwest faces are quite rugged while the more seldom-viewed east face is a gentle, wildflower covered slopes that leads to the summit.
Peak 9,988 is an excellent introductory peak to climb for familiarizing yourself to the Northern Boulders, Southern White Cloud Mountains, and Pole Creek Summit area. It is an important geographical feature that seperates Grand Prize Gulch, Grand Prize Canyon, Galena Gulch, and Pole Creek Canyon from each other.
Although this peak is easily viewed and accessed, it seems as though fewer than 15 people have ever reached the summit. This. of course, due to the fact that few people venture into the elusive White Clouds, and the some that do, come to climb Castle Peak or some of the higher White Cloud Peaks to the north.
There are two routes that lead to the summit of Peak 9,988, both of which offer a short but enjoyable class two scramble to the summit.
To access Peak 9,988 from Ketchum Idaho, drive north on Highway 75 over Galena Summit to Pole Valley Road, which would be a right turn just before entering Sawtooth City.
If approaching from the north, it is 16.5 miles south of Stanley on the left.
Drive east across the Sawtooth Valley for 2.4 miles until coming to a fork in the road. Going left will bring you back to Stanley, so bear right and begin driving up the scenic Pole Creek Valley.
For access of the Grand Prizee Gulch Route, drive 4 more miles on this improved dirt road until seeing a sign that reads Grand Prize Gulch on the right. Take this small, but passable road, down a small hill and to a faint parking area at the trailhead. Park here.
Grand Prize Gulch Route
This is the most direct route to the summit of Peak 9,988 and offers quality views for its entire length.
From the trailhead, cross immedietly cross Pole Creek on a somewhat comedic log crossing (I wouldnt recommend it if you are over 130lbs). If you dont feel comfortable cross on a discintagrating log, bring wading shoes and cross the usually mellow creek.
Start walking on this wide trail, which unfortunately allows any motorized vehicles with 2 wheels, until shortly coming to a fork. Go left on a switchback that begins to head toward the mouth of Grand Prize Gulch Canyon.
After about one miles on Grand Prize Gulch Trail, it will swing southeastward and head upstream toward the base of Peak 9,988. Continue up the trail, which fords Grand Prize Gulch, an easy crossing, until reaching some switchbacks on the north side of the canyon.
After the apex of the first large switchback, several routes lead northeast to Peak 9,988's southeast ridge through openings in the thick forests. Choose whichever opening looks most accomodating to you and begin to scramble up a steep slope through thick sage, forests, and deadfall.
After about 1,600' of rough scrambling the route then gains the southeast ridge of Peak 9,988 and climbs gently to the summit.
No red tape or permits required.
The access trail on the Grand Prize Gulch route is not open to ATV users but is one of the few in Idaho that allows dirt bikes and other motorized two wheel vehicles.
When To Climb
This mountain is usually snow free by mid-July on most years.
Road closures would make a winter ascent long, but possible.
There is plenty of camping area near at the trailhead and along Pole Creek Road.
Camping is not recommended along Grand Prize Gulch because of the allowance for motor vehicles on the trail.