McGown Peak Climber's Log

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Annalikeslenses - Jul 21, 2021 2:09 pm Date Climbed: Jul 20, 2021

Summit minus 50'  Sucess!

A little unsure whether we can check the "Were you successful?" box - we were, just minus about 50'! Hit the trail at just past 5am, found the small cairn at the saddle 3.75 miles in pointing to the climber's trail (a little deadfall at first but then pretty easy to follow up to the lakes). The east rib was as advertised: extremely steep and a sketchy choice between packed-dirt gullies or loose scree on granite. We hit the ridge at about 9800' right at the southern base of the summit block a little before 9:30 and were stumped. Checked out possible routes around the west face and everything looked like dangerous class 4 with no indication of anything even close to the "easy class 3" route described. We thought maybe the earthquake had taken out the route and decided to live to climb another day. In retrospect, sounds like we should have headed north from the east rib about 50' BELOW the ridge and found our way up from the east side of the summit block rather than west (this looked like impassable sheer cliffs from below). Wish that had been clearer from the route descriptions and trip reports, none of which included GPX files, summit block route pictures, or particularly thorough directions. A little bummed but not enough to re-attempt - hope this helps someone else! Also, the scree skiing descent is probably much better the further south you head down - descend too close to the east rib and you'll find sections of steep slippery rock intermixed with scree.


katelyngeselle - Jul 29, 2020 4:23 pm Date Climbed: Jul 18, 2020

Rough rocks on your hands, shale is on top of large rocks, be careful  Sucess!

Hiked in from Stanley Lake. You could also backpack in to shorten the day. Bring gloves or be prepared for your hands to be cut up by the end of the hike. Be very careful on this peak, especially on the way down!! What appears to be shale is really just small rocks on top of larger rocks, making it extremely slick. One of our group took a pretty long, bad fall because of this. It is time-consuming coming down because you have to be so careful about where you put your feet. I would probably suggest pants because you'll probably slip at least a little at some point.


wyatt_meyers - Jul 23, 2020 12:48 pm Date Climbed: Jul 18, 2020

Mcgown Peak  Sucess!

Follow the Alpine trail that goes from Stanley Lake to Iron Creek. Just before the top of the ridge the trail to the base lakes goes off on the right. Once at the back base lake we followed the ridge up from behind the lakes to the summit. Wrapping around the summit lower to the right (north) leads to a easier route to the top once you're at the base rock. The shoot just to the left (east) of the peak when looking at it from the base lake is supposedly easier up and down (obvious shoot from the bottom all the way up). If you don't take the shoot it is slick shale thin layered over rough rock faces, maybe take gloves!


SawtoothSean - Sep 16, 2019 9:20 pm Date Climbed: Jul 6, 2019

North Couloir  Sucess!

straight forward snow climb until very top where snow and ice separated from rock and made it interesting


sjaxon16 - Aug 31, 2016 11:21 am Date Climbed: Aug 29, 2016

McGown Peak!  Sucess!

Working at Redfish lake lodge for the season! Went up on my day off, decided to trail run to it. One of the better peaks that ive done so far! Great views and valleys!


sroot - Jul 5, 2016 10:07 pm Date Climbed: Jun 28, 2016

First peak in the Sawtooths  Sucess!

Working at the Redfish Lake Lodge has been the perfect take off point for some sweet backpacking trips. Climbed McGown on my day off from the Stanley Lake trailhead and climbed up the east ridge past all the circs. Absolutely sweet mountain!


larch32 - Oct 19, 2014 9:20 pm Date Climbed: Jun 14, 2014

Mosquitos!  Sucess!

North couloir was great, although I wish we'd hit it a little earlier in the day instead of topping out in the early afternoon. The first bit of the approach required sandals, as we were walking through shin-deep water over the trail for about a quarter mile. The crux was keeping your pants rolled up enough to stay dry but low enough to keep the mosquitos from devouring your legs.


MaverickMerk - Sep 4, 2014 1:11 pm Date Climbed: Aug 29, 2014

East Rib  Sucess!

As previously mentioned, there is a climber's trail from the pack trail all the way up to Cradle Lake in the cirque. All the deadfall makes it hard to see the junction off the pack trail, but there is a small cairn and if you stick to the south side of the ridge you will come across the trail.

As far as the rib goes, the bottom half is a little tricky, we alternated between the base of the rib on the scree, and climbing the slabs on the rib. However, the top half of the rib was straightforward, climbing directly on the rib following the obvious treeline as seen from the cirque. Scree skied the entire way down well to the south of the rib, took about 20min down to the lake from the summit.

Roundtrip: ~3500' vertical, ~10miles, ~10hrs (6/4)at a leisurely pace.


Trevor. - Jun 5, 2014 2:08 pm Date Climbed: Jun 4, 2014

9115 N. Couloir to Mcgown N. Couloir  Sucess!

In order to get climbing before the snow warmed up too much, Chris and I left the Stanley Lake TH at 4am, making crossing the very high Stanley Lake Creek all the more difficult in the dark. From there, we went up the 9115 north couloir. The snow was fairly consolidated, and the climbing was easy, so it only took us 1.5hrs from the base to point 9115.

