White Mountain and South & North Twin


The Salmon River mountains outside Challis are dominated by the trio of White Mountain, South Twin, and North Twin

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

Dan and I had our usual trouble coming up with a suitable itinerary with fluctuating circumstances. When Dan suggested the Salmon River mountains outside Challis, my interest was piqued based on a potential new area.

So Sunday morning, we left at a negotiated 5am and arrived at the "Park Here" sign on South Twin (as a technical writer, I can't resist imperative verbs). The road had seemed questionable at times, but is probably negotiable by anything with high clearance, or even a carefully driven sedan. We were hiking at about 10am.

PS- You can easily park at the NEXT switchback and save yourself 1/2 mile and 200' of gain.

Park here

From the next switchback, there is a trail that drops down to the saddle between South Twin and White Mountain, the highpoint in the picture and our first objective for the day. From the saddle, just follow the ridge. If you want, you can try sidehilling around some of the bumps, but we did a test and found either way comparable in time/effort.

White Mountain

The first part of the ridge is mostly a hike, with some loose talus and slippery dirt to keep your interest.

Hiking the ridge to White Mountain

Then it turns into a really fun Class 3+ scramble. We just followed our instincts, which took us straight over most stuff, but around one or two things.

Ridge walk

After some consideration, we decided that a good scrambler could stay right on top of every obstacle. And we had fun doing it.

Yes, there is a little loose rock, maybe even a lot. But what did you expect?

Climbing the ridge

On top, we found no sign of previous people.

So we built a cairn. It's very delicate and beautiful.


Also on top, we got a great view of where we had come from-- which is mostly where we needed to go now.

The car was parked at the extreme right-hand switchback. The 'trailhead' is at the lowest left-hand switchback.

On our descent of the ridge, we took a few easy alternates instead of staying right on the ridge.

South Mountain
It didn't take long and we were walking the seemingly endless road switchbacks to the top of South Twin. As the switchback intervals got shorter and shorter, we finally arrived at the summit. Lookout
I'm not kidding about the switchbacks. Switchbacks

When we got back to the car, we had a bite to eat, a little water, then drove to the saddle between South and North Twin. You might think driving sounds whimpy, but the north ridge on South Twin looks like a really bad place to take a hike.

You can see the lookout on the summit.

Saddle between North Twin and South Twin

As we walked the old fire line from the Sleeping Deer fire (this huge burn occurred in 2003) we felt like we were walking through a cemetery. So we veered a little further east and got into the trees, then onto the open slopes. Not nearly so unfriendly feeling.

Hiking up North Twin

We settled into a tempo and walked almost non-stop straight up the hillside. Then a short talus traverse brought us to the top. It was very windy, perhaps 35mph, so we didn't stay long. Besides, there was beer in the car.

North Twin summit
We were able to plunge-step the scree most of the way down, so it was a quick 20 minutes from the top to the cooler. Descent

We drove back down to Challis, where we got the big view (aka "photo grande"). Left to right: White Mountain, South Twin Mountain, and North Twin Mountain.

Then we drove down to the Bayhorse Rec Area campground to prepare for our climb tomorrow of Bald Mountain.

Big Dan's trip report.


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