This striking Sawtooth Tower is probably the second most rock climbed peak in the range. It boasts over 9 technical routes, with the easiest way to the summit being 5.7. Located in the Central Sawtooths, it sits well below and east of the main Sawtooth Crest, so it is not obvious from highway ID-75. The road approach involves a hideous 4WD road; one of Idaho's worst backcountry roads. The tower itself rises over 1000 feet and is composed of mostly solid granite. There are many nearby rock towers, with most requiring Class 5 climbing to reach the summits. The Arrowhead, The Coffin, Mt. Sevy, and the Birthday Cake all have unpublished rock routes. Here are some well known routes on the Finger of Fate:
1) The Book (II 5.8) - the most popular route up the Finger
2) Tiptoe (II, 5.10)
3) Feel Free (II, 5.8)
4) East Face (II, 5.11)- Over 1000 feet of climbing ; impressive long route first climbed by J. Beaupre and G. Webster in 1967
5) Drizzlepus (II, 5.7)
6) Bino's Book (II, 5.9)
The first overall ascent of the Finger of Fate did not occur until 1958, when Louis Stur and Jerry Fuller (Sawtooth Climbing Pioneers) made the climb up the SE face.
The Finger of Fate is located about 2.5 miles south of the Elephant's Perch in the Hell Roaring Drainage. It sits on a ridge leading due East from Sevy Peak.
From Stanley, Idaho take ID-75 south for 12 miles, turn west at Decker Flat, cross the Salmon River and then drive 5 miles on one of the worst 4 wheel drive roads in Idaho. High clearance is required and large boulders need to be negotiated at times.
Hike / Scramble Approach
From the trailhead cross Hell Roaring Creek (can be difficult crossing in high water), and hike a relatively flat trail for 1.7 miles until you reach Hell Roaring Lake (Elevation 7407). The main trail goes left here and out toward Imogene Lake. You'll take a climber's trail on the right hand side (north) of the lake until you reach a stream inlet at which the hiking steepens. At mile 3 (from the trailhead), you'll reach a gorgeous unnamed lake at 8179 feet. This destination makes a great bivy spot if needed. From here, follow the drainage that runs SE of the Finger of Fate. At about 8700 feet you'll turn due north and traverse just east of the tower with the full 1000 foot East Face (5.11) route visible. Continue rock hopping around toward the NE side where you'll most likely encounter a snow field. The popular Open Book (5.8) route starts here in a shady corner. A few other routes are just to the right (west) at this point and the standard rappel descent is just around the corner on the NW side.
They ask you to get a permit at the trailhead, yet backcountry rangers are virtually non existent. They recently made the trailhead further away from Hell Roaring lake. You now get to hike an extra 1.5 miles on the dusty road bed you used to be able to drive on. On the positive side, they removed a few rocks from the rough road leading in.
When To Climb
Standard climbing season is June through October. Conditions may dictate whether you can negotiate the road. I've been at the Finger as late as early December and as early as late April. A cross country ski in would be possible from ID-75.
Camping is allowed virtually anywhere in the region
For more information go to the Stanley Ranger Station Site
Sawtooth Web Cam can give you a good idea of the conditions in the area:
SNOTEL site gives latest snow depth readings:
Google Maps also gives snow depth maps:
Sawtooth Climbing InformationSawtooth Climbing Beta is hard to come by. There is no official book or publication that gives detailed description. Here are a few references that have some more basic information and photographs:
1) Climbing Magazine #15
2) Rock & Ice #44
3) Off Belay: The Mountain Magazine Feb 1975 #19 (Whole issue devoted to rock climbing in the Sawtooths, but hard to find)
4) American Alpine Journal- Issue 47 (1973)
- Sawtooth Camera
This will give you an idea of the local conditions (Camera about 15 miles north of the Finger)
- SNOTEL site
Vienna Mine snow depth readings- sensor is about 15 miles south of the Finger at a similar elevation
- Google Earth Snow Cover Maps
This will give great snow coverage maps. Usage of Google Earth is required.