From 9115, we traversed the ridge to McGown, dropping just enough elevation to wind up at the base of the impressive McGown Couloir. We climbed up the McGown N. Couloir, did a gnarly exposed traverse across some really steep snow once out of the couloir, and scrambled the last few feet to the summit.

To descend, we decided the gully west of the summit looked interesting, and headed down that way. It was steeper than it looked and we wound up front pointing down 1000ft of steep snow(at least as steep as either couloir we climbed!) before the angle mellowed enough to glissade the rest of the way to Stanley Lake Creek. Definitely not the easiest way down, but it's doable if you're feeling adventurous.


boisedoc - Aug 17, 2013 12:39 am Date Climbed: Aug 15, 2013

steep  Sucess!

east rib was as advertised. Steep with loose gravel in places making for exhausting climbing at times. Despite warnings on here, I still managed to off the north side of the rib on the descent- this went OK but we missed out on a lot of scree skiing. Smoke and haze from the fires by Sun Valley led to less than stellar views so we did not linger on the summit very long. The round trip took about six and half hours.


idpeakgirl - Jul 22, 2013 3:01 pm Date Climbed: Jul 21, 2013

East Rib  Sucess!

Smoke in the valley and nearby but clear for us until end of the day. Recommend sticking on the east rib (granite) itself and its right/north edge. The scree adjacent to its left/south is tempting to follow up along its edge where it interfaces with the rib, but the lower edges are crumbly and unstable. We found it best to gain the rib and follow it up along its right side; just climb up and over to its right after the scree gets tougher to manage. Coming down, the open scree slope to the left/south of the rib provides a nice, wide area for a smooth, soft scree ski. The summit only has room for 4 bodies. Also, there is a trail all the way into the cirque from the saddle where it leaves the Alpine trail. The trail is tough to spot from the saddle due to recent tree fall. 8 hour day for our group; 3.5 hours from TH to summit.


tommyluke - Jun 16, 2013 1:55 pm Date Climbed: Jun 15, 2013

Beauty of a day  Sucess!

My brother and I finally made it back to McGown and reached the tippy-top. We left late on Friday, slept below the cirque, climbed Saturday and returned home. We saw a lone person (while we were making coffee in the cirque) on the top at about 08:30 but never connected with them - although their footprints were helpful. This being our first time up the cairns on the summit block were helpful, thank you.


tommyluke - Aug 7, 2012 4:30 pm Date Climbed: Jul 23, 2012

No cigar

My brother and I had planned on this peak for months before he visited from Tennessee last month. We made it to about 9,200' before turning back after a rest. My little brother lacks no stamina but - holy cow - he must've been hit by altitude sickness coming from Tennessee just two days prior. He was dizzy, rager head ache, nausious, etc. It was obvious we had hit the wall. We headed back. It was so lovely in the cirque, hadn't seen my brother in 3 years and it was dang fun despite the lack of summit.


mansfieo - Jul 9, 2012 1:11 pm Date Climbed: Jul 4, 2012

East Rib  Sucess!

Tried the N. Couloir last June, but got to the top and was late, raining, and the traverse across to the summit looked sketchy with all the wet snow. So we just skied down. Finally got to it again on America's Bday this year. Great day on the East rib... seriously screey!


SawtoothSean - May 28, 2012 11:04 pm Date Climbed: May 28, 2012

North Face Couloir  Sucess!

Great day climbing the couloir. Snow was really great with trickiest part being traverse from top of couloir to SE side.


SawtoothExplorer - Jul 28, 2011 9:24 pm Date Climbed: Jul 9, 2011

Close Call  Sucess!

I have always wanted to climb this route. Conditions were perfect with freezing temps for 2 nights in a row. I hit the base of the couloir at 8am. About half way up the couloir, I was hit by a silent rock missile , the size of a grapfruit, that grazed my chin then slamed me in the chest. I was lucky! I mean seriously lucky. Looking back at it, I don't think I could have done anything differently other than climb it in the dark. The climb was fantastic. Perfect weather and nice firm snow. Just glad I made it back.


maxhaze - Sep 29, 2010 2:56 pm Date Climbed: Aug 2, 2010

East Rib  Sucess!

Got kids aged 9 and 13 to base of summit block. Had to leave them at the top of the ridge because we were running out of time and energy. Lots of mosquitoes made it uncomfortable. Still worth it though. Summit was great.


Smoove910 - Sep 19, 2010 2:35 am Date Climbed: Sep 18, 2010

East Rib Ascent  Sucess!

Hated the scree, but was a fun trip with excellent scenery. I would recommend this hike in the Fall so you can experience all the colors this area has to offer. Stunning.

Scrambling Man

Scrambling Man - Jul 31, 2010 3:02 pm Date Climbed: Jul 24, 2010

Skiny Summit  Sucess!

Nice climb overall. The loose gravel was no fun. I liked the scramble near the top. Looking over the edge from the summit made my stomach drop a bit. Awesome views.


rmjwinters - Jul 18, 2009 10:02 pm Date Climbed: Jul 13, 2009

East Rib   Sucess!

Melissa and I successfully made the summit via the east rib. The route is not as easy as advertised in terms of mileage and effort. Sticking to the east rib is definitely advised for this route. The lower section of the ridge which is more vertical can be bypassed on the left(south) side for the first hundred feet or so by ascending the loose sand and scree.

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