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The Peaks of Henrys Lake Rick Baugher

View NW from Lionhead el 9547' on 3/26/95 by Rick Baugher







The Peaks of Henrys Lake

Scattered across the western United States are select areas known for deep snow accumulation. Thanks to topography and convergence of favorable weather patterns the Henrys Lake Mountains of Fremont County Idaho is one of these deep snow zones. It is no wonder that nearby West Yellowstone, Montana, along with Island Park, Idaho, is known as the snowmobile capital of the United States. A favored snow machine destination is Lionhead el 9547' on the Idaho-Montana Continental Divide. While perhaps not a test-piece, certainly anyone who can put a sled on the Lionhead summit has earned bragging rights.

On 3/26/95 my goal was to enter, on skis, this lair of the snowmachine. From Targhee Pass el 7072' on US 20, I skied north along the Continental Divide. After breaking trail a couple of miles in rolling forested terrain I was getting bogged down. Where are the snowmobile tracks anyway? Once out on the ridge above the old Lionhead Ski Area the tracks came up en masse from the Montana side. Except for a narrow corniced ridge with a notch, it was a superhighway to Lionhead. Yet, there was no traffic today- good deal!

View NW from Lionhead el 9547' on 3/26/95. A few feet behind me the summit view was marred by someone's soiled, and now frozen, underwear hanging from a tree snag. Getting to the top must have been too much excitement for this individual.

For me, Mount Two Top el 8710' was a coveted peak. It had been on my 'to do' list for ages. In summer, this is Situation 1 grizzly bear habitat, and in winter the snowmobile is king. On 3/29/97, risking a parking ticket, I pulled off US 20, and began a long kick and glide- mostly kick- east across Henrys Lake Flat then up the major 'bile highway of Twin Creek. As altitude was gained the tracks diminished and the scenic views increased exponentially, culminating in Two Top's cozy north summit.

Snow ghosts. Photo by Rick Baugher.

The snow ghosts of Two Top are famous. Here's one celebrity. Peaks on left: Sawtell and Jefferson. Frozen Henrys Lake on right.

Summit Mount Two Top el 8710', view SE on 3/29/97 by Rick Baugher

Summit Mount Two Top el 8710', view SE on 3/29/97. Those are my tracks over to south summit..... btw/ no parking ticket.

I have always admired Gilman Sawtelle. The 1860's first white settler on the shores of Henrys Lake understood the real estate maxim 'location, location, location'. His business plan exhibited simple elegance- catch as many lake trout as you can and sell them to Montana gold miners for an exorbitant profit.
Sawtell Peak el 9902', with its giant FAA tower on top is the beacon of Island Park, Idaho. Likewise, my plan to ski this easternmost Centennial peak was elegantly simple. Park at the staging area at the base of the mountain, then follow the snowbound access road 7 miles to the top. This grade is groomed periodically, but today the road was gated shut. This meant no snow machines. I assumed it was ok to ski. After all, it is national forest land. No one kicked me off. Coming off the top the idea is to cut switchbacks, that is, pick a fall line powder shot, rejoin the road, then repeat, being careful not to get lost. Stories have circulated about lost skiers on this multi faceted mountain. Grizzlies den on the peak's north side.


High on Sawtell Peak's south side 3/20/00 by Rick Baugher

High on Sawtell Peak's south side a powder shot rejoins the 'groomed' access road, 3/20/00.

Winter fun courtesy of
Rick Baugher


Photos and information by Rick Baugher

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