Sitting high on the canyon’s north rim, behind the gendarmes guarding its south side, the summit of East Sheafman Peak (8,650’) cannot be seen from the Sheafman Creek Trail. In comparison with the eye-catching gendarmes and pinnacles a person sees while climbing toward the rim, when the summit finally becomes visible it seems unimposing, almost disappointing. However, once the actual summit is reached any sense of disillusionment quickly evaporates.
The north side of East Sheafman Peak is one of the most shear faces in the Bitterroots, dropping away in stages many hundreds of feet. Guarded by some truly gargantuan pillars and pinnacles, the north side of East Sheafman Peak will steal your breath and, if you’re standing close to the edge, provide a case of vertigo you’ll not soon forget.
Beginning at the Sheafman Creek Trailhead, the most direct route to this peak goes off-trail exactly 4 miles from the trailhead. After leaving the trail, the best track (Class 2+) climbs northward up a large chute to a saddle a short distance west of the summit. From the saddle it’s a short uphill hike to the highpoint.—Michael Hoyt