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The Elephant's Perch

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Astro Elephant T 
Boomers Story T 
Chasing the Dragon T 
Direct Beckey T 
Divine Guidance T 
Fine Line, The T 
Mojo  T 
Mountaineer's Route T 
Myopia T 
Original Beckey T 
Sideline T 
Splittgerber-March Direct T 
Sunrise Book T 
Thorn Bush, The T 
Trunkline T 
Unknown T 
Wafer of Woe T 
Wendy T 

The Elephant's Perch Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 9,870'
Location: 44.06858, -114.97445 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 107,352
Administrators: WAGbag, Mike Engle, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Brad Brandewie on Jan 7, 2007


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Camp below The Elephant's Perch.


From a climber’s perspective, the Elephant’s Perch is possibly Idaho’s best piece of stone. Not just because of the quality lines and solid granite though, it’s the whole experience.

You start with a nice, 5-mile boat ride across Redfish Lake. As the miles pass on the water, you’ll be glad you paid the $10 for the ride. From the far end of the lake it’s a steep and pristine, 3-mile hike to the camping below the Perch. If you’re out of shape, you will know it in the last mile.

It would be difficult to overstate the beauty of this camp. You’re between the lip of the hanging valley and the first of the Saddleback Lakes, with the Elephant's Perch on one side and the multi-towered massif of the Goat’s Perch on the other. Great stuff by any standard. Trout live in the Saddleback Lakes so get a license and pack a rod if you will be taking any rest days.

The Perch itself is a photogenic, golden granite with vertical fractures covering its flanks. It soars roughly 1000 feet for much of its width and hosts around 30 routes. You won’t find many fixed anchors, so be prepared to build your own. The rock quality is excellent, but loose rock does exist, especially on the less-traveled routes.

The easiest and most popular route on the Perch is the 5.9 Mountaineer’s Route. Other popular classics include The Direct Beckey, Astro-Elephant, the Sunrise Book, and Myopia.

To descend there are two options:

1. Descend the gully to the climber’s right of the Perch. This involves some loose rock and some rappelling.

2. When you top out, go to climber's left and work your way down and left around the bulk of the Perch to eventually meet up with the trail you took to the base. This involves some short downclimbs and may require some scouting around if it’s your first time.

Getting There 

Take the boat across (or hike around) Redfish Lake and begin hiking up the main drainage. You’re heading for the second drainage on the left after the Grand Mogul.

After roughly 2 miles, you leave the main trail and follow a smaller trail up to the base of the Perch. It can be hard to spot the trail junction where you leave the main trail so be alert. You will cross two foot-bridges close to one another and then another one a little farther up the trail. After the third bridge, look for the creek on the left. You want to leave the main trail at its point nearest the creek. You should cross the creek (on logs) within a couple rope lengths of leaving the main trail.

This trail becomes easy to follow after crossing the creek and leads up and right into the valley below the Perch.

Climbing Season

Weather station 7.5 miles from here

18 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',8],['3 Stars',8],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Elephant's Perch

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Elephant's Perch:
Mountaineer's Route   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches   
Sideline   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches   
Astro Elephant   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches   
Splittgerber-March Direct   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches   
Wafer of Woe   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R     Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 200'   
Myopia   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches   
Divine Guidance   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R     Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches   
Direct Beckey   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches   
The Fine Line   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches   
Original Beckey   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches   
Sunrise Book   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Elephant's Perch

Featured Route For The Elephant's Perch
Rock Climbing Photo: topo

Mojo 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b PG13  Idaho : The Sawtooth Range : The Elephant's Perch
an incredible route, with lots of sustained climbing. first pitch is spicy first thing in the morning, but all there. traverse right into the corner at the top of pitch 2. 3 incredible pitches of 11 in a row brings you to the crux. tech 9 fingers and slab traverse*** both climbers should be fairly solid at the grade to attempt the crux, due to the traversing nature and sporty gear. otherwise there's a 5.10 option to the left that avoids piches 6 and 7, which is still an incredible route and ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Idaho

