Quartzite Peak


For a short climb, Quartzite is pretty tough.

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

I had SAR training so couldn't go on the original invite, but then Ralph kindly postponed a day and I was in. He and Bob picked me up in Banks at 6am and we were herding the old Suby to Redfish Lake for our rendezvous with Wade, who was riding his moto up from Fairfield (brrr!).

We paid our dues ($16 each, round trip) and were on our feet at the upper end of Redfish Lake at about 8:30. Despite the fire above Lowman emitting some smoke into the valley, it was a lovely day.

By the way-- If you are scratching your head over "Quartzite Peak" you are not alone. The boat guy, who was himself was a climber, gave us a very puzzled look. The Lopez guide says, "The first and only known ascent was by [. . .] the Iowa Mountaineers. The line and details of this ascent are unknown." Cool- an adventure!

Lower trail

The trail up Redfish Creek seems pretty safe, but at one point this huge block came tumbling down. Luckily, the Man of Steel was there to rescue us.

Note: This isn't the first time this has happened on this trail.
Nor was it the last.

Centennial Trail

I had been here before on a climb of Braxon Peak. So we did a pretty good job following the steep route up and around the cliffs and soon were in the upper meadows. That's our peak on the left.

And below, a pano of the gorgeous lake, with the hulking and steep Quartzite again on the left. Our route climbed the first gully to the right of the peak, hoping that from the gully we would be able to make progress. We'd know soon enough.

But first, we stopped for lunch at the lake.

Quartzite panorama

Then it was time for some slogging. This stuff was pretty loose and we did manage to knock off a few large chunks. Beware!

From the top of the gully, it's a short scramble up more loose stuff, then some big blocks. When I spotted Ralph's head peaking over the tallest of them, I thought to myself, "This was too easy!" Blocks

When I got to where Ralph was, I had to eat my words.

Many peaks in the Sawtooths seem to have similar: a short 10 to 20 foot block or obelisk sitting in a slightly exposed position, just enough to discourage any brave attempts at bouldering to the summit. This one was no exception.

Other examples:

Summit block

Ralph was disappeared somewhere on the block looking for a weakness. I followed, and we came to a consensus that the unlikely-looking chimney was it. Then we looked up and there was The Boy giving it a go.


Click to see his head on top.

We lesser beings each chimneyed up the route, but didn't have the courage nor the wingspan to pull the final mantle.

On top!

And here it is from the uphill side. You don't want to fall into the gap.

Also, you'll notice that just as you are finally high enough to reach the lip, you are also high enough that the lip is out of reach.

On top!

Little Bob photo

But we still had a fine climb with awesome views from what Ralph called the "geologic summit" (You'll have to ask him what that means...?). This is looking down at our lake with Braxon Peak behind. Scramble

This is looking into the Saddleback Lakes, what we once called "Shangri-La." If you look really hard, you'll see my daughter in there somewhere.



Then it was time to beat feet to make the 3 'clock boat (along with about 30 other people).

I was supposed to meet my daughter for libations at Redfish Lodge after the hike, but I didn't know where she was playing. Turns out, when I got back to the car and checked my phone there was a text saying she was hiking in Shangri-La and was heading out on the 3 o'clock boat. But also as it turns out we got tired of waiting and only found out later that she missed the boat and didn't get to the lodge until about 5. Oh well.

Super terrain, solitude, and a new hiking buddy always make for a great day!


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