This peak is often overlooked by those bagging the '12ers" of Idaho. It even got overlooked by the naming process.
Gib's cam view
But the summit of Peak 11967 is a worthy goal with a fun mix of scree, snow, and scrambling without scary exposure. It also affords a great view of most of those 12ers, so makes a good site for scoping routes. You get a great view of the face of Borah above Chicken Out Ridge, the entire route of Mt. Idaho, the backside of Leatherman, and the snow route on Church.
Vance Canyon in June
Round trip distance: 7.5 miles
Vertical gain: 5100'
Difficulty: mostly Class 2 with some Class 3 on the summit ridge
Expected time: 8-12 hours
The access for 11967 is up Elkhorn Creek, which is signed on the highway. This is the same access as for Mount Idaho:[img:524757:alignright:small:Summit]
From downtown Mackay, drive approximately 15.5 miles north on Highway 93. Look for the sign on the right.
From Ketchum/Sun valley, drive the Trail Creek road to Highway 93, then turn right (south). Elkhorn Creek is about 0.3 miles on your left.
When you locate the turnoff for Elkhorn Creek, open the wire gate (and close it after yourself!) and drive up the very rocky road. The first section, about a mile, is driveable in a high-clearance 2WD vehicle. The upper 1/2 mile requires 4WD, but you can walk, right? Just leave your rig where the road gets bad. At the end of the 4WD road, a slight tread leads you up the Elkhorn Creek canyon. Keep your eyes open, as the trail is a little vague in places. It also crosses the creek twice.
Just make sure you close the gate at the highway each time you pass. Please.
Once you leave the highway on the Elkhorn Creek road, there aren't many flat spots. But there is one if you bear left. Look for an abandoned irrigation dam just before the road reaches the creek. The top of the dam is flat and just big enough for a tent.[img:524756:alignright:small:Talus field and snow on upper mountain]
Alternately, you can camp at Mackay Reservoir, which has lots of camp spots and real toilets!
Or if you're looking for something softer, try the Wagon Wheel motel in Mackay. Very reasonable.
External LinksMackay info
Splattski trip report
Lost River Ranger District, Salmon-Challis National Forest
Willow Creek cam
, looking south from about 20 miles north
Gib's Borah cam
, looking just north and through a support beam on Gib's porch
[img:697068:alignleft:small:Gib's cam view]
For additional information on this climb and other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.
The main route for this peak follows a climber's trail up Elkhorn Creek to about 8400', then a steep bushwhack up the hillside to Point 9887 (trying to avoid the boulder patches). From there, head uphill to a bench, then angle left up through the talus. [img:524754:alignright:small:Map of standard route]
If you go early enough, you may find snow to climb, easing the difficulties presented by all that talus. When you get up high, access the ridge and scramble (Class III) to the summit.
On the descent, you might try crossing the ridge to Point 11400 and dropping straight down through the ankle-deep gravel.
Alternately, Vance Canyon looks like a nice route in snow, perhaps even a good ski route, although it may require more traversing and mileage.[img:524753:alignright:small:Vance Canyon in June]