Hike to summit of Alpine Peak, 9,861 feet in Sawtooth Wilderness, with close-up views of Mount Regan and beautiful Sawtooth Lake.
This explorumentary was written in 2013
Mt. Regan and Sawtooth Lake, Sawtooth Mountain Wilderness
In one of his commentaries from the TV show 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney advised listeners to “never stop climbing mountains”. In this segment, Rooney describes how he climbed Pilot Knob Mountain behind his cottage on Lake George in New York 4 or 5 times each summer during his childhood. One time, he and his friends got bored with the trails that led to the top, so they decided to make their own trail and head straight up the front of the mountain. The problem with this strategy, he said, was that they were never really sure which way was up because they had to hike up and down ridges and valleys, instead of a steady trail climb.
Alpine Peak, Elevation 9,861 feet, as viewed from Iron Creek Trail #640
Yesterday, Fred and I took Rooney’s advice for the fifth time this summer, and set out to climb Alpine Peak, a relatively “easy” hike up one of the major Sawtooth Mountain peaks. At an elevation of 9,861 feet, so much can be seen at the top: the large blue gorgeous Sawtooth Lake, Stanley Basin, and a great close-up view of the vertical cliffs of Mt. Regan. The approach to the foot of Alpine Peak is a 1,700 foot elevation gain, 5-mile hike to Sawtooth Lake. After hiking along the lake, you leave the trail and head straight up the granite talus slopes to the top, a gain of 1,400 feet in less than a mile. The route we took up was very steep, requiring us to grab stable rocks or trees to hoist ourselves and to not fall over backwards.
Trail # 478 on east side of Sawtooth Lake with impressive view of Mount Regan
Alpine Peak is located ~ 1 mile northeast of Mount Regan
Alpine Peak summit overlooking Stanley Basin
Register at top of Alpine Peak
Stanley Basin in background
Fred and Sue on top of Alpine Peak, Sawtooth Mountains, 9,861 feet
The Sawtooth Mountains were carved by glaciers during Pleistocene time, about 14,000 years ago, scraping striations in rock and carrying away huge amounts of glacial debris that formed many moraines (an accumulation of various -sized rocks that form hills) in the area.
There is no easy way down these mountains, only routes that look easier than others. We decided to hike along the ridge and angle our way down a talus slope. It was less steep than our ascent, but still tedious as we did some boulder-hopping and talus-sliding. This is an exercise in patience, not to mention helping to improve our balance!
Lucky we are to be able to climb these peaks. A quote I always remember when I am hiking a mountain is an inscription carved in Greek, found on a summit rock in the Alps by a Swiss adventurer in 1558 that says,
"The love of mountains is best."
After a hot hike back to the truck, a chocolate ice cream sandwich, cold beer, and dinner, we slept soundly in our trailer at the campground.
About this blog
– "explorumentaries" list trip stats and highlights of each hike or bike ride, often with some interesting history or geology. Years ago, I wrote these for friends and family to let them know what my husband, Fred and I were up to on weekends, and also to showcase the incredible land of the west. I hope to hear about your adventures!
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