White Cloud Peak #10
White Cloud Peak #10 (WCP-10) is located in central Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains
. WCP-10 is the highpoint of the steep and rugged ridge that extends east from Caulkens Peak
. The ridge forms an impressive backdrop for the beautiful Tin Cup Lake, but WCP-10 is probably more often seen by visitors to the popular Big Boulder Lakes, which are scattered all around to the south of the peak. WCP-10 is the eastern most of a grouping of ten peaks in the northern White Clouds that have no names other than number designators. These names have gained acceptance through a naming convention popularized by Tom Lopez
. The peak boasts a respectable elevation 11102’, which allows it to sneak onto the list of Idaho’s Highest Peaks
, with a modest #102 ranking. It also shows up at #9 on the White Cloud Peak List
. The peak is seldom climbed (only four known ascent parties as of 2008) due to the steep terrain and loose rock found on the peak. However, the challenging climb and outstanding views make WCP-10 a very worthy objective.
Peakbaggers who come to the White Clouds are usually greeted by summit destinations that are accessible by walkups or straightforward scramble routes. Very few peaks in the range require
Class IV exposure, but WCP-10 is one of the exceptions to that rule. WCP-10 is one of, if not the most challenging peaks to climb in the White Clouds. There are no known routes on the peak that are easier than Class IV, thanks to the steepness of the peak and its shattered composition. Placing protection for roped climbing anywhere on the peak is problematic due to the shattered nature of the rock. As a result, all would-be climbers are faced with steep routes through loose rock. The south side of the peak offers up long steep scree chutes that carve their way to the summit from Sheep Lake. The peak’s northern aspects don't hold as much scree, but do have an abundance of larger unstable rock. Choose your poison.
WCP-10 is surrounded by stunning scenery, including some of the best that the White Clouds have to offer. And that’s saying a lot. A thousand feet below and to the north lays Tin Cup Lake and Gunsight Lake, which are backed by the marbled reddish and white rock that makes up The Chinese Wall and The Gunsight. Caulkens Peak
stares you in the face to the west. The highlight is probably the view south, with Big Boulder Lakes strewn all about, and six other White Cloud 11ers visible include the seemingly omnipresent Castle Peak
. The scenery to the east is more distant, with the Lost River Range
defining the horizon.
Tin Cup Approach
The routes most likely to be used to reach WCP-10 require taking the long drive to the Livingston Mill trailhead off of the East Fork Salmon River. To reach Livingston Mill make your way to Stanley
, and then go northeast on Highway 75 for almost 37 miles (or 21 miles southwest from Challis). Leave the highway about 4.5 miles east of Clayton, then turn south on the East Fork Salmon River road, which is paved for the first 15 miles from the highway, then turns to gravel. At about 17.5 miles from the highway, turn right on the road to Livingston Mill. After almost 5 miles, turn left just before the mill area, and the trailhead is just on the other side of the creek. The trailhead is accessible to passenger cars, and requires a four-hour drive from Boise.
For those planning to attempt routes on the north side WCP-10 from Tin Cup Lake, you can shave about 6 miles off the approach by driving up the jeep trail to Railroad Ridge. The road tops out at 10400’, which probably makes it the highest elevation road in Idaho
. A high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is probably
required most years.
South Face Routes
Hike the trail from Livingston Mill up into the Big Boulder Lakes. The main trail goes as far as Walker Lake, then its mostly bushwhacking from Walker Lake to Sheep Lake. The climb from Sheep Lake to the summit of WCP-10 covers 1200’ of elevation gain in just under a half mile. Rob Landis climbed this route in 2006, and rated the steep scree chutes on the south face as Class IV difficulty. Route totals: 14 miles round trip, 4000 feet elevation gain.
Climbing the NW Face
North Face Routes
Drive from Livingston Mill up to Railroad Ridge, and park at the 10400’ saddle. Then climb the sheep trails up "Gunsight Point"
(10817’) before descending steep slopes down to the Tin Cup Lake basin. From here there could be a couple options, the most likely of which is the Northwest Face
, followed by a traverse across the upper north face out to the highpoint. Its lots of scrambling form the lake to the summit, with a few Class IV moves required in various places. Route totals: 5 miles round trip, 2500 feet elevation gain.
The 800’ of scrambling back up and over “Gunsight Point” can be tiring at the end of the day.
The guidebook makes reference to a Class III route following the ridge from Caulkens Peak
to WCP-10. It is likely that whoever provided this beta to the author mistook the east summit of Caulkens for WCP-10. It does appear to be a straightforward scramble from Caulkens to the saddle between the two peaks, but there are no routes easier than Class IV from the saddle out to the summit of WCP-10.
Snow Lake Sapphire Lake
Camping near the trailhead is possible, but not preferred. For overnight backpackers, there are great campsites available along both northern and southern approaches for WCP-10. Tin Cup Lake makes a great stopping point on the north side of the peak. To the south, there are numerous camping options, and you should allow for at least a couple days in this highly scenic area. Walker Lake is one of the more popular destinations, and many folks also hike up higher to the main Big Boulder Lakes. There is also at least one small campsite at Sheep Lake, which sees much less traffic.
No permits, parking passes, or any other kind or red tape to worry about. Just tread lightly and respect the fragile nature of the local ecosystem. Also steer clear of the buildings at the Livingston Mill trailhead, they may not be structurally sound and they are private property.
The summer climbing season in the White Clouds is typically from mid July until the snow flies in October. It is feasible to go earlier in the year, but be prepared for a few “high water” creek crossings along the way to the Big Boulder Lakes. Early season visits may also make the jeep road to Railroad Ridge impassable.
Below are some good staring points for finding current conditions in the area: