Labor Day Sawtooths Plan...too ambitious?


Original Post
Ben Stabley · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 151

Hi. I'm researching and considering going into the Redfish Lake area over Labor Day weekend and attempting to "bag" a couple of peaks in the Mt Heyburn vicinity. I've never been to the Sawtooths before, and I wanted to run my rough plan by the locals to see if it sounds too ambitious or not, and perhaps more importantly to make sure I've read and interpreted the approach beta correctly.

First, Here's a map showing the peaks me and my partner may attempt, our planned "base camp" location, and prospetive approach path.
http://caltopo.com/m/SD61

The rough plan is:
Friday 9/2: Leave Portland, OR 7am, arrive at Redfish Lake around 5pm, take the ferry across the lake, hike up the drainage (purple on map) between Mt Heyburn and the Grand Aiguille, cross the saddle over to the lake directly West of Heyburn, and crash.

Saturday 9/3: Climb Heyburn via Stur Chimney, descend, hike over to Fishhook Spire and climb the Southwest Couloir. If there's time, maybe Mt Iowa, but I find that unlikely.

Sunday: Climb Grand Aiguille's Northwest Side and Small Aiguille's North Face on our way back down the drainage (purple on map). May bivy Sunday night near the Aiguilles or descend farther and bivy by Redfish Lake Creek.

Monday: Take ferry back, drive home to Portland.

I'm also considering the "normal" approach to Heyburn through the Bench Lakes. Even though it's more miles from the ferry stop than the drainage described above, is it recommended due to the trail being faster travel than the drainage?

At the very least, I'd like to climb Stur Chimney, Grand Aiguille, and Small Aiguille, which I think should be very do-able. My main concern is that I'm underestimating the terrain (rocky cross country) and potentially the elevation (gain and absolute). My partner and I are probably in average shape for weekend warriors who don't specifically do cardio training.

Other questions:
1. Is there anything tricky I should know about regarding the ferry or permits?
2. Any wildlife issues? Grizzly Bears? Crazy goats?
3. Is the area, specifically the climbing, going to be a total shitshow over Labor Day weekend? (This is pretty typical on easy/moderate routes in the Cascades.)
4. Anything else I might want to know?

Thanks a ton for any insight and info you can provide!

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Hey, I haven't climbed or hiked any of your objectives, just camped and futzed around, having lived in Boise since 1980.

No grizzlies, they're farther east. Yes, goats, but I don't think as nuts as Colorado goats.

Redfish lake area is the most popular here for camping, and a holiday weekend will be busy. Check with Redfish Lake Lodge for parking, camping, and boat info. It's a boat, not a ferry, by the way.

In terms of crowds, Idaho is just no comparison to the Cascades. You might bump into some other climbers, but doubtful it'll be a problem. More the other way. Here, your route finding skills are probably the crux for anything you want to do outside. Get lost, and you might be lost a reeeeaaalllly long time. Not kidding.
Map it out well, and make sure someone has your info.

Pop on to Summit Post and Idaho Outdoors sites for more beta on your climbs. The links provided will get you to good info too. Tom Lopez's name on anything is gold, and you should be able to get his books. Idaho Outdoors has a ton of trip reports, and a message board with even more. Consider posting there if none of those guys show up here.

Have fun! Best, Helen

Ben Stabley · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 151

Thanks Helen. I've definitely been reading the info on Summit Post and in Lopez's book. I'll check out Idaho Outdoors too. I'm glad there aren't any grizzlies!

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Hey, post your questions on the Idaho Outdoors forum (comes up stagg54 something when you google). They are super experienced, and ridiculously nice folks. They'll be straight with you, too. Besides, the trips and photos will get you stoked for sure. And, you can throw a trip report back on there after!

Petsfed · · Laramie, WY · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 875

I recall that area being pretty stacked with steep slabs. I can't get at my photos of any of them just now, but I'd be concerned about your ability to haul stuff through that steep of terrain. I'd definitely head up bench lakes because I'd wager that the time lost on the trail is more than offset by the time spent wallowing up a talus chute.

JoshuaSee · · Stanley, Idaho · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

Didja' climb Heyburn? I've heard many reports from locals the past three years living in Stanley about very loose rock. I'm going to get up it I the next week or two and would like to know how much loose rock there is. Borderline too much? Enough to be an nuisance? Over exaggerated?

Ben Stabley · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 151
JoshuaSee wrote:Didja' climb Heyburn? I've heard many reports from locals the past three years living in Stanley about very loose rock. I'm going to get up it I the next week or two and would like to know how much loose rock there is. Borderline too much? Enough to be an nuisance? Over exaggerated?
No, I didn't. In the end I couldn't find a partner for 5th class stuff. So I decided to climb Borah Pk myself, but the cold windy snowy weather that was forecast (did it happen?) made me cancel my plans and climb a bit at Smith Rock with a friend who was staying in Bend. Fun weekend, just not as epic.
JoshuaSee · · Stanley, Idaho · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

Yes, weather was crappy. Was hoping you were going to have some epic suffer fest tale for me! Well I just joined MP, so next time your in Stanley feel free to contact me for some rocks climbing. I have recently started a Stanley climbing page so if I can't climb I might be able to get you locked in with fellow locals who do.

Ben Stabley · · Portland, OR · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 151

Thanks for the offer JoshuaSee. I'd definitely like to get out there for some climbing one of these days, but the drive from Portland makes it a "long weekend" sort of trip since the drive takes nearly a whole day itself.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Hey Ben, it did snow (Saturday night??) over on the LRR, but I don't think a lot or very low. Cold in general though.

Joshua, are you a year round Stanleyite? If so, I'm impressed! For those who don't know, Stanley is often the lowest temp in the lower 48 in the winter.

And Ben, hope you get a decent stretch of time to come visit sometime!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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