Ascent of Smoky Dome on 2012-07-17

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Smoky Dome
    Elevation:10095 ft / 3076 m

Ascent Trip Report

On US-20 at virtual mile 144.2, I turned N on 800W (also signed as Wilson Ln). This point is 7½ miles E of the Camas/Elmore county line. Call the turnoff mile 0.0. At mile 2.0 I turned L (W) on 200N. At mile 4.6 I turned R (N) on 1100W where the condition of the road straight ahead would deteriorate. At mile 5.6 is a large dirt parking area with restroom facilities and an information sign. I turned L immediately after this. At 6.1 miles is a ranch gate with signage saying please stay on the road as it crosses private property. There is also a sign-in register. I opened the gate, drove through, and closed it behind me. At mile 9.7 is a major side road going L. I stayed straight and immediately went through another similar ranch gate. At 11.7 miles the road made a sharp L turn where a side road goes R. At 12.8 miles I stayed straight where side roads went both L and R. At 13.6 miles I passed some corrals on the L. At 14.2 miles a narrow rough road branches R; this is the road that gets one closer to Smoky Dome. I turned onto this road. My 2WD high-clearance Nissan pickup did OK for about a mile, but then I encountered a deep rut which I decided was too risky to try to negotiate. I bailed and retreated back to the main road.

There was, however, plenty of opportunity to park on the main road, which I did, and this is where I began my hike up the road I had tried to drive. For the first half hour of hiking time the road made a gradual ascending traverse with a gully on the L. At (coordinates derived from ACME, not GPS) the road made a sharp R where a side road continues straight ahead. At is a sharp L on top of a ridge where a side road goes R. Once on the ridge, I went L at two more junctions thereafter. ACME shows that the road ends just before point 7809, but in reality the road continues around the L (W) side of it, traverses across the saddle behind it and begins to climb the steep hill ahead. I wondered how far up I should follow it before traversing into the basin on the R side (which would be necessary at some point since that is the direction to Smoky Dome). Then, at (43.4811N, 114.9582W, 7937') (coordinates derived from my GPS this time), God smiled. A good trail branched off to the R, gradually ascending at the perfect angle. It was hard to tell whether the trail was mad- or animal-made, but I gave it a try. It made for easy going through dense sagebrush terrain that would otherwise be considerably more effort. The creek at the bottom of the gully eventually rose to the level of the gradually ascending trail. After following the creek for a few minutes' hiking time, it began to fade, and I decided it was about time to cross the creek and climb the hill on the opposite side, which I did. I soon reached a bare sandy bench by a large multi-trunk dead tree, which serves as a useful landmark for retracing the same route down. I continued to climb the steep sagebrush hillside, traversing slightly R, crossing the occasional creeklet, and continuing upward through a scattered stand of trees. I continued this course across a talus field, eventually reaching the main ridge W of point 9884. From here it is a simple and straightforward talus scramble, occasionally laced with krumholtz, to the summit.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3466 ft / 1055 m
    Extra Gain:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Trailhead:FR 484  6749 ft / 2057 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 

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