<-- Map of summer 2019
     climbing 
roadtrip 
     (click to enlarge)

2 Climbs on ELEPHANT'S PERCH:
Climb 1: Myopia (IV, 5.11a, 9p)
Climb 2: Astro Elephant (IV, 5.10, 10p)

JULY
27-30
2019
TR #: 356

Category: Idaho       Summit Elev: 9,670 ft        Rock Type: Granite

Partner: Alexander Goldman

Back for another couple of climbs on Idaho's most awesome chunk of granite.

Elephant's Perch is a 1000' high hunk of golden granite in the Sawtooth Range. The rock quality is excellent and routes are long, steep, and sustained. My first climbing trip to the Perch was In July 2014, during which I climbed four routes on Elephant's Perch: Mountaineer's Route, Direct Beckey, Fine Line, and Astro Elephant (lower half) to Sunrise Book. After the July 2014 trip, I knew it was only a matter of time before I came back. 

I finally got the opportunity to return to the Perch five years later, in July 2019. I had just done some climbing in the Tetons and Wind Rivers, and thought it would be awesome to squeeze in a couple of climbs on the Perch before heading back to Colorado for the remainder of the summer. So I headed up there with Alexander Goldman (a climber from Seattle who had contacted me back when I lived in Washington but despite many efforts we never did end up climbing together until this trip, ironically after I had just moved away from Washington). Alexander and I climbed two routes. 

Day 1: Approach in the afternoon. An enjoyable boat shuttle across Redfish Lake followed by a quick 2.5 hour hike to Saddleback Lakes below the Perch.

Day 2: The primary objective of the trip was Myopia (IV, 5.11a, 9 pitches), so this is what we climbed first. A favorite Perch route of many climbers, Myopia climbs a beautiful corner system up a steep clean wall on the left side of the south face, involving a lot of techy 5.10 climbing. It was indeed a awesome route with some really good sections of climbing, but I found it to be a headier adventure than other hard climbs I've done on the Perch (like Direct Beckey or Fine Line); there are several locations where you are required to make hard moves above small (but good) gear.

Day 3: Our second day of climbing had some unexpected adventures. We headed up to climb Astro Elephant (IV, 5.10, 10 pitches); this route is a relatively moderate but sustained outing on the center of the south face, with two 5.10 pitches followed by several 5.9 pitches. It is a pretty popular route, being a step up from the Mountaineers Route but easier than the Direct Beckey, Fine Line, and Myopia. The forecast was for "20% afternoon thundershowers" so we figured we had plenty of time to climb to the top and get back down before any potential weather. However, the NOAA models for this day would prove to be woefully incorrect. By the time Alex was halfway up the first pitch, thunder was rumbling just over the horizon. The sky let loose just as Alex reached the top of his lead. Thus proceeded Bail #1. Our bail anchor had 2 totem cams, so we decided to wait at the base of the route for awhile to see if the storm would pass and allow us to climb. After an hour the weather looked much better. So we headed back up. This time I started up Pitch 1 on lead. It was like deja vu. Halfway up the pitch, thunder started to rumble, them boom, and rain let loose just as I reached our anchor. Bail #2. We decided to descend to camp this time. After a few hours in the tent, the sky had cleared and we convinced ourselves that the storm system had passed (after all, it was a 20% day, how big could this thing be?). So we slogged back up to the base of Astro Elephant, planning to climb the first half of the route to a big ledge system that could provide an easy exit. At the top of Pitch 1, the sky was still clear. Great! But it was if the weather was teasing us. Halfway up the Pitch 2 lead the thunder was back. And then the rain. Given our experience with the storm passing through quickly after the previous two times we bailed on the route, we might have waited it out at the top of Pitch 2, but the lightning flashing across the sky encouraged us to bail yet again. Bail #3. We had to do two raps this time, but the second was off a tree. At this point we gave up on the idea of climbing for the rest of the day. At least we had moved out bail anchor one pitch higher. And set a personal record: bailing three times on the same route. And on the same day! The storm system ended up continuing well into the night, bringing with it some impressive downpour, thunder, and lightning. 

Day 4: We woke up to clear skies (yay!), and headed back up to climb Astro Elephant (IV, 5.10, 10 pitches) and collect our bail anchor from the previous day. Since we had already climbed Pitches 1 and 2 of Astro Elephant the previous day, we decided to climb the three-pitch variation just to the right, called Sideline (5.9, 3 pitches), which meets up with Astro Elephant at the top of Pitch 3. We were able to traverse over into Astro Elephant on Pitch 3, and lower down to collect our bail anchor. We then continued up Astro Elephant. Astro Elephant is notorious for being a bit devious to route-find, but we didn't find it too hard to stay on route. Alex and I thought the route was an enjoyable adventure with some interesting climbing. We topped out just after noon. We had plenty of time to jump in the lake, pack up, hike out, and catch the 7pm boat back across Redfish Lake.

What a trip! Thanks for the enjoyable conversation and shared determination, Alex!

This page provides route overlays and photos for the two climbs Alex and I did on the Perch.

