Selkirk Crest Ski Trek

SUNDAY, MAY 26, 1996


Distance: 10-1/2 miles (minimum)

Difficulty: Very difficult

Skiing time: 2 to 3 days

Season: Jan. through Early June

Maps: USGS Pyramid Peak, Smith Peak, Roman Nose, Wigwams

Info: Bonners Ferry Ranger District, (208) 267-5561


Access: Myrtle Creek trailhead: From State Highway 95 at downtown Bonners Ferry, turn west on Riverside Street toward Boundary County Fairgrounds and Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Drive 5-1/3 miles to T and bear right onto West Side Road. Drive another 1-1/2 miles, passing Myrtle Falls trailhead, and turn left (west) onto Myrtle Creek Road 633. Summer trailhead for Trail 268 about 10 miles up road, but skiers may not be able to drive that far until sometime in June.

Trout Creek trailhead: From junction with Myrtle Creek Road, continue north on West Side Road 1-3/4 miles and turn left (west) on Trout Creek Road 634. Go 9-1/2 miles to Trail 13. Entire road not open until perhaps mid-June.

Attractions: Off-trail wilderness route linking high ridges with endless views on spine of Idaho Selkirk Mountains. Remote areas offer untracked backcountry downhill skiing. Spring provides best and safest snow conditions for travel. By sometime in June, expect mix of skiing and hiking. Possibility of seeing endangered woodland caribou.

Hazards: Remoteness, variable snow and weather conditions, cornices, several steep stretches, avalanche potential.

Comments: Trip can start from either Trout Creek trailhead at elev. 5,400 feet or Myrtle Creek trailhead at 4,160. Better to drive to highest access if possible. But road conditions prevented such logic for our trip, so narrative begins from Myrtle Creek.

Route description purposely general. Many variations possible, and often necessary depending on snow and weather conditions. Map, compass skills required. Climbing skins, avalanche transceivers, snow shovels highly recommended. Do not attempt route when avalanche potential high.

From Myrtle Creek Road, hike or ski up closed road which becomes Trail 268. Trail switchesback (shows on east edge of Wigwams topo just south of Peak Creek). At elev. 4,840 feet, head off-trail westward into gentle slopes of open timber. Good camping. Continue westward up ridge toward Kent Lake. (Good views southward to Harrison Peak.) At elev. 6,400 feet, drop off north side of ridge and contour to adjoining ridge, heading northward on east side of scenic Kent Lake basin along Myrtle Creek Game Preserve Boundary.

Negotiate several short steep sections on ridge. Campsites near base of Myrtle Peak.

Longest sustained climb gains 1,100 feet up southwest side of Myrtle Peak, elev. 7,122. Using skins, climb takes about an hour.

Continue north (onto Smith Peak topo) along ridge on west side of Myrtle Lake. Campsites. Note possible bail-out route heads eastward down Turk Creek to Ball Creek Road.

Contour around east side of 6,865-foot knob to avoid steep pitch on north side. (Excellent views westward toward The Lions Head.) Campsites.

At knob elev. 6,923 feet, head off east side of ridge (onto Pyramid Peak topo). Contour at elev. 6,650 and head north along east side of Ball Lakes. Good camping.

Ski north over knob elev. 7,025 feet and carefully down ridge. At elev. 6,760 feet, head off east side of ridge (contouring below avalanche slopes) to good campsites just south and east of Pyramid Peak. Good skiing. Try side trip to Pyramid Pass.

One-hour, downhill bushwack southeast to Trout Creek trailhead mostly easy, unless you blunder into small area of rock outcroppings.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map: Selkirk Crest Ski Trek

MEMO: See related story under the headline: Selkirk solitude

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest

See related story under the headline: Selkirk solitude

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest

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