Braxon Peak

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Braxon Peak is said to have the best view in the Sawtooths.

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

After a 5am departure from Boise, we made a very smooth transition to the Redfish Lake boat ride under total fog, left the boat dock at 8:30am, and were soon walking up Redfish Creek under clear skies.

Redfish Creek trail

The beta we had said to turn uphill when you arrive at the turn-off to the climber's trail to the Elephant's Perch. That's fine if you like brush. Instead, as you're getting near to the turn-off, you'll see a short (4'?) bridge over a creek, backtrack about 100' and head up there. You still have about 400' of elevation to bushwhack, but it's pretty open country.

After climbing a ways, you will run into a cliff. Swing climber's right and follow the dry gully until it's quite obvious it's not the right one. Scramble climber's left and start angling west as you go up. Following intermittent trail (of sorts), you will skirt below slabby sections several times as you head for the creek that drains the Braxon basin. When you get near that creek, follow it on up.

Traversing slabs while following the creek

As you traverse the hillside, you will pass below lots of really cool rocks.

Towers

You don't actually see the summit until you gain the upper basin at around 8500' or so. The summit is marked with a red slash above it.

Braxon Peak summit from a distance

There are two lakes or tarns. This one is right on your route. You climb up the headwall and follow the valley to the right.

We didn't really get into the snow until right before the lake. There was a fair amount of snow up here, but it was easy walking.

Tarns on the route

When you get into the upper part of the valley, you'll have to pick a route to gain the ridge. We went up one way and descended another. If the snow is gone, the route will likely be more obvious.

Lunch spot with the summit in the background

The way we went up involved some Class 4 scrambling.

Shortcut, anyone?

Scrambling the rock to the ridge.

When we got to the ridge, the snow was unconsolidated. We were going in past our knees, and deeper. We slugged it out, finally getting to dry ground. The sand-dune nature of the scree was a lot of work, but better than the slurpy snow.

 

Tom on the final ridge
We did have one or two sections of slurpy snow yet to climb to get to the summit, some of it very steep. And in places, the snow was thin- note the dark areas under the snow here. Overall, not conducive to ice axe work, so we had to be careful.
Avoiding the slurpy  snow

We got to the summit at about 12:15, just under 4 hours from the dock. We didn't take a lot of breaks, but we also didn't climb super fast. Probably the key to doing this climb in good time is navigating through the cliffs, brush, etc.

As you can see, the summit is a big, flat sand dune. With an outstanding view.

Tom and John

Now, about that view.....

...that's Tom on the left, below.

Sawtooth view
Panorama of the summit of Braxon

Lopez's book "Idaho: A Climbing Guide" recommends doing this climb with snow on it to avoid the scree. I'm not sure how much help we got in that department, but the June snow definitely made the descent easier.

This was a relatively easy climb, with few hazards (depending on your navigation skills). Combined with absolutely incredible scenery, this was a great trip.

 

Sout face of horstemann

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski