Casino Peak

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A winter ascent in the White Clouds, Casino Peak offers stunning views

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Casino Peak was our original goal. But on Friday afternoon Hwy 21 was closed at Banner Summit, so we had decided to head for the Lost Rivers at 4am the following morning. But then in the evening, they opened 21 back up.... what to do? What to do?

We decided to meet at 4am and make the call... which was again Casino Peak. So when we got to the Boundary Creek turnoff after our overly-early departure, it was still dark and also -4°. Even so, with the moon out there was no point in sitting around. We were off at about 7:30.

Moon over the Sawtooths

We made good progress, mostly to stay warm. After following some ski tracks for a bit, we crossed Boundary Creek to gain the ridge between Boundary and Cleveland Creeks, which made navigation easy:

Follow ridge.

Go up.

Sunrise on the Sawtooths
After an initial aspen hillside followed by some partially to mostly buried sagebrush, we were in open forests. The ridgetop did not hold a lot of snow, and some tree wells showed bare ground. We stayed on the sunny aspects where there was a breakable sun crust instead of the shady areas where there was occasional deep powder or sugar. Trees on the ridg

For the most part it wasn't that steep. However, there were two or three pitches where we were using the crampon-like claws of the snowshoes. With the recent spate of avalanche incidents, we avoided the shady slopes and open areas, so never had to deal with anything that might have been risky.

Note, however, that in good conditions this ridge and adjoining area would offer some really nice skiing. And great views.

Trees on the ridg
As you get nearer the top, you join the main ridge and swing around in a more southerly direction. That's the summit about half a mile away. Ridgetop view of summit
We hit the summit a little after 11, roughly 3 3/4 hours. There was a brisk breeze, but bright sunshine. We hung out for about 10 minutes taking lots of pictures, then went looking for a protected area for lunch. Summit
Casino Peak really offers some great views. Here's Castle Peak. Castle Peak
And the lookout on Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountaiin

This shows our route across the upper ridge. You can see the red line in the bigger version (click on the picture).

With a track beat in during the climb, we moved briskly on the descent- but took a lot of breaks to marvel at the views. So our overall time down was not that fast. Hey, it was a nice day, good company, and we were in the mountains,... so who wants to hurry?

Trees on the ridg

And here is an approximation of our ascent route. We weren't sure if we could pick out the actual summit, so if you decide to do this climb, don't rely wholly on this picture. Again, click to see the red line.

Super Dave's trip report

Lucky Peak reservoir

Mr. Natural Home | 2009 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski