Sawtooths 2010


A Labor Day weekend in the Sawtooths

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

As we had on previous trips, Art and I met in Lowman. We parked his rig, moved his stuff into my car, and we were off. After a great meal at The Bridge in Lower Stanley, we parked at the Alturas Creek trailhead.

We were on our feet at about 5:30pm on Friday. This was a little later than I had hoped, but at least we were in the mountains.

So after walking about a mile up Alpine Creek, we hit the hay.


14.8 miles, 5600' gain, 13 lakes, 2 peaks

We were up early on Saturday, walking at about 7:15. By 8:45 we were already at the first big lake in the southern section of Alpine Creek Lakes. For fans of my trips, this is the lake Jazz and I camped at when we hiked in here in 2007. That trip was the seed for this one.

That's Snowyside Peak on the right.

Lake 8523
By 10am, we were at the top of the basin and fully off-trail for a while. This is looking back down the basin to the east, with Perfect Peak on the horizon just left of center. Alpine C reek lakes

This is looking the other way into the upper Flytrip Basin. Our first peak for the day, Glens Peak, is the summit on the left. Talus, anyone?

But before we could climb Glens, we had to get down the basin and figure out which of the many draws would lead us to the SE ridge.

Upper Flytrip from the saddle

Glens Peak

Art is really good with a map, so after a few minutes of arguing I let him be right. That got us onto the correct ridge fine, but what I expected to be sort of a talus slog turned into this.

We looked at it for a bit, and the pause was a welcome break to climbing with full packs. I thought I saw a way through, and although climbing through the huge blocks with big packs was hard work, it was also pretty fun and never went above Class 3.

Big blocks

At about 1pm we were on top. It was a bit cool per the NOAA prediction, but the 20% chance of precip was actually looking pretty good.

From the top of Glens, I could finally show Art some of our goals for this trip.

The peak on the left is Plummer Peak. We would try to find a route somewhere up this face so that we could descend the route in the Lopez guide, which is on the other side. Plummer Peak
And this is Mount Everly, peeking its head over the ridge. We would try the east face to the right of the trees, both up and down. Mount Everly
So we were off, heading down the route in the Lopez guide, then following the trail (hey, a trail!) to Spangle Lake and Ingeborg Lake. Spangle Lake

From another of our peaks, here's the descent ridge off of Glens Peak, with the peak in the middle and the ridge facing the camera. Snowyside on the left.

Glenns Peak

Benedict Peak

When we got to the far end of Ingeborg Lake, we set up camp. Then we had a pleasant conversation with two off-duty Forest Service employees, Cat and Kyle (please excuse me if I got the names wrong or the spelling). Finally, with just light packs, at 4:30 we set off for Benedict Peak. This is looking back at Ingeborg.

Ingeborg Lake
We followed some benches that ended in *surprise!* another big talus field. Then we hit the ridge, which had stunning exposure. You didn't have to climb where it was exposed, but our first view over the precipice took our breath away. The ridge

This peak is not in the Lopez guide, but it is definitely worth a visit. Here's Benedict Peak as seen from Everly. Awesome position. Big drop on the north face into an unnamed lake. 360° views (which you will have to go see for yourself).

We were on top at 5:45 with growing appetites. Better hustle back to camp.

Benedict Peak

But I will share this view from our descent because it shows where we were headed tomorrow. Plummer is the second bump from the left. We would hike into the basin below Plummer here, over the top, and then cross over to Everly on the far right. Then drop down the trail from Everly Lake and back to our camp at Ingeborg.

But first back at camp, we learned that ignoring the rules on the Wilderness Pass is not a good idea. After signing Sawtooth Wilderness passes for over 40 years, we had gotten pretty blase about them. Turns out, they change the rules and our campfire at Ingeborg, which lacked a fire blanket, was illegal. These two new Forest Service employees were very nice, but we had to douse it.

Then just before sundown, Cat (from our previous visit) came over and invited us to join all four employees at their legal campfire. Party in the Sawtooths!

Plummer and Everly

Sunday, Plummer Peak

13.7 miles, 3800' gain, 2 peaks, 13 lakes

Despite the late evening, we were up and moving a little after 7 the next morning. As we moved up the basin, off trail again, we got better views of Plummer and its challenges. Our route went up the initial treed area, then through the break in the dike (the dark-colored rock) and across to the left ridge. What appeared to be a cliffy finish was an easy scramble up another talus slope.


Plummer Peak

At about 9, we hit the top of Plummer. The previously-mentioned Mr. Lopez had signed the tiny register back in 1990. Lacking a writing tool, we didn't sign in.

Mount Everly

But we could see Mount Everly across the basin. From this vantage point, the east face looked kinda steep and scary.

Mount Everly

But my good friend Super Dave had done this route and reported it as just Class 3.

It was steep, but blocky. This is looking back down at Everly Lake (lower) and Plummer Lake.

Everly Lake
From the top of the face, it's an easy ridge walk to the true summit on the other end. We were on top at 11:45 for more glorious views. Art on Everly

This is looking down into the route we had followed over the ridge from Pat's Lake back in 2005 when we walked from Boise to Stanley.

Again, too many views to post here, so you'll have to go see for yourself.

We descended the same route, if not a little more efficient line. Then back to camp where we packed up and headed out for the Flytrip Basin again.

View to the NW

Alpine Lakes Creek Peak

After our bushwhack shortcut, we camped near Flytrip Creek. From our camp, we could see tomorrow's goal, Alpine Creek Lakes Peak, aka Peak 9963.



Alpine Creek Lakes Peak


8.2 miles, 2300' gain, 1 peak, 8 lakes

Last night was especially cold, fulfilling Art's new slogan "Fast and Light, Cold at Night." But we still managed to roust ourselves and get moving around 7. We were very concerned with today: First, we were worried about the weird-looking terrain above our camp. We needn't have worried because we found easy passage through the cliffs and valleys. Even on our cold-stiff, tired legs we did better than 1000' gain per hour.

Before sunrise
When we gained the ridge, we were finally in the sun with a wonderful view of the many lakes in the Flytrip Basin. Flytrip Basin

As we topped out the talus section of the ridge, we could finally get a clear view of the summit block. Again, no worries.

That left one real, very large concern: We had no idea if it was even possible to descend the other side of the peak. If not, we were in for a long and brutal day.

Alpine Creek Lakes Peak
When we hit the top at 10:15, we had our answer. There were a number of clear paths into the drainage. That last visible lake in the chain is Casper Lake. Alpine Creek Lakes

So we joyfully cruised down the basin, talking a lot (but alas, I was tired of photography so was not taking a lot of pictures).

At one point, we heard a voice, not unlike an angel. She wanted to share the tidings of the day (and make sure we had our Wilderness Permit). We chatted for a bit and she laughed when we explained where we had been- she had been curious what we meant when our permit said our itinerary was "on the fly." Then she went on her way.

Alpine Creek Lakes

When Art and I got to the outlet of Casper Lake, we had a long, leisurely lunch, even brewing up a pot of coffee. When Katy caught up, we talked some more and then the three of us walked out to the trailhead together.

This trip took us into a lot of new country. Several different lake basins. Five new peaks. A couple new or unknown routes. And one heck of an adventure.

Katy and Art


The next week I ended up hiking into the Alpine Creek basin again. This time I took a picture of the trail coming out of Casper Lake.

Big Dan

Mr. Natural Home | 2010 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski