Elephants Perch

Page Type
Mountain/Rock
Location:
Idaho, United States, North America
Activities:
Mountaineering, Trad Climbing
Season:
Summer, Fall
Elevation:
9870 ft / 3008 m
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91.75% Score
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Page By:
rpc
Elephants Perch
Created On: Jul 7, 2004
Last Edited On: Mar 5, 2009

Overview

West Face
The Elephants Perch
Elephants Perch
The Elephants Perch - Idaho
Saddleback Peak & Elephants Perch

Originally called Saddleback Peak, the mountain lies immediately southwest of the Grand Mogul Peak (9733 foot mountain visible from Redfish Lake Lodge). The peak was named for its distinct shape - a saddle-like ridge (oriented SW-NE) with two highpoits located at either end. The summit elevation given is that of the NE summit - a seldom climbed spire (class 3 route reaches its summit). Elephants Perch is the lower (but much more popular with climbers) of the two peaks located at the SE end of the ridge. Its east, south, and west faces drop off sharply forming the most dramatic granite faces in Idaho (up to 1200 feet in height). The rock is generally solid and has a striking gold-orange color. Unlike most peaks in the Sawtooths which are generally characterized by jagged ridges and protruding spires, Elephants Perch is dome-like when viewed from west, south, or east. According to Tom Lopez's book, 25 routes have been established on Elephants Perch. The easiest route to the top is a "class 3" dirty gully scramble (it's got a low 5-th class chimney on it - so much for class 3). It is however the highly aesthetic technical climbs that draw "crowds" to the Perch.

Acknowledgements

Elephants PerchSunset
swimMoonrise

I wish to thank Nic, Dan, and Sean D. for the Sawtooths beta and the route topo(s). If you do any climbing in the area (and you're out of town) you'll soon realize that getting climbing info. is not a trivial matter. aaron weaver and brutus of wyde provided updates and corrections for some sections on this page (thanks!).

Getting There

Looking up Redfish Lake Creek...
After camping in the...Pure Approach
Elephants Perch
Elephants Perch
Mountaineers Route
Sunrise Book
A look at Saddleback Peak...
Elephants Perch
Mount HeyburnCheaters' Approach
Thin, sustained 5.10+...Myopia
Ari onsights the crux of...Myopia
Perching on the Elephant

Saddleback Peak (Elephants Perch) is located inside the Sawtooth Wilderness in south central Idaho. As the crow flies, the peak is approximately 70 miles northeast of Boise, ID. Driving distance from Boise however is approximately 140 miles. The most common starting point for the hike in is Redfish Lake. Town nearest to the trailhead is the beautifully positioned Stanley, Idaho.

From the town center in Stanley (junction of Idaho highways 21 and 75), take highway 75 south for approximately 5.5 miles to the Redfish Lake turnoff, a paved road on the right hand side of the highway. Take that road following signs for the Redfish Lake Lodge (approx. 4 miles). The Lodge operates a high speed boat shuttle between the north and south ends of Redfish Lake. The boat ride reduces the hike in distance by about 4 or 6 miles (?) EACH way. The cost is $7.50 per person each way and is payable at the marina. The boat shuttle makes several scheduled runs per day (check with marina - those times have been changing) but it also leaves on demand from the lodge end of the lake (north end) for two or more passengers. The boat ride is approximately 7 minutes each way. For more information regarding the boat shuttle contact the Redfish Lake Lodge at 208-774-3536. The Lodge operates a general store and a restaurant - both within 50 yards of the marina. Note that although it is convenient to drop off your packs right in the marina parking lot, you are not allowed to park here if you're going for an overnight trip. Overnight parking area is approximately 1/8 mile earlier along the Redfish Lake access road. If you do not wish to use the boat shuttle, you can hike the trail along the lake's northwest shore.

Once across the lake at its southern end (Redfish Inlet Transfer Camp), hike the Redfish Lake Creek trail southwest for approximately 2 miles (passing the junction with Bench Lakes trail shortly into the hike) to an unmarked junction with the climbers' trail heading off to the left (SE) toward Elephants Perch. The main trail takes a sharp turn right immediately after the junction. At the junction, you're about 100 feet (only) from the stream and you should be able to see the logs on which you will cross the stream. The turn off from the main hiking trail to Elephants Perch is also identified as the only time you are close enough to see the river since the start of the trail. If you find a talus field soon after you see the river, turn back.

Once across the stream (you cross the first set of logs to reach a mini-island and then cross another set of logs immediately thereafter), follow a decent climbers' trail right and uphill. The trail becomes easier to follow higher up - cairns mark your way through the slabs low on this trail. The trail follows the base of the slabs beneath the west face of Elephants Perch and then crosses the Saddleback Lakes drainage just before the first lake. The trail is steep and reaches the lowest (of three) Saddleback Lakes in about a mile from the junction (elevation c. 8200 feet). Good camping spots can be found around these lakes - these make for a perfect staging area for climbs on Elephants Perch.

All routes on the rock face (east, south, and west) are easily accessible from Saddleback Lakes. Hike back to the outlet from the lowest of Saddleback Lakes, cross it towards the face and scramble up the scree/boulder field avoiding the steep slabs to your left. Once near the base of the rock, make your way to the route of your choice.

Total approach time is about 2 - 3 hours from the marina.

Red Tape

Elephants Perch

Saddleback Peak (Elephants Perch) is located within the Sawtooth Wilderness Area, operated by the National Forest Service. However, the Redfish Lake trailhead is run by Sawtooth National Recreational Area which used to have its own pass. As of July, 2005, $5 fee for parking at the trailhead is no longer required. This was confirmed in conversations with the staff at the store and also with several locals climbing in the area.

