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Ascent of Alpine Peak on 1992-09-16

Climber: Greg Slayden

Date:Wednesday, September 16, 1992
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Alpine Peak
    Location:USA-Idaho
    Elevation:9861 ft / 3005 m

Ascent Trip Report

I left my motel cabin early, after breakfast, and drove through the crystal clear but bitterly cold morning out of Stanley, ID on ID 21 and then down the Iron Creek Road, which led to the Iron Creek trailhead, a large and well-used parking area. Here I got my daypack together and started off into the Sawtooth Mountains, perhaps the premier mountainous area of Idaho.

I was not planning on climbing a major Sawtooth summit, since they tended to be very steep, difficult, remote rock pyramids that required a couple days, rock-climbing gear, and climbing partners. Instead, I thought I might try Alpine Peak, 9861 feet, a relatively minor summit that seemed to be about the highest somewhat easy peak to climb. First I had to get to Sawtooth Lake, five miles up from the trailhead, and this was fairly easy despite the uphill. The trail network of the Sawtooths was first rate, with easy to follow paths that were even signed, and there were many other hikers on the trail, including some photographers.

I reached windy Sawtooth Lake, a large oval of blue surrounded by grey talus, and had a snack before following the trail along its east shore southwards. From there I found a very steep dry gully that I ascended to the more gentle slopes beneath Alpine Peak, and from this area I gained the peak's main ridge, south of the summit, by miserable scrambling up ball-bearing scree. I then made my way up the blocky ridge to the summit, weaving in and out of cliffs, scrubby trees, and strong wind.

At the summit I had a great panorama of the Sawtooths to myself, and ate the traditional summit meal, took the traditional summit photographs, and had the traditional summit rest. This rest was longer than most, since it had been a pretty easy hike and I had nowhere to get to--I spent lots of time figuring out the peaks I could see by looking at my map. Thompson, McGown, and Regan were all easily visible.

I descended Alpine Peak by a different route, something I rarely do, especially when off the trail, but here the north ridge seemed just as hard as the south one I had come up on. It was a little more serrated, and after staying on its crest a bit I slabbed over on loose scree to an area where I could ski down the rocks to the gentle slopes beneath the main peak. From here I found another steep gully leading down towards Sawtooth Lake. This was steep going, even when I tried to switchback down grassy slopes, and I even slipped and fell a couple times.

I got back to the trail just to the south of the south end of Sawtooth Lake, followed the path back along the lake to where I had left it earlier, then back towards the car. Once back on the trail I saw many hikers, and I was asked a couple times to take pictures for them or give directions. As I descended from the tiny lake north of Sawtooth Lake I asked a guy to take a picture for me, and we got to talking as we hiked down, since we both walked at about the same pace. Bill C. was a professional photographer from Hailey, ID, and had been lugging his tripod up steep talus to get shots of Sawtooth Lake. He was worried about his dog, who had abandoned him, and he hoped that it had returned to his truck and was waiting for him. He was also opening up a bookstore/photo gallery in nearby Hailey.

I also told him about myself as we hiked the hour or so down to the parking lot, and when we arrived he was happy to see his dog waiting by his pickup truck. We exchanged addresses in case we were ever in each other's neck of the woods, and then I was off down the excellent dirt road back down to ID 21.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3151 ft / 960 m
    Trailhead:6710 ft / 2045 m
    Grade/Class:1
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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