Chockstone Climbing

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Trip Report
Idaho, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Jun 4, 2006
Mountaineering, Mixed
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
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Chockstone Climbing
Created On: Jun 5, 2006
Last Edited On: Jun 5, 2006
Table of Contents


Couloir Climbing

The Chockstone Couloir is one of the most visible snow climbs in the Sawtooths. The route can be easily viewed from Stanley or the Redfish Lake area. As one of the closest climbs to a trail in the region, I’d been waiting for the optimal time for this climb.  Early season is perfect, as much of the backcountry is still snowed under.  The Redfish Lake Lodge is often crowded during midsummer with hikers, backpackers, boat enthusiasts, and families staying in the cabins and playing around the high altitude beach.  The Lodge also offers a nifty boat shuttle that takes climbers across Redfish Lake to the edge of the wilderness area.


On this early June Sunday, there was virtually no one around the Redfish Lake area, including the shuttle boat driver.  After a substantial delay, he was awoken and took across the lake.  From the Inlet Transfer Camp, we followed a trail across a raging Redfish Creek and up to Lily Pond.  From here, we made our way just east of an unnamed lake and south toward the lower bowl below the climb.


Chockstone Couloir

The Chockstone Couloir Route is a prominent slash on the north side of the Grand Mogul that climbs up steeply from about 8400 feet to 9400 feet.  We followed the prominent snowfield below and entered the narrow chutes.  With crampons and ice axes, we kicked easy steps up steep snow.  The condition of the snow was nearly perfect, as it took mostly just one kick to create a great foothold.  About half way up the couloir, we encountered the Chockstone section.  Early in the season the stone, which is a massive lodged rock that blocks the way, was mostly covered with snow.  The small section of exposed rock was troublesome though, as it contained solid ice, loose rock, no good exposed handholds, and a long steep drop below.  The anchor on the right side of the wall was most likely below the depth of snow.  We made our way through this tricky section utilizing some very ugly, grungy, and sprawling moves.  We didn’t place protection, but found an abandoned 200m rope hanging down over this section.  It was obvious someone had to bail, because you would never willingly rappel this route after summiting.



GRand Mogul Descent

Above the Chockstone, which I would classify as the crux of this route, the snow climbing eased out a bit, before ending on some really steep snow that gets more sun than most of the rest of this route.  After cresting the high angle top of the couloir, we were at a small saddle just northwest of the summit.  As we stepped over to the more southerly exposed side, we switched from crampons to our approach shoes and scrambled Class 3-4 over mostly large blocks of beautifully solid granite.  A very fun traverse around the base of the summit block to the southeast side of the peak, revealed a Class 3-4 chimney above broken snow fields.  We took this to the summit, where we found the metal summit box. 


Grand Mogul

The views from the summit were spectacular as an approaching storm neared.  Nearby Heyburn Mountain with its two technical summit towers sits just to the north and the seldom seen northeast side of the Elephant’s Perch is visible.  In the distance Warbonnet Peak and Packrat Peak sit ragged and jagged, but within just a few miles of this summit are The Rotten Monolith, Quartzite Peak, Braxon Peak, Chockstone Peak, Redfish Peak, Goat Perch, The Splinter Tower, and Decker Peak.  All these peaks contain enticing climbs or scrambles.


Rappel off the Summit

There is no good descent from the summit, and I would say that the scramble down over broken ledges, snowfields, loose scree, and through heavy brush was the most tiresome portion of the day.  We descended east directly down to the unnamed lake at 8600 feet. The lake was completely frozen over, despite the recent string of 70-80 days.  From the lake, we descended north, just east of the avalanche gulley (steer clear unless you enjoy heavy brush) and make good time until we were 500 feet above Redfish Lake where we encountered the heavy brush that seems to on most of the lower slopes.  An alternative would be to find the trail that sits east of the frozen lake, but it would still require bushwhacking with some more scrambling. This trail will take you back in a round about way. 


Grand Mogul Summit

The Chockstone Couloir is one of the area’s premier snow climbs and is one of the most accessible with its relatively short approach.  Other good steep snow climbs in the area include The Petzoldt Couloir on Heyburn, The June Couloir on Williams, The Sickle Couloir on Horstmann, and the McGown North Couloir.



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Chockstone Climbing

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