Photos of The Elephant's Perch Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephant Perch
Elephant Perch
Rock Climbing Photo: Saddleback
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephants Perch
Elephants Perch
Rock Climbing Photo: At the top of the descent gully with Saddleback La...
At the top of the descent gully with Saddleback La...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Elephants Perch  Elephant mushrooms "be a...
The Elephants Perch Elephant mushrooms "be a...
Rock Climbing Photo: not all bivy sites are created equal
not all bivy sites are created equal
Rock Climbing Photo: Saddleback lakes as seen from the ledge on Astro-E...
Saddleback lakes as seen from the ledge on Astro-E...
Rock Climbing Photo: Alpine glow on the Perch.
Alpine glow on the Perch.
Rock Climbing Photo: One of the many beautiful Brook Trout caught out o...
One of the many beautiful Brook Trout caught out o...
Rock Climbing Photo: A very nice piece of stone
A very nice piece of stone
Rock Climbing Photo: The Elephants perch Summit View Photo by Aerili
The Elephants perch Summit View Photo by Aerili
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking across at Braxon Peak on the approach to T...
Looking across at Braxon Peak on the approach to T...
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephant's Perch from the east
Elephant's Perch from the east
Rock Climbing Photo: Saddleback Lake
Saddleback Lake
Rock Climbing Photo: View of Mountaineer's Route from farther up the va...
BETA PHOTO: View of Mountaineer's Route from farther up the va...
Rock Climbing Photo: View of Saddleback Lack from top of Perch
View of Saddleback Lack from top of Perch
Rock Climbing Photo: The Perch, with Sideline and Astroelephant in view
The Perch, with Sideline and Astroelephant in view
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephant's Perch - SW Face, Left   20. Chasing the...
BETA PHOTO: Elephant's Perch - SW Face, Left 20. Chasing the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephant's Perch - SW Face, Right  14. The Thorn B...
BETA PHOTO: Elephant's Perch - SW Face, Right 14. The Thorn B...
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephant's Perch - South Face  8. Lost Horizons 5....
BETA PHOTO: Elephant's Perch - South Face 8. Lost Horizons 5....
Rock Climbing Photo: Saddleback Lakes from the top of the Perch
Saddleback Lakes from the top of the Perch
Rock Climbing Photo: JAG on the summit.
JAG on the summit.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ryan on the summit - what great weather we had!
Ryan on the summit - what great weather we had!

Show All 49 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on The Elephant's Perch Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 15, 2016
By beavs
From: Ft. Collins, CO
Apr 8, 2007
This is without a doubt one of the prime alpine areas in the country. My time there was limited so my partner and I only climbed the Beckey Direct, but this climb alone is well worth the trip up there. There are also many stellar boulders scattered about in the trees below the Perch. We started climbing on them and were blown away by the quantity and quality of problems.
By mountainyack
May 13, 2011
My last trip to the Perch was, as always, amazing except for the climbers and their trash. A group of dread-headed posers wearing typical 'modern-hippie' shirts tented up proximate to the trail. They had an obnoxious dog that loved to bark AND bite. "Relax, man, our dog is chill" as it whipped is chain leash to reach it's assumed target (my leg!). What a bunch of douche-bags. Maybe they climbed hard. Anyways...

Just be courteous to fellow users of the Sawtooths -- don't be an asshole, people. This place, more importantly than an austerely beautiful cliff, is a even more beautiful mountain range. Respect it. Know the rules!

When I was there last, trash was scattered about: beer cans, wrappers, and human shit and tp poorly covered by rocks. Climbers have a reputation among the land management agencies that is similar to that of Boy Scouts -- bad! I have family who work in the USFS in the Sawtooths. They tell me these things.

Just because climb the Perch doesn't mean you own the place. Feel free to dirty your carpet or leave beer out at your place, but in the Sawtooths you're a GUEST. This place is a palace. Treat it like one. Let's leave it pristine and clean for future climbers and patrons to enjoy.
By hanshan
From: Canada Mofuga
Jul 30, 2011
I pulled a 'fixed' nut and whipped (past my belayer) on the 12a corner of sunrise book this week. Kinda got scared since that belay sucks- small nuts behind a flake, and bailed off a green camalot and a grey c4. They are there if you want them.
By claytown
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 9, 2012
The Elephant's Perch is not to be missed. This amazing cirque is great for both climbers and non-climbers, so bring your non-climber friends for some excellent alpine backpacking, fishing and beautiful scenery as you climb.

Two things to note: 1) the right side of the wall (astro elephant, etc) gets sun much earlier than the left side of the wall and can get really hot. 2) when descending the gully and eventually reaching the chock-boulder, go out left to the tree on the other formation. Single 60 rap to the ground. Don't bother downclimbing around the boulder.
By Spencer Weiler
From: Salt Lake city
Jul 25, 2012
FYI: the boat ride is $16 bucks round trip, or $10 one way. It leaves the Redfish Lodge Marina anytime as long as you have 2 people. It picks up from the inlet at 9,11,1,3,5,7 at the dock you get dropped off at, or anytime someone else is being dropped off.
By Jim D
Aug 17, 2012
Is there a guidebook for this area worth getting? Or should I just go purely off what's on Mountain Project?

