This peak truly earns its name. It might not be that high, or have that much prominence, but it sits off by itself and that makes it seem much bigger. Because it sits by itself, it offers really tremendous 360° views of some of the wildest country in Idaho. For the same reason, it is also a significant challenge to climb. As an indication of the challenge, we were the first climbing party to sign the register in over two years.
Note that others had signed the register in the interim because there is a repeater on the summit and crews regularly fly a helicopter out to service the repeater.
As explained in the overview, getting there is a challenge. The shortest, easiest route involves first climbing Backdrop Peak
, about 2.5 miles and 2100' of gain.
Drive north from Ketchum on Idaho Highway 75 for about 16 miles. Turn left onto Baker Creek Road (signed, but easy to pass if you're doing the legal 65mph) and continue about 9.5 miles to the Baker Lake trailhead at the end of the road. There is a large parking area with a concrete toilet.
Head up the trail to Baker Lake and then climb Backdrop. From the summit of Backdrop, head down the south ridge and then turn west on the ridge that runs to Big Peak. Along the way, stay on the crest of the ridge as much as possible. At times this means some fun 3rd Class scrambling, but it's never very exposed or hard.
Total distance (one way): 5.75 miles
Save some energy for the return home, because you'll want to repeat the same track. This means a total of 11.5 miles and around 5000' of climbing.
Big Peak has been climbed from the Canyon Campground on Big Smoky Creek. For part of this approach, you follow a trail shared by motorcycles. On the plus side, you walk past Skillern Hot Springs
, which is highly recommended. Then you leave the trail and climb a long, gradual ridge.
Total distance (one way): 8.3 miles
None. No permits required.
However, this is snow country, so check road conditions.
Baker Lake offers some really nice backcountry camping.
If you prefer something more vehicular, there is dispersed camping all along the Baker Creek road.
And if you prefer a real bed, there are lots of hotels in Ketchum and Hailey.
Sawtooth Avalanche Center
Sawtooth national Forest
Sun Valley web cams
For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide