Peak 9963 (Alpine Creek Lakes Peak)

Peak 9963 (Alpine Creek Lakes Peak)

Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Lat/Lon: 43.92151°N / 114.9907°W
County: Elmore/ Blaine
Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering
Season: Summer, Fall
Elevation: 9963 ft / 3037 m


Peak 9963, which is unnamed on the map , sits at the top of three drainages. One is very short and two are filled with lakes: Alpine Creek (~19 lakes) and Flytrip (~22 lakes). The routes for this peak use these drainages, and this makes Peak 9963 even more special because these basins are among the most special areas in the entire Sawtooth range. They are pristeen, seldom-visited gems.
From all indications, the peak itself is rarely climbed. We found no sign of man- no summit register, no cairns, no foot prints, and thankfully no trash. None. Not anywhere on either route.
The routes listed here are Class 2, with moderate distance and elevation gain from a camp in either of the previously-mentioned drainages. See the Getting There and Routes sections for more information.

Getting There

The Sawtooths  are in the heart of Idaho's mountainous central region. There are two routes discussed in the Routes section, but the easiest access to either of them is probably from the Alturas Lake area.
To get to the Alturas Lake trailhead, drive south from Stanley on Idaho 93 for about 21 miles. Turn right (west) at the Alturas Lake sign. Or drive north from Ketchum for about 40 miles and turn left (west).
From the highway, head to the lake and turn right (north). Follow the road around the lake. Once past the lake, the paved road will turn to good dirt suitable for any car (in season, of course). Follow the road to its end in about 6.5 miles from the highway.

For those so inclined, you can also access the Flytrip basin from Atlanta, a 75 mile dirt road starting from Highway 21 just outside Boise. This way, the approach to the Flytrip route would require about a 14 mile hike and 3500' gain.

Red Tape

This peak is in the Sawtooth Wilderness area. Wilderness rules apply; you need a self-issued Wilderness permit which is free and available on the trail.
Special wilderness rules apply: in particular, no fires are allowed without a fire blanket or fire box. But this is pristeen country, so instead stoves are recommended.


There are two direct routes up this mountain, with options for more if you are adventurous. 

Alpine Creek Lakes basin 
From the biggest lake in the Alpine Creek Lakes basin, which we call Casper Lake (look closely at the map and you'll see why), follow the rough hiker's trail around the south side of the lake, then continue on intermittent trail to the top of the basin. From that point, you are above timberline and can see pretty much the whole face. Seek out the line of least resistance. Or wander a bit and go for the best views.
STATS: Class 2, 1.5 miles, 1400' gain

Flytrip Lakes basin 
NW ridge
Flytrip Lakes view

From where the trail crosses the creek in Flytrip basin, head up through rough, timbered slopes with cliff bands. If you navigate well, it's never a hard hike. Miss your mark, though, and you might have to backtrack because of the cliffs. Shoot for the saddle between the NW ridge and the little peaklet at the end of the ridge. Once in the saddle, take your best line through the scree to the upper ridge. The ridge is flat to descending for a short time, then gets quite steep as you get close to the summit. Work your way through the loose stuff and trees.
STATS: Class 2, 1.75 miles, 1850' gain


Upper NW ridge
Upper NW ridge
peak is in a wilderness area, with open camping wherever you can find it. Most folks will pick one of the ~45 lakes available in the two main drainages. Please practice wilderness camping- Leave No Trace, don't camp within 100 feet of water, etc.

External Links

Sawtooth National Forest
Smiley Creek web cam (choose View 2)
Stanley cam and current weather
Sawtooth national Forest Avalanche Center

For additional information on other peaks in the area, please see Tom Lopez's excellent book, Idaho: A Climbing Guide.