The Sawtooth Range Rock Climbing
A shot of the range from the docks.
The Sawtooth Range in central Idaho is one of the most beautiful and overlooked alpine climbing destinations in the United States. Only two and a half hours northeast of Boise (1hr north of Sun Valley), these mountains tower above the tiny town of Stanley and offer an incredibly pristine setting in which to climb.
Topping out under 11,000 feet, these granite peaks cover an area roughly 30 miles tall and 20 miles wide. The range was protected by Congress in 1972 when they designated it the Sawtooth Wilderness and a National Recreation Area. The Sawtooths are also one of the pilot sites for the 'Fixed Anchor Ban', so new routing can be tricky. Fortunately the rock is often vertically fractured, lending itself to natural protection.
The best month for rock climbing is August, but there is some type of climbing to be had all year long. Many impressive couloirs split the jagged peaks and towers and exposed alpine scrambles are far too numerous to count. Winter here is very cold.
The Elephant's Perch is the center of rock climbing in the range, offering 25+ routes from 5.9 to A4 and up to 12 pitches in length. Other standouts include the Finger of Fate, The Super Slabs, Barron Spire, Mount Heyburn, Blue Rock Buttress, and the extremely remote North and South Rakers.
Though the rock quality is impeccable in some places, there is no shortage of bad rock in this range, so expect some adventure when you're off the beaten path.
There is no modern guidebook to the area, but many of the classics have topos that can be found online. Beyond that, the best overview for the range may be Idaho - A Climbers Guide by Tom Lopez.
Stanley offers a few restaurants, a small grocery, laundry, and hotel rooms during the summer tourist season.
From the west on Interstate 84:
1. Take the ID-21 / GOWEN ROAD exit- EXIT 57- toward IDAHO CITY.
2. Follow ID-21 for 3 hours through Idaho City and Lowman to reach Stanley.
From the east on Interstate 84:
1. Turn north on 93 (used to be 75) near Twin Falls.
2. 93 will become 75 and leads over Galena Pass into the Sawtooth Valley.
From the northeast:
1. Take 93 south through Challis.
2. A few miles south of Challis turn right (west) on 75 and proceed to Stanley.
Weather station 1.6 miles from here
31 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',5],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in The Sawtooth Range
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Sawtooth Range
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Sawtooth Range:
Featured Route For The Sawtooth Range
By Duncan Murray
From: Salt Lake City
Jan 26, 2007
Tip: Don't forget your climbing rope, I did and that was a 6 hour drive there from SLC, UT.
The shop in Stanley across from the gas station (higher on the hill) was awesome. The owner hooked me up on a great deal because of our dilemma. Great guy, great store. Stop in!
By Scotty Nelson
Apr 11, 2007
Is late June a bad time to climb the Elephant's Perch?
By Amylee T
From: Flagastaff, AZ
Jan 23, 2014
has anyone climbed here in mid may? i am from mt, so i know how inclement the weather can be, just looking for someone with experience this time of year.
Nov 7, 2014
This place is so amazing.
By Adam P H
Jul 10, 2016
The Elephant's Perch shop in Ketchum knows a ton about routes in the area. They have a collection of hand drawn topos.