Patterson Peak


We were originally going to try Castle Peak, but Patterson Peak was closer at hand in questionable weather. And well worth it!

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

We had been planning on attempting Castle Peak, but a check of the Forest Service web site said, "White Clouds: Fourth of July TH to Washington Lakes: Most of the trail is still under snowdrifts, with plenty of ice and mud present depending on the time of day. Not recommended."

We left town thinking we'd go into the Sawtooths instead, but when I saw them, I thought the White Clouds would be just fine. So back to plan A, and the drive up 4th of July road. The three of us left the truck at 6:05pm under sunny skies.

The weather-guessers were predicting afternoon thunderstorms. It took us a little over an hour to get to 4th of July Lake (1 1/4 miles?) and the weather wasn't looking real good. But it was trying.

Later that evening, the weather-guessers proved to be right. Thunder. Rain. Wind.

The next morning, Jasmine wanted to stay in the tent. Usually we make her go, as our favorite form of child abuse, but after last weekend's sufferfest, we relented and let her sleep in.

As Julie and I headed out, it was partly sunny. We decided to drop Castle and try something closer to hand: Patterson Peak. We first followed the trail over the ridge to Ants Basin, then walked the ridge towards Patterson, as recommended in Lopez's book 'Idaho Climbing Guide.' While this worked fine, it's a major long cut (as Julie kept pointing out).

Soon enough, we were on the ridge and heading for our goal.

As the morning went along, the clouds dissipated and it became quite sunny where we were. We made good progress up the improbable-looking ridge (Julie is in the lower right quadrant of the picture).


To Julie, the summit tower looked impossible. I told her, "Be patient, grasshopper. Let the mountain come to you." And then we were there, with the tip-top of Castle Peak in the background.

We made the summit in about two hours from the lake, despite the long cut. The golf club was on the summit, waiting. Alas, we had no golf balls.

Julie's back swing is a little weak, so she didn't even make the green.


My wife accuses me of having a wandering eye, but not in the conventional sense. From the summit (in the background) I could see these goat trails. They had to go somewhere!

So I had to go there, too.

As it turns out, if you are crazy enough to follow them, you gain access to Chamberlain Basin.

Here's what our day looked like. We traversed the ridge from the left, climbed Patterson just left of center, then dropped down and followed the goat trails to the saddle on the right.

Then we reversed tracks and headed back left on the ridge until we could drop down the scree to the valley below.

The big cliffs near the saddle may explain why Julie wasn't too thrilled with me chasing goat trails.

But when we finally crested the saddle overlooking Chamberlain Basin, with Castle Peak looking huge, I couldn't get her to leave. It was beautiful.

Looking the other way, we could see 4th of July Lake, and even spot our tent (you can't see it in the picture, though- too small).

While you look at this picture, the trail to Washington Lake goes through the pass to the left, and that is the high point for that trail. You see any snow down there? Thanks for the valuable information, Forest Service. We did not see any snow on the trail at all, although we did see some mud, especially noticeable where the motorcycles had been going through.

And that scree field we came down? If you want to know what it was like, this picture gives an idea. Note, though, that this was NOT taken from the bottom!

Epilogue: That afternoon, we walked over the hill to Washington Lake (recommended). Then, back at camp, it started raining again and rained off-and-on all night. So the next morning, we abandoned our plan to climb the peak behind 4th of July Lake (see picture above) and headed home.

And boy were we glad to get away from the mosquitoes.


Mr. Natural Home | 2005 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski