After nursing a stress fracture in my foot for 4 weeks during a warm and
clear September in Idaho, I was eager to get to the mountains before the snow
Super Dave had Regan on his list and was eager to get out also, so we
arranged for a mid week outing. We knew the weather was still great with
minimal to no new snow. We would soon discover there wasn't a bit of new snow,
even on the north faces of the mountains. This usually isn't case by early
October in the Sawtooths- often there's at least a skiff. The days were
getting short and we drove mostly in the dark to the trailhead to start the day.
The Iron Creek Trailhead is one of the most popular in the range. From
here you can hike to Sawtooth, Alpine, or Goat Lakes. But today we would
not see a single person, despite spending about 13 of the 17 miles on trail.
The day started cold, but we quickly warmed up. In fact it turned out to
be a unusually warm day. We wouldn't have bright sunshine today, but the
intermittent sun and clouds with warm temps was very comfortable. We
ascended quickly and passed Alpine Lake and was soon at scenic Sawtooth Lake.
At the south end of the lake, Mt. Regan towers majestically above. Despite
being on the the most photographed peaks, Regan sees just a handful of ascents
per year in part because of an exposed Class 3-4 summit block.
From the south end of Sawtooth Lake, we descended to the unnamed lake below
Lake 8271. From here, we left the trail and traversed rocky slopes to a
narrow gully that starts the Southeast Ridge of Mt. Regan. The going is
loose in this lower gully, and about 3/4 toward the top, the exit gully on the
extreme left became apparent. It was here that I had my first recollection
of this climb from 10 years ago. At that time Regan was high on my list
after a failed attempt (snow) and I remember feeling jubilation at the top.
I was happy to be with Dave today and hopefully share with him, similar feelings
at the top. From the top of the exit gully, which is actually a col on a
ridge, we made our way onto more solid ground. We followed the slopes over
relatively easy terrain to the edge of the ridge.
There's a point on the SE ridge where you can look a massive drop off and
over toward Sawtooth Lake. Soon enough we were at the headwall of the
summit. All things considered, the scramble to this point is pretty
straight forward and mostly Class 2. I remembered the first time at this
headwall without any beta and trying to figure out which way to go. I must
have been pretty green then, because it was pretty obvious now which way to go.
From this point the scramble gets interesting and Dave led the way up a solid
ramp on the right side of the headwall. This ramp led us to the dark and
chilly north slopes and a series of ledges. We traversed narrow ledges
with huge drop offs. At a point there's a few Class 4 moves up loose
boulders. The going isn't tough, but it drops straight away below.
Closer to the top, the slopes are mostly dirt and soon enough we were on the
Dave and I exchanged high fives and took in the extraordinary views of
Sawtooth Lake, Trailer Lakes, and
Moolack Mountain to name a few sights. When it came time to sign the
register we were disappointed to find that it was gone. Signing summit
registers are a minor point to me, but I'm always eager to see how many folks
have made it up and when. On the most popular peaks in the West, I don't
even bother to sign, but here there is still history in the Sawtooths to see.
I regularly find signatures dating back to the 1940's-60's and often it's a
decade or more on the more obscure peaks of the range. Recently on
Blizzard Mountain I was the 2nd to sign a summit log after the 1989 party.
Word is that there is a movement a foot not only in the Sawtooths, but in the
West in general to remove summit registers. It would be a shame to lose
On our descent we decided that our estimated "be home" time would have to be
violated because we were feeling good and wanted to explore the ridge and high
point due east of Regan- Point 9486 or South Alpine. We got back to the
trail below Regan and got some water from the lake to keep hydrated. Near
here we aimed for a low point on the ridge between Alpine and South Alpine.
It was a scree slog until the ridge, but then it gave way to more solid rock and
white quartz. The highest point was little more than a high point on a
long ridge, but it had a view of a good sized secret lake nestled in a nook-
Lake 8771. We could also see Lakes 8470 to the north and spectacular
backpacking sites. At this time we decided the ridge to Alpine looked
pretty doable so we made out way in good time over to the top. We were treated
to a close encounters with a Marten at the summit- he was curious about us.
The summit log here was also missing. Soon enough we steeply descended
scree slopes back to the trail and got back to the car right at dark happy with
3 peaks in a day in October.
Trip Stats: 117 miles, 6223 ft, 11 hours