Is the road in to Finger of Fate passable with a regular old Durango or do I need some jeep with a lift to get in there?
By Cory Harelson
From: Boise, ID
Aug 19, 2012
The road to Finger of Fate was a little rough, but not that bad. My Subaru didn't have any problems. Idaho, A Climber's Guide by Tom Lopez has some beta in it.
By Rob Dillon
Nov 14, 2012
Cool FA story from the 70's here on the Taco.
By Erik S. Gillis
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 11, 2013
So I left my new 510 moccasins at the base of Myopia July 7th 2013. If any body finds them could you please email me at thanks
By shakey
Jul 17, 2013
Hey does anyone have any info on routes that go up the tusk? I've heard there's an 11 but not much else as far as description (possibly runout?). Any info would be great!
By Brad Brooks
Jan 26, 2015
There are a few routes up the tusk, but the best one is 3 pitches and goes up the side facing the lake, south side. It's worth going up just to do the second pitch.

P1-There is an obvious 5.7/5.8 crack that goes to a large ledge with a big tree.

P2-11b From the ledge you will do some sporty 5.10 slab climbing clipping a few bolts to get to a small crack. You will be able to see the bolts from the ledge. Crux is up high and decently protected with thin cams. Follow this killer, thin crack pitch up to an old bolted anchor. This pitch is amazing, with great exposure climbing a crack on an arête. Optional to rap,off after this pitch.

P3- 5.9. Keep going up.

Rap beta: Rap Down to the big ledge, and for the last rap you will rap into the gulley on climbers left off of a tree. Once in the gully you will make another short rap off a tree. Single 70 gets you down. It's easy to figure out...

This is a great climb and worth doing before you head out, especially if you only have a few hours on your last day.
By Wilderness Climber
Aug 14, 2015
The climbers trail to the Elephants Perch is not maintained by the Forest Service and can be very challenging. The log crossing at Redfish Lake Creek occasionally blows out during high water. This log crossing can be very sketchy, please use extreme caution, or consider crossing in the water if it is low enough. Remember, you are traveling in Wilderness!

Campfires are NEVER allowed at Saddleback Lakes. Campfires are illegal due to the high amount of use this area receives and the sensitivity of this beautiful high alpine environment.
Groups can be no larger than 12, all need to get a free wilderness permit at the trailhead.
If you replace webbing on a route please cut out the old, weathered webbing.

  • *Please recreate responsibly, its a privilege to have access to this area.**
By Sam Cannon
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 17, 2015
Left a pair of pink Anasazi 5.10s size 9.5 on the Perch Saturday evening (the 15th of Aug). Will pay for shipping plus $20 to get them back.

I'll delete this post in a week or two to reduce clutter.
By Kat A
From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Sep 3, 2015
Strongly recommend you stop at The Elephant's Perch gear shop in Ketchum/Sun Valley and pick up photocopies of the topos and any other supplies you may need. Great store. They also sell a nice color poster with the EP routes highlighted.
By Mr. Stevens
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 6, 2016
I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet, but watch out for the Mosquitos! Come prepared or suffer the consequences. I brought a full upper body mosquito suit for camp and it was not excessive at all. they bothered us a bit on the lower pitches of the routes we did (first 2 pitches, maybe), but we're non-existent higher up.
By bheller
From: SL UT
Apr 7, 2016
In my experience the skeeters have been worst around July 4th.
By Andy Novak
From: Golden, Co
Jul 23, 2016
Absolutely breathtaking! Mosquitos were pretty bad July 14-15, a face net might be useful. Make sure to practice leave no trace ethics and refrain from fires. Give yourself plenty of time for the descent and the walk back (there may or may not be cairns, making for a slow going) Lastly, the Sawtooths are not a place where you want to get injured. Its not like the NPS where they have a team and chopper ready to go. Make sure to have self-rescue skills dialed and its probably worth carrying a SPOT or similar device. The Redfish Lodge has a great happy hour!
By Mark Ferguson
Aug 15, 2016
Please respect this special place.

I first visited the Elephants Perch in July of 2001 and did not see one other climber while there for a week. I went back in August of 2013 and was absolutely shocked at the amount of wear, tear, trash and crowds. In 2001 it was an untrammeled paradise, not so much anymore. I lost count of how many climbers showed up while I was there for the week. The amount of climbers this place now sees is unsustainable for such a fragile alpine environment and I fear that the forest service may soon impose restrictions so please, leave no trace and leave your dogs at home. Pack out all trash and even your shit if you can (wag bags). The camping area is slowly becoming a cesspool. Please use existing camping spots and again, leave no trace.

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