Dogs are allowed. Please keep them leashed and pick up after them (they're also allowed on the boat shuttle).

When To Climb

Elephant s Perch - Sunrise Book - the top

"Normal climbing season" - July through September - offers the most stable weather. Thunderstorms are a major concern during early summer months. Additionally, Idaho highway 21 (Boise to Stanley connection) is subject to seasonal closures due to snow.

Camping

Elephants Perch

Camping at large is allowed within the Sawtooth Wilderness. Several established bivy sites can be found at Saddleback Lakes immediately southeast of Elephants Perch. Please observe the usual backcountry camping regulations (in particular, please pack out solid waste as the lakes are largely stagnant in late season).

Mountain Conditions

Typical belay on Myopia: no...Myopia

For most up to date conditions, contact the Sawtooth National Recreational Area office located in Stanley, Idaho at 208-727-5000.

Guidebooks

[img:120310:alignleft:small:Myopia]
Tom Lopez' Idaho - A Climbing Guide, Climbs, Scrambles, and Hikes provides a summary of some of the routes on the peak. The descriptions tend not to be very detailed given the format of the book.

Alan Kearney's Classic Climbs of the Northwest provides a realtively detailed description of the Mountaineers Route up Elephants Perch. However, Kearney also includes a photo topo of the route which is mostly inaccurate - it does not follow his text description and does not follow reality.

Web Source

This page is not to be missed by anyone planning climbs on The Perch: www.piquaclimber.com. Several route descriptions given with excellent photos and TR's.

External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-15 of 15

rpc

rpc - Aug 15, 2005 12:04 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Thanks Brutus. Added your info. to my E. Perch and Warbonnet pages.

rpc

rpc - Aug 19, 2005 1:32 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Brutus,


what did you climb there during your visit?


brutus of wyde

brutus of wyde - Aug 20, 2005 7:32 pm - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

Our first time in the Sawtooths, so: Mountaineer's Route on Elephant's Perch.





First we rented a canoe and paddled ourselves and our gear across the lake to the Transfer camp, where we left the canoe for pickup by the shuttleboat.





Then hiked in (in the rain), scampered up the route between storms, hiked out (in the rain) and grabbed the shuttle back to the Lodge.

rpc

rpc - Sep 2, 2005 1:47 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Thanks Aaron.


Made your corrections/additions & gave you credit in the Acknowledgement section on main page (also made those relevant changes on my Warbonnet page). Take a looksee and let me know if it reads right now.

rpc

rpc - Jan 25, 2006 11:43 am - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Thanks Sean!


this is good and useful info.

brutus of wyde

brutus of wyde - Aug 15, 2005 9:49 am - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

$5 Fee for parking at the trailhead is no longer required as of July 2005. This was confirmed in conversations with the staff at the store and also with several locals climbing in the area.





Brutus

rpc

rpc - Aug 15, 2005 12:04 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Thanks Brutus. Added your info. to my E. Perch and Warbonnet pages.

rpc

rpc - Aug 19, 2005 1:32 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Brutus,


what did you climb there during your visit?


aaron weaver - Sep 2, 2005 12:32 am - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

The Redfish Lake turn off is 5.5 miles SOUTH of Stanly along Hwy 75. The Lodge is 1.5 miles from this turn off. The cost of the boat ride is now $6.00 each way. Forest Service fee's are no longer required. The turn off from the main hiking trail to Elephants perch is identified as the only time you are close enough to see the river since the start of the trail. If you find a talus field soon after you see the river, turn back.

rpc

rpc - Sep 2, 2005 1:47 pm - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Thanks Aaron.


Made your corrections/additions & gave you credit in the Acknowledgement section on main page (also made those relevant changes on my Warbonnet page). Take a looksee and let me know if it reads right now.

SawtoothSean

SawtoothSean - Jan 25, 2006 2:00 am - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

There are many technical routes that could be added to the Routes section- I thought an important thing to add was the descent route. Given, the word of mouth nature of beta, this info will save people some time and effort.

rpc

rpc - Jan 25, 2006 11:43 am - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Thanks Sean!


this is good and useful info.

brutus of wyde

brutus of wyde - Dec 9, 2007 2:01 pm - Voted 10/10

Sunbeam Hot Springs

the attached link is good for getting a feel for Sunbeam Hot Springs.



http://revver.com/video/144953/sunbeam-hot-springs-near-stanley-idaho/

reboyles

reboyles - Jun 19, 2013 8:49 am - Voted 10/10

Easy ascent/descent

The 3rd gully (looking up from the biv site) is the easiest way up and down the west side of the Perch. It's a little longer hike but it avoids the short 5th class section in the main gully.

Wilderness Climber

Wilderness Climber - Aug 14, 2015 2:53 pm - Hasn't voted

Saddleback Lakes - Elephants Perch

The climbers trail to the Elephants Perch is not maintained by the Forest Service and can be very challenging. The log crossing at Redfish Lake Creek occasionally blows out during high water. This log crossing can be very sketchy, please use extreme caution, or consider crossing in the water if it is low enough. Remember, you are traveling in Wilderness.

Campfires are NEVER allowed at Saddleback Lakes. Campfires are illegal due to the high amount of use this area receives and the sensitivity of this beautiful high alpine environment.

Groups can be no larger than 12, all need to get a free wilderness permit at the trailhead.

If you replace webbing on a route please cut out the old or weathered webbing.

Future access to this amazing area depends on our responsible use.

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