Lemhi County High Point Trip Report

Bell Mountain (11,612 ft)

Date: July 28, 2001
Author: Ken Jones

Drive: From Howe, ID (on combined SR 22/33) proceed northwesterly on the unnumbered "Pahsimeroi Highway" up the Little Lost River Valley. (You could also come from Salmon, to the north.) Shortly beyond the end of the pavement, you'll see a road heading down to your right toward some sheep pens. It is signed as private (hunting club) property, but the sign indicates that public access is permitted if you stay on the main road. Follow the main road down about 3/4 mile past the pens. It begins to wind somewhat, and crosses the Little Lost River on a bridge. Continue up the alluvial fan on the other side of the valley, still on the main roadway. You'll reach a wire gate just before you reach the mouth of Basinger Canyon. Pass through the gate (closing it behind you) and bear left up the canyon. The road gets progressively rougher as it heads up the canyon, and narrow in a few spots, but 4WD and some downed-branch removal got us to the bend in the road in the canyon at about 7600 feet.

Hike: We crossed Bell Mountain Creek (a dry bed, when we were there) and picked our way southeast up the tributary canyon - which meets it at 7600 feet - for a few hundred yards. Then we climbed more southerly up steep, wooded slopes until we reached the west ridge of Bell Mountain at about 9800 feet. We turned left (east) and followed the ridge to the base of the main summit block at about 11,000 feet. Some rocky areas between 10,200 and 10,600 required route-finding and scrambling (class 2 to 3) and were probably the crux of the route. From the base of the summit block at 11,000 feet head toward the summit up gullies.

We found that whenever things got steeper and more exposed, we could traverse farther right (south) and find easier terrain in another chute, all the way to the summit. This last 600 feet of gain is high class 2 to low class 3; most of the serious Northwest scramblers I know would call it class 2.

On our return, we took the ridge that heads directly northwest from point 10,201 feet, traversing right at about 9,400 feet into a gully which we followed to Bell Mountain Creek. We followed cattle paths in the creek bottom back to the vehicle. This route was not necessarily better than the way we went up. The woods on all these ridges appeared to be pretty open, and I expect you can make a reasonable route from wherever you can get your vehicle to in Basinger Canyon.