Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sawtooth Scrambling

Williams Peak (false summit) - class 4
Thompson Peak (southwest couloir) - class 3
Mickey's Spire (north ridge) - class 4

August 11, 2014

Following a rather exhausting backpacking tour of the southern portion of the Sawtooth Range, Will and I turned right around and went back up in the mountains to tackle some peaks the next day.  We wanted to climb the tallest mountain in the range, Thompson Peak, and some others along the way.  We started at 6:15 am at the Redfish Trailhead and followed the trail towards Marshall Lake along a heavily wooded and large glacial moraine until a climber's trail splits and travels up the valley towards the saddle between Williams and Thompson Peaks.  The hike was amazing.  The trail kind of disappeared as did the trees, so we just wandered up the valley towards the saddle, trying to avoid any difficult terrain.  We were both surprised to come upon a beautiful, perfectly round, deep cirque lake.  It's not even named!

A quiet and peaceful approach to the mountains
Getting lighter and warmer 
Above the trees and off the nice trail  
Who wouldn't name this lake.  I would like to name it Poppycock Lake.   
Will hiking around Poppycock Lake 
Poppycock Lake
The morning light and the backdrop of Thompson Peak and its' jagged eastern ridge, made for a great surprise.  We continued up the valley, passing little lakes and waterfalls.  We scrambled up the headwall to the saddle.  From here we decided to climb Williams Peak first.  Summitpost.org says, "Williams Peak is easily accessible from the saddle." Wrong again buddy.  From the saddle, we didn't know any better because it appeared that the peak was very close, but that's because the true summit was out of sight.  We scrambled around on some towers trying to get as high as possible.  We reached the top of a particularly exposed and exciting spire and realized that the summit was still very far away. The true summit was at the top of a ridge lined with impassable towers, nested on top of a thousand feet of 40 degree scree slopes.  How is Williams Peak very accessible from the saddle?

Small lake below the saddle
Filling up our water bottle with fresh snow melt
Getting close to the saddle
Thompson Peak, on our way up Williams Peak
Looking down the western ridge of Williams Peak
On OUR summit, first ascent!
Me scrambling out on a super exposed ridge, Thompson in the background 
Coming down from OUR summit
We decided to go down and head over towards Thompson Peak while we still had energy. We scrambled around the west side of Thompson and up to the saddle on its' southern side.  From here, it was a simple scramble to the summit.  Much more straight forward than Williams Peak.  After summiting Thompson Peak, we scrambled down and up the adjacent peak to the south, Mickey's Spire.  We were both tired and not excited about the descent, but we made it down from the summit to the trailhead in about 3 hours.  Total time on the mountain: 11 hours.

Fortunately, the next day it was raining, which gave us a good excuse to end our trip and go home.  We were tired and we needed a shower.

Some big xenoliths within a hypabyssal intermediate dike
Making our way to Thompson Peak.  Williams Peak on the right. 
Some fun boulder hopping up towards Thompson Peak 
Looking down on the unnamed lake from the summit of Thompson 
Will taking in the views and catching a breather on the summit of Thompson
Guys, Jeff Cronin is a murderer.  
Will making his way up Mickey's Spire 
Looking north towards Thompson and Williams Peaks from Mickey's Spire
Fresh runoff in a beautiful valley
Some sweet boudinage structures in the Idaho Batholith
Poppycock Lake (actually unnamed) and Thompson Peak on the right.