Gem County Highpoint Trip Report
Date: June 24, 2009
This effort was part of a larger journey
collecting Idaho, Montana, and Washington county highpoints in late June and early July 2009.
From Edward Earl's report I learned that a 3,000+ foot prominence,
as Snowbank Mountain, could be nabbed while visiting Gem County.
Thus I drove the Snowbank Mountain summit road and camped overnight near the west summit's
Before supper I located what appears to be the highest natural ground, for Snowbank's
west summit, as a boulder immediately south (or southeast) of the leveled area.
A tree is growing atop the boulder; and so roots impede access to the boulder's tippy top.
In the morning I donned new, untested crampons because the first few hundred feet towards the
Gem County highpoint is a descent which had hard, crusty snow in the early hours.
After this roughly 300 foot downclimb I cached the crampons, with GPS-derived waypoint,
under a tree near the largely hidden jeep track I attempted to follow.
Gem County consumed more time than "normal" owing to lingering snow, I believe
some 3 1/4 hours for reaching the highpoint at WGS84 (44.49814° N, 116.15468° W),
measured elevation 7,959 feet.
On the return I retrieved my crampons, absolutely filthy from trudging through mud
that had but recently been covered in snow. I dredged them through snow in the attempt
to clean them before securing them in a crampon bag, thence lashed to the side of
I trudged uphill, cross-country, to the eastern summit of Snowbank Mountain.
Progress was slow, and tiring, as the snow was now quite soft and at times deep.
It was a thankless exercise that is avoidable by arriving later in the season.
After an eastern summit snack I trekked back, partly on the snowbound connecting road,
to the western summit and my waiting vehicle.
Author: Adam Helman
The FAA summit radar facility at
Snowbank Mountain's west summit.
The Gem County highpoint seen
from atop Snowbank Mountain.
(Mouse-click for detail.)