Galena Peak's massive south bowl, while impressive in its grandeur, is subject to massive wintertime avalanches.
Galena Peak rises dramatically out of the upper upper Big Wood River Valley forming an unforgettable backdrop to the Galena Lodge 30 miles north of Ketchum on Idaho 75. It is the northernmost Boulder peak to reach above 11,000 feet and is very popular with back country skiiers as well as scramblers making this one of the more climbed peaks in the region. The south facing portion of the mountain is characterized by a large south-west facing bowl which is commonly swept by massive avalanches in the winter. The rarely viewed east face forms an impressive wall when viewed from the East Fork of the Salmon River. Though no well established trails lead to the region, Galena Peak is a pleasurable, non-techinical, and relatively close to town mountain.
Unlike most other Boulder Peaks, Galena Peak does not require an incredibly tough car to access it. Drive north of Ketchum on Idaho 75 for about 30 miles or so. About 150 yards before Galena Lodge, Senate Creek Road bears off to the right. Take this road until it's termination, or about two miles. A four wheel drive is recommended though its not nearly as a scary drive as its other Bouder Mountain access counter-parts. From where the road ends, it is recommended that you immidiaetly climb tree-choked ridgr directly in fron of you. If you dont feel like venturing straight into the woods, do what I did and begin nice and easy by hiking up the unnamed valley to the east of Senate Creek. Once you've had enough of this little valley, or avalanche debris gets in your way, hike due north until gaining Galena Peak's western ridge. Once on the ridge, if you are still embedded in the woods, keep climbing eastward until the forest breaks suddenly at the 9,600' contour line. At this point it may seem confusing where you are or where Galena Peak is. You cant see it yet so continue up the class 2 western ridge until meeting up with the southwestern ridge. From here it becomes obvious of where you are going, head northeast to the summit where you will find rewarding views of the area, (especially of the Sawtooths, this being the abrupt rising in the Boulder range on its northern end.)
No red tape...Usual closing of dirt roads in winter apply.
When To Climb
Due to Galena Peak's unusually close distance to highway 75, its massive faces on all sides, and higher base elevation than other surrounding mountains, Galena Peak is a back country skier's dream in Sun Valley. It is mostly climbed in the early spring whereas mid-winter avalanche dangers give even the most experienced outdoorsmen chills. While in the summertime it makes for a popular hiking spot due to its proximity to the famous Galena Lodge.
Due to its location in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, numerous campsites are found all along Idaho 75, just take your pic. *hint. the CGs around Baker and Prarie Creeks tend to have the highest quality in scenery.
We locals here in Sun Valley have a little joke in our town, whenever it rains down there in the valley, one of us usually says, "bet its snowin at Galena." Due to its much higher elevation and deeper location in the mountains, its not uncommon to see triple amount of snow at Galena Lodge than in Ketchum (yes the lodge, the mountain has even more.) And bitterly cold temperatures. If one was trying too find out local conditions for this area, instead of looking at the weather in Sun Valley for an idea, check the weather station in Stanley for a better feel for what the conditions might be like.