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Routes in Blacksmith Peak

Forge, The T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
North Arete T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Description


This is an attractive peak that is guarded by a short and steep cross country approach. This area hat has epic camping (at glacier lake), a wilderness feel, stunning views and a burly northwest face. Rock quality is generally great and lacks the crowds of the nearby little slide canyon routes. There are several high quality burly routes on the face (NW Face - IV 5.11,The Forge, III 5.11), a fun ridge climb (N. arete - III 5.10), and it is also the starting or ending point of the entire sawtooth range traverse (IV 5.8). There is also a wealth of virgin granite on some of the rock formations passed on the approach up blacksmith canyon, as well as some established routes below blacksmith peak such as "Orange smith" (a 10 pitch 1996 Fred Becky route just below Glacier Lake). This is a great place to explore and has a wilder feeling than the nearby horse creek or little slide canyon drainages of the sawtooth range


More info can be found here: Summit Post


Wilderness Permits are required if you are spending the night and these can be obtained at the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest Visitor Center in Bridgeport. Bear Canisters are required and they are very active in this area. We saw a bear both on the hike in and on the hike out of the canyon.

Getting There

Driving.

From the town of Bridgeport head west on twin lakes road (turnoff from us 395 is at a shell station at the north end of town). Follow this road until it ends up in a campground (twin lakes resort) You can pay for parking in their private hiker parking lot ($7/day), or park in one of the many pullouts found along twin lakes and walk in. Note there are a few pullouts near the campground with no overnight parking signs so it's best to avoid these spaces. It is best to make sure and not have any food or scented items in your car when you leave as this campground is a hotspot for anarchist bears who are into vandalism and high calorie human food.

Approach

Those intending to climb in blacksmith canyon may very well have climbed in the sawtooths in the past but should not assume that this has a similar approach to other popular routes up horse creek or little slide canyon. It is a short and direct approach that gains 3000' in a couple of miles, but does not follow a well established use trail like the hulk or a maintained trail like Matterhorn. Depending on where you travel up blacksmith - you may encounter casual side hill walking on a faint trail through a gentle mix of conifers or end up swimming through dense growths of young aspens - cursing Claude Fiddler for including this peak twice in his book of classics...I've done both options.



The approach begins by passing the kiosk (7,100') of the campground entrance and slinking through the creepy make of RV's on steroids complete with astro turf and lawn ornaments. If you are waking through in the evening you may encounter most of these campers enjoying the cool twin lakes evening air punctuated by the roar of their generators and several of their neighbors generators unobtrusively purring quietly enough not to drown out the sports game or evening news flickering on their big screen streaming through their RV mounted satellite dish.... (Ok enough of that rant but every time I walk through the campground, it creeps the hell out of me).

....so from the kiosk head straight back and slightly left into the campground aiming for the south side of the meadow that is at the back of the canyon (opposite side as the little slide canyon approach). Once on the south side of the meadow keep looking to your left for signs of Robinson creek right behind the campsites. There are a few great log bridges to cross the creek. (You can also cross the large wooden bridge at the point where Robinson creek enters twin lakes, but the campground approach is more direct and saves time.

Once on the south side of Robinson creek walk a dirt road until it turns to single track. Begin angling up the hillside through an area of many broken branches and downed trees. (Probably old avy debris) note that this is quite a ways before blacksmith creek enters Robinson creek. Hike uphill for several minutes through thicker conifers until you can reach more open sage covered slopes above. Angle uphill sometimes "forging" straight up gaining elevation Along various game and use trails staying well east of horse creek. Work up this steepest section side hulling and climbing until you flatten out at a bench about 200 ft above the creek and start to follow the creek staying east and well above it. We were able to follow side hill and use trails and did not bushwhack at all on the way down (going up we stayed west of the creek and this was... The worst bushwhacking I have ever done in the Sierra .... To get back on route.

Follow use trails through rocks and trees never getting tempted to get too close to river level. We saw the occasional duck but it seems like straightforward cross country travel where no one spot is better than another....



As you near the fork of avalanche creek again stay a few hundred feet uphill and to the east of the confluence crossing avalanche creek and then working across a talus field staying high to avoid the lower aspen choked terrain. Beyond this there there are several more shorter talus fields and some amazing granite towers on either side of the canyon. You will be staying entirely on the east side of blacksmith creek up until this point. You will pass a section where the creek comes very near a cliff and hug the cliff as you travel right next to the cliff. Above that at about 9200' you will pass a few bivy sites on a flat bench in some trees, and beyond after some talus slopes the creek will enter a canyon where you will cross and move to the west side of the creek for the remainder of the approach to glacier lake (10,100'). Once at the lake there are nice bivy spots at the southwest corner of the lake.

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