McGown Peak, although not quite 10,000 ft high, is one of the more famous and easily accessible mountains. It provides the beautiful backdrop to Stanley Lake.
The easiest route is class 3, with several snow climbs and technical ascents available.
The climbing season is typically May through October, with the May/June months seeing snow climbing and ski descents.
Drive 4.5 miles west of Stanley, ID on highway 21. Turn west (left) onto Stanley Lake Rd. and drive 4 miles on paved road FS 455. The trailhead is near the Inlet Campground.
From the trailhead, hike about a 1 mile south on an excellent trail to the junction with the Alpine Way trail, which you will turn east onto. Follow this trail for about 2.5 miles to a saddle due east of the peak. From here, we followed the ridge west until we dropped into the east cirque described in Tom Lopez's book. We basically followed the cirque to the base of the east rib as described in the book. Once we got to the base of the summit block, we traversed northerly about 50 feet under the summit until we could see the register on top, then made our way to the top. One word of advice is to stick to the rib on descent. We tried descending just to the left of the rib (just north of it) and had some pretty hard class 3/4 stuff to contend with, instead of what surely would have been a fun slide on scree on the other side of the rib.
Fees and Permits
No fees are permits are required anymore.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA)
Sawtooth National Recreation Area preserves 765,000 acres of picturesque mountains and valleys in central Idaho. At the heart of the area is the Sawtooth Valley where Salmon River originates (just to the north of Galena Pass 8,701 ft on Route 75). The valley is broad and ranges in elevation from 6,000 ft at its northern end (near the town of Stanley) to 7,500 ft at the southern end (near Galena Pass). The mountains are very jagged and are snowbound most of the year. They include the White Cloud Range to the east of the valley and the Sawtooth Range to the west. The area contains more than 300 mountain lakes and 40 peaks higher than 10,000 ft (highest point Castle Peak 11,820 ft). Grasses carpet the Sawtooth Valley and lodgepole pines cover the mountains. A 217,000 acre area in the Sawtooth Mountains has been designated as a wilderness.
There is an online, reservable campground near the trailhead, here is the link to that:
Campground is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
You can view current conditions in the general area by visiting this web cam:
You can also ask on this web forum: