Hyndman Peak, east of Sun Valley, Idaho, is the crown of the Pioneer Range at 12,009 feet. The Range, also known as the “Alps of Idaho” are as stunning in presence from a distance,as also when explored from within. Sharp, jagged aretes and summits, impossible faces of nearly 3000 vertical feet of relief, lonesome approaches, and few visitors make this range a scramblers heaven. Hyndman is the is the 9th highest peak in Idaho.
I set out on August 8th for a day hike to the summit, the popular route begins at the Hyndman Creek Trailhead, which is accessed from Ketchum by heading south to the East Fork Road, continuing east through the old mining town of Triumph. Shortly thereafter, take a left and head up the North Fork of Hyndman Creek, traveling to the trailhead- which has a few primitive campsites, and an outhouse. It’s 7 am on a Thursday, and there are no other cars at the trailhead.
The well established trail heads east, through aspen groves and slowly gains elevation. Today, it’s 12 miles roundtrip and 5000 feet of elevation gain. I spot a moose in an expansive meadow, but am unable to get my camera on her as she spots me as well and ambles into the trees. The trail soon steepens considerably and heads north, then east again as it gains Hyndman Basin. The wildflowers are abundant, and the craggy summit of Old Hyndman Peak, and the impressive north face of Cobb Peak drops nearly 2000 feet from it’s summit. Hyndman looms straight ahead. The trail is somewhat distinct in places, less so as the elevation increases. A small but gorgeous, and crystal clear lake reflects the summit, and the surrounding basin. There is no one else around! Soon the scrambling begins as the trail disappears, and the next objective is the saddle between Hyndman and Old Hyndman. The view into the other side is impressive, with the alpine splendor of Wildhorse Canyon dropping precipitously on the other side, and extending in the distance to the highest range in Idaho- the Lost River Range. Borah Peak, the highest in the state, is somewhat distinguishable through a light, smoky haze.
Dark clouds are gathering in the west, but nothing appears to be precipitating, or electric, so a push to the summit is in order. The ridge is highly exposed, and the drop to the east is vertiginous, there would be nowhere to hide up here. The scrambling is steep and slow, although the summit is eventually attained, and the view is outstanding! Jagged peaks unfold in every direction, and meld into more rounded hills towards the Smoky Mountains to the West. Bald Mountain and the Sun Valley Ski Hill are easy to spot, and you are definitely looking down on them. Alps of Idaho indeed.
The clouds continue to gather, so I don’t linger to long on the summit. The register in the box lends evidence that no one has been up here for a few days, and only a couple of folks in the past two weeks. Although touted as being the third most sought after summit in Idaho, the register suggest otherwise. Someone however, has left a banner in the summit box that when unfurled provides a shot proving that this is indeed the summit of Hyndman Peak, 12,009. Way off in the distance I can see a rising column of smoke, the beginning of the Beaver Creek Fire that was started by lightning last night, the beast that this blaze would grow into is unforeseen.
The route is roughly retraced, and the rain catches me back in the basin, although somewhat typical for this time of year, it only lasts 10 minutes. I take a break back at the small alpine lake to refuel and enjoy the view of the Pioneer Triumvirate of Hyndman, Old Hyndman, and Cobb. The latter two are definitely worthy objectives for future exploring, both in the summer, and for some incredible ski descents that I’ve heard of. I retrace my route back to the trailhead, where my truck is still the only vehicle around.