The South Gully route on White Cap makes for an interesting scramble
particularly early in the season when much of the route will still be under
snow. The ideal time for this route varies from year to year, but technically
this is a year round possibility. For typical Spring couloir / steep snow
conditions, April and May would be ideal months. The route actually consists of
2 possible gullies that both leave the Sawmill Gulch near Sawmill Pass, and
steeply ascend to the 11,000 foot SW ridge that leads to the summit.
Either of these gullies will provide access and the gully marked on the USGS
1:24000 with an intermittent stream is the route described here. A large rock
outcropping on the south slopes divides this gully from the other gully just to
the NE. When under the primary south gully, it is very clear and obvious.
South Gully (Class 2-3)- From the jeep road, follow a well worn trail
along Sawmill Gulch through an Aspen thicket. Soon the trail steepens and
reaches what is termed Sawmill Pass, a flat section with great views and
backpacking possibilities. From here, leave the trail that goes toward
Leatherman Pass and climb to the NNW up the steep and prominent south gully.
This gully starts fairly moderately, then steepens just before the 11,000 foot
saddle that separates Point 11045 from White Cap Peak 11899. Early season, just
below this ridge you may encounter a large overhanging cornice. Avoid this
obstacle by either bypassing it on the right through mixed snow and rock (Class
3) or to the left on open snow (Class 2-3).
Once on the summit ridge stay primarily on the NW side of this ridge as it
turns due north and climbs to the summit. A summit cairn and register was found
on a small flank overlooking the steep north slopes and Pass Lake. Enjoy the
beautiful views of Leatherman, Bad Rock, and Church to the SE and Mt. Idaho and
Point 11967 to the NW.
Approach- From the marked Sawmill Gulch road off ID-93, follow this
jeep trail over rocky terrain for approximately 2 miles where you'll reach a
prominent rock outcropping supposedly guarding the canyon. If you can get your
vehicle pass this section, the canyon opens up again and continues for another
mile before the jeep road comes to an end. Where this jeep road makes it's first
hairpin turn / switchback, find the hiking trail.
Gear- Early season requires Ice-Ax and Cramp-ons.
From the prominent rock outcropping near 7500 feet : 6.8 miles and 4648 feet gain (roundtrip)