Friday, June 27, 2008

An Easy Hike (McGown)

I was supposed to go climb on the Perch again today, but got up here last nite, found Tim and he had to work today. Was a blessing however as I didnt think I had another day at the Perch in me so soon. It is just a ton of work, and you constantly have to be on the ball all day, which is mentally tiring alongside the vast amount of physical work that has to be done.

So I settled into a beautiful camp above the lake and took some great sunset photos while I was trying to figure out what to do. Here are my favorites, but check out the rest because they are all pretty neat.

Fire in the Sky

More Fire

Stars over Thompson Peak - a 3 hour exposure from about 10 till midnite

When i got up in the morning I was no closer to knowing what I wanted to do. Most of the climbs are approached via Redfish Lake which requires a 15 dollar (an well worth it) boat ride to the far side of the lake which saves 5 miles of hiking each way. Didnt have a particular desire to do something specific so i looked elsewhere. Was bad enough that i was driving through Stanley (such as it is) and trying to read my guidebook at the same time! Settled on the northernmost Sawtooth Peak called McGown.

A view of McGown only 100 yards past the trail register.

Of the parts of the hike that were a slog (every hike has them) this had the nicest. Wildflowers and rivers break up the monotony of the easier hiking. After a mile on the Stanley Lake trail you turn left onto the Alpine Way trail. This crosses several rivers and a swamp (mosquitoes!) and then gains a bunch of elevation on its way to a saddle below the McGown Cirque.

View through the trees on the way up to the Saddle

The rest of the hike is off trail, but not too bad. I dont have a lot of batteries in my GPS so instead of following it precisely i would just turn it on here and there to verify my location.

The hike is sort of tricky because as you come up into the cirque from the trees you have actually passed McGown and are more in the cirque for the next peak. Ended up being beneficial as there was a raging stream more easily crossed up high. Traversed over ledges and increasingly snow to the basin below the East Face of McGown.

A view of the route, bypassing the massive East Face via the ledges and snowed rib on the left.

Moving was pretty easy. Mostly stayed on the rock because that is my comfort zone. The rock here wasnt too great. Extremely coarse granite that isnt well adhered together. So lots of sandy bits.

Interestingly however, the Sawtooh granite has a lot of Feldspar, and when it crumbles like this it will tint the snow almost to a Koolaid color.

The last and trickiest part of the climb is to get to the summit. There is a summit block that you traverse on snow underneath and then scramble up the block as the going gets easier.

If i had traversed farther (to the ridge) the rock might have been easier, but the snow conditions were not great so i choose the slightly harder rock variation instead. Might be 4th class or low 5th. However it did put me directly on the summit.

Close up of the Sawtooths looking south from the summit.

Full Summit Pano

Got to practice the fine art of boot skiing on the way down. Made it back to the main cirque in 15 minutes compared to 2 hours on the way up. Found a neat little spire and had lunch.

Pano from the top of the spire.

And of course the mandatory Self Portrait.

Rest of the way down was uneventful. Not bad for a rest day.

Here are the rest of the statistics... Didnt have the GPS running so no nifty elevation profile etc.

Starting Elevation - 6400
Summit - 9860

Roundtrip 9 miles
Duration: 6 hours

And an improvised Google Map showing the way i went (approximately)

View Larger Map


Unknown said...

The stars pic is sweet.

Dominic said...

That was rather accidental actually. Put the camera on top of the car and let the shutter stay open. Fell asleep and just happened to get up before dawn which would have ruined it.

Cool pic though.

Unknown said...

Even better! Serendipity rules.