Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sunset Mountain 2-13-2016

Almost three years after my first attempt, I returned to finish the last mile to the lookout tower on the summit.

Partners: N/A.

Stats: 8.6 miles and 1,700ft of gain to summit elevation 7,869ft in 5 hours round trip. Class 1.

Gear notes: Snowshoes.

Links: Sunset Mountain on Idaho: A Climbing GuideSunset Mountain on Summitpost.orgSunset Mountain on

Pilot Peak.

From Mores Creek Summit, you have two main options for peaks: Pilot Peak to the west and Sunset Mountain to the east. I've done Pilot's a few times before and prefer to go late season, after the snow mobiles stop using it. Sunset is relatively benign and makes for a great snowshoe outing to a lookout tower on the summit. Three years ago, I made my first hike up it, but unfortunately we picked the warmest day so far of that spring and were stopped about a mile from the top in deep mashed potato snow that was non-conducive to the cause.

Sunset Mountain zoomed out.

I arrived at MCS about 8:45 and the parking lot soon filled up as it often times does on the weekend. The quiet morning was soon pierced by the cacophony of the ever growing snow machine population.

Sunset Mountain zoomed in.

After the road up Sunset Mountain passes over the first hill, the noise died down and the peacefulness of a quite morning on the trail alone was restored.

Looking up the north slope.

This hike doesn't have much gain, but the mileage is no joke. Mostly cloudy skies and low lighting wasn't the best for picture taking early on. There was an obvious trail broken up the north slope to the lookout, but I stuck to the road on the way up.

Looking southwest from the trail.

The route was easily followed, but I could see how some difficulty would arise after heavy snowfall. This was simply a matter of following the tracks to the top.

Looking up the trail.

Little sunlight and a cold breeze made for a chilly hike near the top.


Soon the lookout came into view and not long after that, I was standing on it.

Looking south from the summit.

It is a fine spot for a lookout tower indeed. These are not the tallest peaks, but the view is quite expansive and worth the effort to attain it.

Looking southeast from the summit.

The clouds were beginning to break up which helped open up the view a bit.

Looking south with peak 7,460 in the background.

Peak 7,460 was not far due south, but I decided to not get greedy and didn't go for it.

Looking west from the summit.

A stiff and cold breeze was still present, so I hunkered down on the leeward side of the lookout for a break with an eastern view.

Looking east from the summit.

Sunset Mountain is definitely not a bad spot to have some lunch.

On the lookout.

After 30 minutes on top, I figured I might was well head down.

Hey, how about that shortcut?

Looking down the north slope.

The steep north slope was still shaded and had deep powdery snow. This track probably saved about 1.5 miles and soon rejoined the road right at the base.

On the trail.

The sun finally broke though and the day began to warm up.

Southwest view.

I forgot just how busy MCS is on a weekend and I'm glad my car didn't get boxed in; that's happened before. There were a lot of people out near the parking lot, but I had the upper mountain and summit all to myself.

Another benefit of an early start!

Happy trails. Granola, out.

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