Peak 9290, unnamed on the USGS topographic map, is among the highest of several highpoints on a long north-south trending ridge in the northwest corner of Idaho’s Sawtooth range. It sits above a lake basin at the southern head of the North Fork of Canyon Creek. Its eastern slope drops down to Elk Creek, which runs across Highway 21 on the northern approach to Stanley. And it is clearly visible from the popular backcountry ski area of Copper Mountain.
Despite what should sound like an inviting area, this peak is seldom climbed. Although we found old trail tread, I believe the North Fork drainage is seldom visited. Part of the problem is a lack of easy access in the winter. The other is the “lost trail” does not show up on the map. And the last issue is that it doesn’t seem you can really see the summit from the highway. Ah, but you can! The summit is in view from the east, but because it is part of a ridge, it doesn’t stand out much.
But for those patient enough to gain access and willing to work for a bit of adventure, Peak 9290 offers an incredible view of the Sawtooths. And wide-open ski slopes with a variety of aspects. And total solitude among a compact basin holding as many as ten lakes.
One way distance: 4.7 miles
Expected time to summit: 3 to 7 hours
This peak is on Idaho Highway 21 between the towns of Lowman and Stanley.
From Lowman, proceed to the snow gates at the Grandjean turnoff. From the gates, go 8.5 miles north. This takes you most of the way through Idaho’s “Avalanche Alley.”
Alternately, from Stanley drive to the snow gates on Banner Creek summit and then proceed south for 4.25 miles.
Watch to the east for an opening in the tall hillside. When the ridge gives way to the deep valley of the North Fork of Canyon Creek, look for a small dirt road that leads to a gravel pit. Park in the gravel pit.
During snow season, the turnoff is not plowed. In face, parking is not allowed anywhere along Avalanche Alley. But in the spring when the snow starts melting, there is sufficient room along the shoulder or at the road entrance to place a car.
This is snow country, so note the issue in "Getting There." Also note that this is snow country, so be prepared for snowy roads or even closed roads. The road to Grandjean is not plowed during the winter and early spring. The road along Canyon Creek, aka Avalanche Alley, is sometimes closed during the winter due to avalanches. This section along Canyon Creek experiences about 90 percent of the state's slides that threaten highways, with 54 avalanche chutes along the 11-mile section.
The best camping should be at one of the lakes in the basin under the peak.
But if you don't want to carry your camp, there are many excellent campgrounds along Highway 21, some with hot springs. There are more near Grandjean.
For a little softer accomodations during the summer months, you can try the Sawtooth Lodge near Grandjean.
External LinksSplattski trip report
Banner Creek Summit weather station
Idaho Transportation Department Traveler Information
For more information, call the Lowman Ranger Station at 208.373.7500.
For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.