Sweeney Peak (9,161’), about seven miles west of Florence, is not difficult to climb. Its summit is visited all year long, especially by skiers who believe this mountain’s slopes offer some of the best backcountry skiing in the Bitterroot Mountains.
The most-used route to the summit uses the Sweeney Creek Trail for the initial 2.3 miles. Shortly after leaving the trail, the route closely follows the crest of the east ridge, all the way to the summit—a fairly easy Class 2 hike.
The Sweeney Creek Trial sees lots of hikers during the summer months (especially on weekends), though few bother to visit the summit to experience the wonderful views.
Another, more difficult and strenuous route, approaches the summit from the west along a long ridge which connects Sweeney and Lolo peaks. If a climber stays close to the ridge-crest, this route has one section which provides lower Class 5 climbing. However, it is possible to keep this entire route at or under Class 4 by dropping farther off the ridge around the most difficult section.—Michael Hoyt