|GPS:||48.642, -116.669 Google Map · Climbing Map|
|Shared By:||CDCPhotography on Apr 27, 2015|
|Admins:||WAGbag, Mike Engle|
Getting weather forecast...
DescriptionThe Selkirk Crest of the Selkirk Mountains lies within the borders of the Idaho Panhandle closer to Washington State to the west than Montana to the east. The west side is bordered by Priest Lake, whereas the east side lies against Highway 95 and the towns of Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry.
The Selkirk Crest is comprised of fantastic granite alpine climbing in a very secluded and rugged landscape. The area is made up of a mixture of huge white, grey, and black granite domes, shields, peaks, and faces. The most famous, and most popular crag of the area is Chimney Rock, which is a free standing tower perched on the end of a sharp ridge line in the heart of the Selkirk Crest. (See the Chimney Rock Area)
As stated before, this area is very secluded. Crowds are virtually unheard of at the higher elevations and anywhere above the valley floors and a couple of the alpine lakes. Typically the majority of the general public (Non-climbers) will be found at the water slides of Lion's Creek, the Harrison Lake trail head and trail on the Upper Pack River, and the Horton Ridge trail head to Mt. Ruthaan and Chimney Rock. The climbing community of this area is dedicated and very small. Some of this is due to the region as a whole having a relatively small climbing community and an even smaller group of alpine climbers despite there being fantastic climbing all around.
Weather in the Selkirks is typical of virtually any high alpine area in the Northwest. Most of climbing, if not all of the climbing is above the tree line, therefore it can get extremely windy. Summer time can be hot and is typically beautiful, but the weather changes very quickly. This trait is not unusual for mountains anyways. It is not uncommon to have 90 degree weather drop to the 40's in an hour with the arrival of a thunderstorm. Proper preparation is key in this area. Most routes have at least some sun during most, if not all of the day. This, of course, depends on the time of year. This area is pretty far north so the sun's declination (angle in the sky) changes drastically from winter to summer. This will be a determining factor is how hot or cool a route stays throughout the day.
Part of the reason this area sees so little climbing is due to the length and intensity of the approaches to the climbs. Although most of the approaches are less than 5 miles, they are often times brutal. Huge elevation gains in short distances on loose trails or across massive talus fields is the name of the game. Aside from a couple of the more regularly climbed spots, bushwhacking is necessary to get to some of the incredible off-the-beaten-path peaks and domes. And to the aspiring Selkirk Crest Climber, North Idaho bushwhacking is a notorious and special kind of hell. Alas! That is the adventure of alpine climbing!
The Selkirk Crest has typically very solid, high quality granite. Honestly, does it get any better than granite? The domes, shields, and faces are usually made up of both high and low angle slab with shallow sloping dishes, water-carved ripples, crystals and small crimp ledges. There is an abundance of large overlapping flakes and crack systems criss-crossing the faces of the routes. Chimney rock is vertical and made up of flakes, chimneys, and cracks. Early season is the most likely time that a climber would encounter large rock fall when there are large temperature fluctuations and water in the rocks.
The Selkirk Crest is a Traditional(TRAD) climbing area. (That means don't go up there and sport bolt routes) There are very few bolts to be found here. There are only a small handful of bolted belay stations in the entire area, most of which are on Chimney Rock. There may be one bolted pitch that was aided recently in the Lion's Creek area. There are climbs ranging from 2 pitches up to a partially finished 13 pitch route.
There is only one guidebook available for this area and that is "Climber's Guide to North Idaho & the Cabinet Wilderness" by Thaddeus Laird 2007. It is pretty thorough in some aspects but definitely out of date since there has been some significant rock fall on the East Face of Chimney Rock a few years ago. The book does not include the small, but locally significant, efforts to establish new climbs in the region.
And that is the reason for this posting. To help open up the pathways of information and hopefully show people a little bit of what North Idaho has to offer. After all, there is more to Idaho than Southern Idaho!
As always, please be respectful to our area. It is beautiful, pristine, and quiet. Let's do our best to keep it that way. See you on the rock!
Getting ThereThere are two basic ways to access the Selkirk Crest; from the East or from the West. To access places like Chimney Rock, Mt. Ruthaan, Lion's Head,and Lion's Creek the best access is from the West along Priest Lake. Navigate to the town of Priest River on Highway 2, then head North on Highway 57. Turn right at Dickensheet Rd approximately 27 miles following the signs to Priest Lake and the town of Coolin. Take a right on to East Shore Road (19 miles long before it becomes forest service road) and follow it to the desired road that will lead to one of the several climbing areas within the Selkirk Crest. Look to other areas submitted by fellow users and this one in the near future for specific directions to individual crags.
To access Harrison Peak, The High Traverse, Myrtle Peak, and Silver Dollar Peak drive in from the East following the Upper Pack River from Highway 95. Navigate to Sandpoint, either from the south coming up Highway 95 or from the west on Highway 2. Go north on 95 approximately 10 minutes from Sandpoint and turn left on Upper Pack River Rd at the Conoco Station (Samuel's Store). This road is 20 miles long and ends at the Harrison Lake trail head. It is unimproved after about 9 miles.
There is another access out of Bonners Ferry from the East and further north from Sandpoint about 40 minutes that will get a person to Myrtle Peak(Myrtle's Turtle) and Myrtle #2. Go to Bonners Ferry, turn left on to Riverside St right before the bridge crossing the Kootenai River. Stay on Riverside into the Kootenai Wildlife Refuge where it bears right and becomes West Side Rd. 1.25 miles past the Myrtle Falls Parking area make a left hand hairpin turn uphill. Stay on this road that will climb up above the valley and look down on Myrtle Creek drainage for about 20 miles until Myrtle Peak's ominous North Face can be seen looming above the road.
Many of the roads are unimproved Forest Service and Logging roads. A high clearance vehicle is absolutely necessary for many of the approaches to trail heads. The Upper Pack is the one exception. Something like an Outback is acceptable. Chimney Rock access from the west is the other extreme with 4 wheel drive and high clearance being imperative.
There are currently no required passes or fees needed to use this area.
Wildlife is abundant in this area. Most notable are the moose and bears (BOTH GRIZZLES AND BLACK). Please be extremely careful around these animals as they can be very dangerous. Bear Mace is HIGHLY recommended at a minimum. A sidearm is also a good idea.
Classic Climbing Routes at The Selkirk Crest
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season