February 26, 2016
Scotchman’s is the highest peak in the Idaho portion of the Cabinet Mountains. Thanks to the fine work of Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness (see www.scotchmanpeaks.org) the lower section of the trail has been rerouted to make for an easier ascent from the trailhead. Trail #65 is the starting point of the hike to the 7009’ summit. We found one of the few blue sky days of the winter for our attempt. We made our way up to the 3,300’ trailhead but could not quite drive the last 100 yards due to snow. Jeff Beeman, Don Otis and Cathy Schuller set out just before 9:00 am. This is an entirely different climb in the winter and takes nearly twice the time so be prepared for an arduous day. At about 5,000’ we were in snowshoes. The ridge had the typical breeze but the temperatures were mild for this time of the year. We reached the summit about 1:00 pm but found the descent took us only two hours (in some ways easier in the snow). The vertical gain is 3700’ over eight miles. The views are well worth the effort. Once you reach the ridge, everything opens up. Take the ridge Northeast and you can’t miss the high point. Be aware that the road leading to the trailhead is muddy by afternoon (assuming it is frozen in the morning). It is easy to get stuck so don’t attempt it with a 2WD sedan.
Photo # 1 – Looking Northeast about 200’ below the summit.
Photo #2 – Don Otis and Cathy Schuller with “Mad Max”
Photo # 3 – Looking Southwest toward Lake Pend Orielle from near the summit
Photo #4 – Looking along the summit ridge