Updated: Jun 21
Words and Photography by:
It started slow and hot, like any good adventure does. It was late summer and after a long days work packing is always a slew of madness. We made piles of gear here and there, decorating the floor with the loot — I love a good gear mess. Nothing says fun like all your favorite things sprawled out on the ground just waiting to be used and loved.
We pulled out of Boise and pointed our car towards Stanley early in the afternoon, it’s midday rays baking the hood of my car and blasting our faces with summer heat. Driving to the mountains is always rejuvenating—the road cooling as we dip into the shaded canyon. The closer we get to the Sawtooth mountains the more the temperature begins to drop, always just enough to feel refreshed.
Our objective was simple. I had never climbed in the Sawtooths, and with a couple routes picked out we knew we were in for an adventurous weekend outside. Early September is a beautiful time of year in Idaho, on the cusp of autumn as summer holds on for its final leg, we debate whether we wear the layers or shed them. Colors are beginning to turn from vibrant green to bold reds and oranges in lower elevations, and as you progressively climb higher in elevation you can see the line where the foliage begins to transition. It’s a beautiful sight to see.
Part of the fun in climbing at Elephant’s Perch in the Sawtooth Wilderness is the boat shuttle across Redfish Lake. The Redfish Lake Marina offers this service to climbers to cut back the approach time by about six miles to just seven minutes of wind in your hair for a small fee. Elephant’s Perch is a popular peak for climbers, its dramatic granite faces reaching up to 1,200 feet high. Unlike much of the notable jagged ridge lines and protruding spires in the Sawtooths, Elephant’s Perch is more dome-like with over 25 routes to scratch your way up. The boat drop leaves climbers with about three hours of hiking until the lakes where you can set up camp for the night.
Waking early the next morning, the Mountaineers Route is a classic seven pitches of alpine trad climbing that we were stoked to send. The exposure is fantastic, protection good, and rock solid. Topping out on any alpine climb is always a special experience and especially enhanced when shared with good company. After a successful day, we walked out of the mountains dirty, sweaty, happy and ready for a hot meal.
Cascade was next on the radar, as it holds a special place in my heart as a home I return to often to feel the solitude and magic Idaho’s mountains have to offer. I spent many days of my youth and into adulthood wandering its trails, exploring the lake, and floating the river that runs through it. We found the perfect Airbnb, Sunrise Retreat Yurt, to call home for one night before we worked our way back to Boise. Together we cooked our meals by candlelight, drank morning tea on the deck overlooking the lake in the distance, and shared meaningful conversation late into the night. We earn our rewards in the mountains and Idaho is a special place to experience their wonder.