Ascent of Bell Mountain on 2011-08-15

Climber: Dennis Poulin

Date:Monday, August 15, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bell Mountain
    Elevation:11612 ft / 3539 m

Ascent Trip Report

I approached Bell Mtn from the little town of Howe on Hwy 33. Zero your odometer and go north on the Little Lost River Hwy, at 31.6 miles the pavement ends, and at 32.1 miles turn right on a gravel road, at 32.6 cross a cattle guard, at 33.1 go right then left, cross the creek and then take the left forl. At 33.5 cross another cattle guard, at 34.1 take the right fork, and at 36.0 go through aa losed barb wire gate. At 36.1 there is a Challis National Forest sign, at 36.8 an open metal gate, at 37.3 cross a creek, at 37.6 there is an old log cabin on the right, and at 38.0 miles park at elevation 7,600 ft. There isn't really a parking area, just a couple wide spots in the bushes. Just past where I parked, the road takes a sharp left turn away from the creek and towards the old mining area.

I hiked up the road to where it turned left, but continued straight on an ATV track until it ended at the bottom of the drainage. From there I hiked southeast up the forested slope. The hiking is easy through the forest and the slope moderate at first. The slope increases once you get above 8,200 ft and at 9,100 ft I was climbing talus up to about 9,600 ft. I finally gained the ridge at about 10,000 ft between points 10,201 and 10,226 on the topo.

I turned east and could see some obstacles ahead. The first one was a rock outcrpping of white rocks with black spots. The trail leads right up on top of this rocky point, but then it ends because there is no way down the east side of the rocks. I had to climb down the south side about 40 ft where others had gone. I think you could bypass this obstacle on the south if you just leave the ridge early and walk around the bottom of the rocks.

Once past these black and white rocks, there is a large orange cliff band that blocks passage on the ridge. Fortunatley it is easy to go left and and bypass this obstacle also. Once beyond the orange cliff band the rocky summit "bell" of Bell Mtn looms directly ahead. It looks imposing.

I tried to follow a climbers trail and it worked well. The rocky bell part is about 700 ft high. I followed the climbers trail directly up the west ridge for the first 400 ft and then it ran into a dead end. I knew there must be a way up, so I looked around, crossed a rocky rib on my right and entered a large gully that looked like it would go all the way to the summit. I stored my trekking poles, put on by gloves and entered the gully. There are a series of ramps and ledges that lead back and forth up the gully and I used them to make progress. I think this gully rates Class 3 and there are no technical moves. I stayed in the gully until I topped out right next to the summit that is on the left side at the top. If others had been climbing with me, I would have been concerned with rock fall in this last section. There is some scree and lose rocks that are easy to kick down. A rock hat may be prudent.

Fantastic views from the summit of Bell Mtn including nearby Borah Peak. On my descent I butt scooted several times in the gully section. This is a great climb and lots of fun.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4120 ft / 1255 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.9 mi / 9.5 km
    Route:Bassinger Cyn/West Rdg
    Trailhead:7492 ft / 2283 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dennis Poulin
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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