Winter Ascent of Williams Peak

Date of trip: 01/08/2012

Mileage: 5.84 Miles

Elevation Gain: 3508 Feet

Time: 6 Hour(s) and 41 Minutes

Class: 2

Partners: Zach

GPS Track: View Here

Peaks Climbed on Trip:
Peak Name Elevation Prominence Range Close to County highpoint Range highpoint Map
Williams Peak10740760Lost RiverMackay, IdahoNoNo44.0494, -113.7128

Trip Report

With low snow levels and a good weather forecast, Zach and I headed to the Lost River to get some high elevation peak bagging in. I picked Williams Peak (Peak 10740), which sits just south of Mount Church. I chose this peak, mainly because it sits west of the main crest of the Lost Rivers and thus is more winter accessible.

On the way to the peak, Zach and I debated going up the main Jones Creek or returning to the North Fork of Jones Creek. Both Zach and I had a bad experience in the North Fork of Jones Creek while doing Church and Donaldson in 2003, but had heard there is now a trail up the drainage. We liked the more moderate angle that canyon provide to the 10,000 foot saddle between Williams Peak and Donaldson Peak, so we opted for that ascent.

We drove to 7400', just below the mouth of the canyon and parked. It was windy and the peaks were in and out of the clouds. We headed up into the canyon quickly and got a reprieve from the wind. We were delighted to find a trail in the drainage and made decent progress. Some sections were time consuming, with icy and snow covered rocks.

At 9000', we decided to put on snowshoes. We were aiming for the 10,000 foot saddle that connected Williams Peak and Donaldson Peak. At the saddle, the wind increased. We put on more layers and continued up. The wind increased until we maneuvered further onto the west aspect of the ridge. With the wind out of the equation we headed up the ridge. The slopes were scree, but it was stable and had good traction. About 200' below the summit, the terrain became rockier.

After 4 hours of climbing, we reached the top. The top has a large cairn. We knew Rick Baugher had climbed the peak, so we dug in the cairn for the register. Sure enough, we found it at the bottom of the cairn. Rick signed it in 1999, followed by one other party in 2004. I am sure others have climbed the peak, but there is no writing instrument with the register.

The views from the top were fabulous. The peak might not be as high as the big Lost Rivers, but it juts out into the valley further and drops precipitously to the valley floor. The weather was fabulous for January. The wind wasn't bad on top and the temperature was probably at or above freezing given that the frost was melting off the rocks.

On the way down, we left snowshoes off the entire way. We descended in about 2 and a 1/2 hours. We were able to follow the climber's trail in the canyon for most of the distance, even with the snow on the ground.

It was a great day to be in the mountains. It was really cool to climb such a high peak in January without having to slog through deep snow or worry about avalanches.


Getting There

Turn northeast off of US 93 onto the signed Lone Cedar Creek road. Follow this improved dirt road for 1.5 miles. As you approach the ranch gates, look for a two track off to your right and turn down this road. The road parallels the ranch fence. After the ranch fence line ends, this road turns north and angles for the mouth of the canyon (North Fork of Jones Creek). At the end of the road (7400') is a nice turnout for parking.


Hiking Directions

From the end of the road at 7400', there is a faint and lightly cairned trail leading to the mouth of the canyon (on the left side of the creek). At the entrance to the canyon, there is a large cairn. The trail is easily followed. However, it soon crosses the creek and follows the hillside on the right side of the creek. The route is cairned all the way to nearly 10,000 feet.


Photos

View Slideshow

Donaldson Peak in cloud
Donaldson Peak in cloud
10000' saddle between Williams and Donaldson
10000' saddle between Williams and Donaldson
Zach at the 10000' saddle
Zach at the 10000' saddle
Looking down NF Jones Creek
Looking down NF Jones Creek
Williams Peak from 10k
Williams Peak from 10k
Looking down at the valley floor
Looking down at the valley floor
Breitenbach and Lost River
Breitenbach and Lost River
Rick Baugher note
Rick Baugher note
Breitenbach, Lost River, and McCaleb peaks
Breitenbach, Lost River, and McCaleb peaks
Summit shot
Summit shot
Zach on the summit
Zach on the summit
North Fork Jones Creek
North Fork Jones Creek
Williams Peak from the southwest
Williams Peak from the southwest




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