Idaho Sawtooth Mtns. Choss Adventure----The Grand Aiguille


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Messages 1 - 19 of total 19 in this topic

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 4, 2011 - 08:43pm PT
We survived our quick trip to the "Sawtooths."

Drove up on Friday and discovered a fire to the west had smoked the Sawtooths in. Rather than camp in the smoke and predicted temperatures in the low 20's F. at the far end of RedfishLake: we stayed at a motel, 10 miles north, in Stanley and dined at the gourmet restaurant: Backcountry Bistro.

Yep! I'm getting smarter as I get older.

Heidi & I rose at 6:00 AM and arrived at Redfish Lake at 7:00 AM, just as the boat ferry across the lake opened. It was 24 degrees F., and walking to the boat on the ice-glazed dock was risky. We were the only tourists crazed enough to be out that morning. At least the smoke had "blown-out."

I brought a 8.2 60 meter rope and a light rack of gear for our expected easy climb up a route first climbed in 1946 on the Grand Aiguille.

After a brisk 3 hour hike from the west end of Redfish Lake, up endless sandy slopes and occasional patches of decomposing granite: we reached the cirque under the Grand Aiguille.

The only problem was: our detailed USGS Topo map, with added summit names, from the book Idaho, A Climbing Guide, showed the Grand Aiguille was west of and behind the rather grand aiguille that dominated the cirque. We climbed up and west and then realized the map was wrong.

I also decided that I had enjoyed a really nice morning and there was no reason to ruin it: by climbing on what looked like loose and dangerous rock.

I may be old, but I'm still getting smarter!

The route goes up the couloir and then ascends the ridgeline, until it apparently???? goes out right, and continues onto the SE face. The route description does not match up with my photos.

The rock in the couloir looked real loose, and the 1946 write-up of the first-ascent mentions large loose-flakes on the face.

"These flakes are shaky when pulled outward, but are secure when downward pressure is placed directly on them."

I found myself wondering what the last 65 years had done to those flakes.

More choss-fun to follow!

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Sep 4, 2011 - 09:06pm PT

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 4, 2011 - 10:15pm PT

I guess the combination of climbing solid rock, with a guidebook, for two years at City of Rocks, and my increasing old age intelligence has "ruined me for choss."


SW. side of Mt. Heyburn. Rivers of sand and gravel drain the decomposing granite on this side of Heyburn. It is usually climbed from the north side, but the choss there is not all that solid. The true summit, which I think?? is the square top tower at center-left has some semi-solid routes on the north side.

We thought going down to the Redfish Lake Creek trail would be miserable and dangerous. Instead it was fast, fun, and only dangerous: when the deep gravel we were skiing would occasionally turn out to be sand-covered rock.

I only did an "ass-plant" once, but my two trekking poles saved me numerous times.

We were home to Choss Creek by 6:00 PM.

Spider Savage

Mountain climber
Sep 4, 2011 - 11:08pm PT
Way fun dude!!

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Sep 4, 2011 - 11:40pm PT
Fritz..What the hell were you thinking making that young skipper haul you across the lake at 7 am..? Then you missed the red lake miniature golf tournament..Gadzooks..!

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 4, 2011 - 11:47pm PT
RJ: I felt really old and evil about that early morning boat-ride----so I tipped the skipper $3.00 and assured him I was a significant part of Sawtooth climbing history.

He let us on the boat again when we showed up at the other side of the lake at 2:30 PM------ and pretended to remember us.


The people partying on the beach at Redfish Lake Lodge were all so cool------and we knew we were "climbing scum."


I mean: we are "old climbing scum."

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2011 - 10:50pm PT
On the way up to the Grand Aiguille: we had a great view of Goat Perch and the north profile of Elephant's Perch.

More snow for this time of year, than I remember in the last 40 years.


Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2011 - 11:16pm PT
Redfish Lake! The Forest Lawn, of camping in America.

The above quote from the "hippie-fishing" classic book:

Trout Fishing in America, written by Richard Brautigan and published in 1967.

The book has several chapters on Brautigan's 1961 fishing adventures, as an early Hippie, in Idaho.

Redfish Lake is still: "The Forest Lawn"-----as in the classy L.A. Cemetery---of camping in Idaho.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
WA, & NC & Idaho
Sep 5, 2011 - 11:31pm PT
Nice pics fritz, love the pika!

I am ruined for choss too, due to the city of rocks mostly,
Off topic, but what route did you climb at Chimney rock in the 1970s and was it a FA???

Captain...or Skully

or some such
Sep 5, 2011 - 11:35pm PT
I love that whole area, so I seriously dig any & all pics of it.
Many grand times still to be had up there.
TFPU, Fritz!

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2011 - 11:38pm PT
Ezra: Ooops. I saw the question in your Chimney Rock thread, and promtly forgot it.

No first ascents on Chimney. Climbed the standard route in 1973 and the Rappel route in 74. I tried a new route on the East Face a year or two later and retreated.

My only new route in the Idaho Selkirks was a 5.7-5.8 on the south side of Harrison Peak in 1973. I was too anti-guidebook to submit it for publication.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Sep 5, 2011 - 11:51pm PT
Nice TR, Fritz.

Sep 6, 2011 - 08:40am PT
Thanks for the TR. What's it doing so cold already? Just the other day in Bozeman it was in the 90's!

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 6, 2011 - 09:35am PT
Re: What's with the weather being so cold?

Cold front blew through Idaho last Weds and left cold clear weather for the weekend. Stanley area is always a "Frost Pocket."

The Sawtooths are back to highs in the 70's and lows in the low 30's for this week. Sept. up there can be real pleasant, or not.

Trad climber
Triumph, Idaho
Sep 6, 2011 - 10:21am PT
Fritz, this trip does qualify as a BACK OFF. And it is a good one, what with camping at the spa etc. You are the first in with a BACK OFF story this year and therefore in the lead position for our coveted BACK OFF AWARD. As you know, the award is granted each year to a climber whose back off story is found most charming by the DFC&FC BACK OFF COMMITTEE.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 6, 2011 - 11:53am PT
viva adventure!

Trad climber
Boise, ID
Sep 7, 2011 - 02:18am PT
Great adventure - I think that is me in the red trunks out front. By the way, my 6 year old is fascinated by your crystal story. When we hike or climb anywhere she is always looking out for a cave with pumpkin sized crystals.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2011 - 09:19am PT
Apolobamba: When we walked off into the Redfish Lake Lodge beach scene: I slightly expected some Ketchum or Hailey friend to step out of the crowd, hand me a beer, and ask what we had been up to.

The funniest part of the scene there was: as we drove away, walking in single-file toward the beach was a guy dressed as a 19th century figure, leading a 4 or 5 women dressed in pioneer clothing. As I was trying to relate their dress to a S. Idaho Mennonite colony: Heidi screams: "Polygomists! They're fuking Mormon Polygimists." After chatting about what they would think of beach scene and what the beach scene would make of them, Heidi settled into travel.

Twenty minutes later: she had the Eureka moment. "The Polygimists" had likely been dressed in character for the same day: Wagon Days Parade in Ketchum, 50 miles away. They had come up to Redfish to have some fun with the crowd.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 7, 2011 - 11:43am PT
Messages 1 - 19 of total 19 in this topic
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