Elephant's Perch


A massive granite wall in the Sawtooths, Elephant's Perch is a technical climb.

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This was Brian's and Vince's first visit to Idaho's beautiful Sawtooth range, so John guided them while telling tall tales of hiking into "Shangri-La" in the early 70's. Back then there was no trail, and he hadn't seen any lakes.

On this day, we hiked up a climber's trail to the Saddleback Lakes and camped near where Brian and Vince are standing in the picture. Our proposed route for tomorrow basically follows the left hand skyline.

The next morning we got an early start and the three of us climbed the Mountaineer's route, shown by the line on the left. We had a great time and stayed cool despite an unusually hot day, thanks to a breeze and the shaded route- no sun until the last pitch at about 1pm.

The following day Brian and Vince climbed Astro-Elephant, the 5.10+ line on the right. We knew it would be hot due to the more southerly exposure.

John woke the boys at 4:30am for coffee and bagels by headlamp. They were tying in at 6:15, but the sun caught them around 9:30, still below the tree ledge marking the top of pitch 4. It would be a long, hot day.

Here Vince does a wide stem in the crack below the "5.7" face moves. This part of the route was difficult and sometimes scary: it seemed under-rated and was often difficult to protect resulting in committed run-outs.

While Brian and Vince climbed Astro-Elephant, John scrambled a nearby peak for a view of the range. The indicated peak was the highest point on this ridge system.

From the top of the peak he scrambled, John could see the Perch and watch the boys with binoculars.

He could also see some of the incredible alpine setting that makes the Perch so fabulous.

Unfortunately, a fire was burning just north of Stanley (actually reported to the Forest Service by our team during our drive on Sunday) leaving a smoggy haze in the air.

The following day we decided to attempt a few pitches of the Beckey route before hiking back to Redfish Lake.

Here Vince leads the first pitch in the foreground (upper right corner), while in the background an unnamed climber approaches the "triple overhangs" of the Mountaineer's route.

What started as a bluebird day became alarmingly smoky in just the short time it took to do the first pitch. We later found out that there was a major fire burning about 25 miles away in Atlanta.

Here Brian works a crack system lower on the the same pitch as above, while on the Mountaineer's route a climber has moved around the overhangs to access the arete.

By the time we hiked down to Redfish and caught the boat back to the lodge, the smoke was thick enough to obscure our view of Mt. Heyburn.

Mr. Natural Home | 2003 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski