Only 2.3 miles west of his smaller brother—Little Saint Joe—on the same east-west ridge, at 9,587’, this massive summit is the ninth-highest peak in the Bitterroot Mountains. Reaching the summit of Saint Joseph Peak is arduous no matter what the season. Backcountry skiers love the huge bowls on the north side for winter and spring skiing, and many area residents consider reaching the vast summit of this peak a once-in-a-lifetime goal any time of year.
Although overly ambitious souls may reach this peak by climbing directly from the drainages on the north (Sweeney Creek) or south (Bass Creek), the most sensible routes begin at the Bass Creek Overlook and proceed along the ridge-crest over Little Saint Joe. The most strenuous portions of these routes occur during the initial approach to Little Saint Joe.
The ridge between Little Saint Joe and Saint Joseph Peak requires more route-finding skills and better climbing abilities, but the elevation gain is comparatively low. The summit can be gained by going up the north-east face (Class 3), the south ridge (Class 2+), or right up the cliff-bands guarding the east ridge (Class 5).—Michael Hoyt