Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Lat/Lon: 44.05919°N / 115.03315°W
County: Custer
Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Mixed, Scrambling
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Elevation: 9704 ft / 2958 m


Elk Peak and Reward

Towering just 1 mile southwest of Alpine Lake is Mount Alpen, a twin summitted peak that is mis-labeled on the USGS quad as Packrat Peak.  The north side of the peak contains a permanent snowfield that is marked on the map and offers a fun snow climb for most of the year.  Alpine Lake makes a great base camp, although the peak can be climbed in one day from Redfish Lake.  If using Alpine Lake as a jumping off point, the Eagle's Beak, which is just northeast of Alpine Lake, along with Alpen could make for a great 2 day trip in the Sawtooths. Packrat Peak and Mt. Underhill are other nearby possibilities.  The Baron Divide, just north of Alpen delineates the Sawtooth Range drainage.  South of Baron Pass, waters run to Redfish Lake and then the Salmon River.  North of Baron Pass, waters run to Baron Creek, South Fork of the Payette, and then the Snake River.  A trail goes over the Baron Divide and is one of the most spectacular and scenic spots in the range, although mostly backpackers and trail runners will view it, as it sits a rugged 11 miles from any trailhead.

Mount Alpen's summit ridge is broad and contains exceptional views to the north of the Monte Verita area, one of the premier rock climbing areas in the Sawtooth Range. The views to the south are of the massive Elk Peak, Reward, and Mt. Underhill.  Many of these peaks, including Alpen see few summit visits and complete solitude is a standard when off trail, and often when on trail. Known climbing routes on Alpen are mostly of the Class 3 snow variety, but abundant vertical rock on the north and east sides of the peak could lend itself to technical route development.


Mt. Alpen

North Snow Slopes (Class 3)-  the easiest way to summit starts on the west side of Alpine Lake.  Weave around the rock towers and make your way west toward the permanent snow field.  Climb the snow slope which is easy, but can be unnerving because the slope is so wide open.  Cramp-ons and Ice-Ax may be required, but depending on the conditions, you may be able to just kick steps in approach shoes or boots. From the prominent saddle, scramble and boulder hop southeast to the summit.

Northeast Slopes (Class 3-4)- See the Routes page for more information.

Getting There

Follow signs south of Stanley on ID-75 for the Redfish Lake turnoff.  Park at the backpackers parking lot and follow the trail along the west side of Redfish Lake or take the Redfish Shuttle (in season) across the lake.  Follow the Redfish Creek trail up this spectacular valley. You'll pass The Grand Mogul, Mt. Heyburn, The Elephant's Perch, and Goat Perch.  Near Flat Rock Junction, follow the trail north that climbs steadily to Alpine Lake.   The Redfish Lake area is one of the busiest in the area during the summer months.

Check the road conditions at:  Idaho Transportation Department

Packrat Peak

Conditions and Season

Conditions may vary greatly.  Access is typically from May to October. The approach road to Redfish Lake is gated at ID-75. 

The Sawtooth Valley can be one of the coldest areas in the nation during the winter. Negative readings are common.  Snowfall can vary and occur at any time. Summer days can still be hot, but you'll probably never experience 90 or above, especially once you get up higher. 

Nearby Stanley, Idaho Climate Data:
Jan Feb  Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Average Max. Temperature (F)  27.0 33.7  42.5 50.3 59.9 68.4 78.7  78.4 68.6 56.6 38.1  26.0 52.4
Average Min. Temperature (F) -0.5  0.3 9.7 20.3 28.3  33.9  36.0 34.0  27.2  20.6 12.0  -0.8 18.4
Average Total Precipitation (in.) 1.64 1.33 1.02 1.02 1.17 1.16 0.59  0.59 0.78 0.92  1.46   1.55  13.24
Average Total SnowFall (in.) 16.9 13.2  10.2 3.4 0.9  0.2  0.0  0.0 0.4  1.7  10.4  14.6  71.9
Average Snow Depth (in.)  18  20 15 0  0 0 0  2  8  6

Mt. Alpen Summit Ridge


External Links

Latest Avalanche Report (Sawtooth Area)

National Weather Service Current Forecast for Stanley:

Sawtooth Web Cam can give you a good idea of the conditions in the area:

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

SNOTEL site gives latest snow depth readings:       

Mt. Underhill-Mazama Couloir