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Ascent of South Butte on 2020-08-20

Climber: Daniel Coulter

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, August 20, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:South Butte
    Location:USA-Idaho
    Elevation:6994 ft / 2131 m

Ascent Trip Report

Access: I accessed South Butte from the west and it was a very tedious drive. From Clarkia, I took NF-301 to NF-457 to Buzzard Roost Rd as others have. This was also the route Google Maps found, so you should be safe to use it to get to South Butte. In fact, I highly recommend having a GPS or maps, since the roads in this area are not well marked at all. From Clarkia, it is about 30 miles of unpaved roads to the trailhead. The first 9 miles of NF-301 are in excellent condition due to its use as a haul road for logging in the area. However, NF-301 suddenly becomes a minor road requiring high clearance, and the going is slow from here on out. There are several sections of very rough and rocky road and high clearance is a must. Previous reports have claimed a sedan might be able to make it all the way, which is certainly no longer the case. I parked at a small turnout at the saddle south of South Butte near the ATV trail.

The Climb: I took the ATV trail, which quickly gains elevation. Eventually, an intersection of sorts is encountered with the ATV trail continuing to the right and a foot trail leading uphill straight ahead. Take the foot trail here. I took the ATV trail, which quickly petered out, so I had to go cross country to regain the trail. I followed the trail until I was due west of the summit and then I went cross country to the summit. The summit has the foundations of what may have once been a lookout and a benchmark, but I couldn't find a register. Dark clouds started forming, so I quickly hurried back down after 5 minutes at the summit. For reference, Ken Jones's GPS track is useful since nothing is signed, but note that he also missed the trail on the way up.

My Thoughts: Quite possibly my lowest bang for the buck climb to date. About 6 hours of driving, largely along rough roads, for less than 1 hour of hiking. But it was an Idaho p2k that needed to be done and today was the day. At least the views from the summit were pretty good. The route from Avery sounds much more pleasant, so maybe taking that route would make this a better climb.

I am always looking for climbing partners, so feel free to contact me if you want to team up.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:728 ft / 221 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.6 mi / 2.6 km
    Route:Use Trail
    Trailhead:Buzzard Roost Rd  6266 ft / 1909 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Time:25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:20 Minutes



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