Kelmer Peak Loop


Kelmer Peak is part of the White Clouds between Washington Peak and Horton Peak.

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

Alex and Steve picked me up and we met Dave right at 4 for the drive through Stanley. We waited about three minutes at the Valley Road turnoff for Mariel to show up from Hailey. And we were walking up Twin Creek, still in the dark, at 10 to 8. 7600'.

Twin Creek (no 's') is a cool little trail. It's single track in good shape, despite the hunter's horses walking on the wet tread. Yes, a bit muddy. But not bad. And the horses made the trail easy to follow, despite the snow covering. Here we all are at about 8:30.

Trail start

At about 9000', the trail goes over the ridge in the background. But I was enticed by the looks of the upper cirque and led the group on one of my famous long cuts.

I think Mariel, looking into the steep cirque, is considering the wisdom of letting me lead.....




Off route

The cirque allowed us to access the ridge on snowshoes- except it didn't. We still had to pull them off just before the top.

No, that point in the background is not one of our peaks. It's just a bump on the ridge between Peak 10181 and Peak 10041. You'll see more of it soon enough.


The cirque

We were on top of the ridge at 10:20. That's Peak 10181 in the distance.

Peak 10181

Because my long cut brought us onto the ridge too far south, we had some extra terrain to cover. Twice, seeing as we would be heading back this way shortly. This is looking back at the top of the cirque we had used and the previously-discussed bump on the ridge on the right. The bump looks taller than the summit of Peak 10041 on the left, but isn't.

Looking south

Here's Dave showing the powerful hiking that makes him so Super (I told you I would use this!). If you click for the bigger version, you can see the Finger of Fate behind him.

We hit the summit of Peak 10181 right at 11:20. The summit views here were wonderful.



We sat and stared for almost half an hour. Well, we ate too. And took lots of pictures. It was comfortably warm and not a breath of wind.

And then it was time to beat feet. We had a long way to go yet, the serpentine ridge looked like it might be tricky, and Steve had tickets for Cirque de Soleil in Boise at 8:30.

The two red arrows show our next peaks: Peak 10041 and Peak 10166 (aka Kelmer Peak, and locally known as Pole Creek Peak). And you can finally see the "bump" in proper perspective.

The ridge up to Peak 10041 wasn't really that bad. There were a few spots where we were climbing rocks covered in snow. There was never really much exposure. But we did the whole ridge without snowshoes, so the post holing did require some effort.
Rocky ridge

Not to say there wasn't a good-sized drop off the north side of the ridge. Here's Dave marveling at the unfolding views. Between the false summit and actual summit, about 100 yards, there was a really cool-looking couloir that would be a fun snow climb in the right conditions.

We hit the summit of Peak 10041 at about 1:10. This time our summit stay was a bit shorter because the clock was ticking and Peak 10166 looked like it might take some time.


With a little work and some creativity (and a little dirt snowshoeing), we were able to stay on snowshoes all the way from 10041 to 10166. And in good time, too.

But Peak 10166 had a little 'kicker' right below the summit that gave us all some trouble. That shady band was unconsolidated snow and quite steep. I think only Alex avoided a scary, steep slide downhill on snowshoes... and only because he had taken his snowshoes off.


We were all on the summit at about 2:10.

Notice the bare hands, lack of hats, etc. And this was after we had been there for a few minutes and already started to bundle up. At times during the day I had been climbing with nothing more on top than a t-shirt. Crazy for November.


Our original plan was to continue south on the ridge all the way back to our car. But the clock was moving faster than we were, so we changed plans. This is looking down Pole Creek towards the Stanley Valley and Smiley Creek.

A little red dot shows approximately where the car sat 2500' below. You can also see the wooded ridge moving down left to right that would have dropped us quite close to the car.

But the ridge looked slow. So instead we jumped off the west face, following a snow gully almost the entire way back to the trail. Then a little less than a mile of trail back to the car right at 3.

We did the changing clothes thing and the packing up thing, eventually dropping Mariel back off at her car at 3:50. This was taken during that exchange at the highway. Although the two more northern peaks are hard to see from the highway, you can easily see Pole Creek Peak (aka Mount Kelmer or Peak 10166).

This route, planned by Dave (and at least partially inspired by Big Dan's trip report), was a great trip. We got to see a cool trail up a new drainage, three peaks, and an entire day of ridgetop views. And in November!


Alex photo slideshow

SuperDave trip report

Pole Creek Peak

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