 
Above: Route overlays for routes I've climbed on the Perch (2014 and 2019). We climbed 2 of these routes during the 2019 trip documented on this page.

Jump to:
Approach Myopia Thundershowers and Bailing 3 times on the same route! Astro Elephant


APPROACH - JULY 27
Hike in and establish camp at Saddleback Lakes.
Approach map I made for my 2014 trip. Updated after July 2019 trip.
Photos:
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Photo descriptions:
1. View of the Sawtooths from the road between Ketchum and Redfish Lake. The burned trees are actually from the Hell Roaring Fire of July 2014, which had occurred when I was climbing the Perch in July 2014. (Here's a photo taken during my 2014 trip of the smoke.)
2. Leaving the Redfish hiker parking lot. It's a short hike to the marina from here.
3. Looking a bit out of place as we hike to the boat dock to catch the shuttle across Redfish Lake.
4. Shuttle boat signage.

5. Much better than hiking 5 miles around the lake...
6. On the trail. Photo by Alex.
7. The Perch in profile. This was taken shortly before we left the main trail to head up climbers' trail to the Perch.
8. Where we left the main trail to head up climbers' trail to the Perch.
9. Log crossing. This is a different log crossing than in 2014. I suspect it washes out every year and is rebuilt.
10. Our camp at Saddleback Lakes below the Perch.
11. Hang your food or you will come back to camp and it will all be gone and there will be a bunch of fat chipmunks waddling around.
12. Alex contemplating his second dinner...
13. Nope, the lighter is not edible.
14-15. Alex relaxing at camp doing some sketching.



CLIMB 1 - JULY 28
Climb Myopia (IV, 5.11a, 9 pitches).
Another view...
  
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Approach from Saddleback Lake. The route is located on the left side of the south face. The first pitch starts just below the end of the descent gully. Seems like everyone has a different way to start the route, but all ways funnel into Pitch 2.
 1.   
1. Our rack for Myopia. It seems the standard recommendation is to bring lots of small nuts. We also found the small offset cams and a double set of totems to 0.75 was quite useful. Plus a few larger cams to #3.


Pitch 
1
~5.8. Up cracks and corners to base of Pitch 2. Our Pitch 1 seemed like a logical way to start the route.
2.    
3.   
2. This was the start of our Pitch 1. We never did identify the Pitch 1 start posted on mountainproject. This seemed to work quite well.
3. Higher up on Pitch 1.

Pitch 
2
5.10-. Up a crack, then either a 5.10- fingers on left or 5.9 chimney on right.
4.    
5.    

4. Start of Pitch 2,
5. You have 2 choices: climb the 5.10- finger crack on the left of 5.9 chimney on the right. We went with the finger crack.


Pitch 
3
5.11- (crux pitch). Left-facing corner system. Techy laybacking and crux 5.11- section.
6.    
7.    
 

6. Looking up Pitch 3.
7. The crux section. There was a fixed nut in the corner. Excellent lead Alex!!


Pitch 
4
5.10+. Stem up steep corner. Small gear and techy climbing.
8.    
9.   
8. Alex heading up Pitch 4. This pitch was sustained so overall seemed just as hard as the previous pitch,
9. An idea of how steep it is.


Pitch 
5
5.10. Continue up corner.
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11.    

10. Looking up Pitch 5.
11. Alex following Pitch 5. I was having too much fun and I went a bit higher than the standard belay at the end of Pitch 5.


Pitch 
6
5.10-. Switch cracks right, then back left into ramp/corner.
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13.    
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12. Starting up Pitch 6. Switch to right crack.
13. Higher on Pitch 6. Switch back to left.
14. Alex enjoying a comfortable belay at the top of Pitch 6.



Pitch 
7
5.9. Ramp to steep, juggy corner.
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15. Looking up Pitch 7.
16. Looking down start of Pitch 7.
17. Steep corner on second half of Pitch 7.

Pitch 
8
5.9. Gritty flaring corner to ledge.
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19.   
18. For Pitch 8, we went left. As you can see from the way the rope goes right first, we were a bit unsure of which way to go. I think left is probably the correct finish to Myopia, although right might work too.
19. Gritty flaring corner if you go left like we did. I think I enjoyed this pitch more than Alex did.

Pitch 
9
5.9. Pull right (and then back left) around the roof feature and then head up easier terrain to the top.
20.    
  

20. We finished the route by going right (and then back left) around the roof feature.
Top!
Yay!
21.    
21. Alex striking a summit pose.
Descent
Scramble down the ridge to the northeast, and then down the loose 3rd class gully along the east (climbers' right) side of the Perch. Make a single rappel at the end of the gully to get past the chockstone. From there, only minutes back to camp. Make sure to jump in the lake to cap off the day.
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22. Heading down the summit boulders.
23. Descent gully.
24. The single rappel to get over the chockstone at the base of the descent gully.
25. Shiny rap rings to climbers' left of the base of the descent gully.
26. Alex capping off a great day of climbing on the Perch.



THUNDERSHOWERS AND BAILING 3 TIMES ON THE SAME ROUTE - JULY 29
We were determined to climb, but the weather won in the end. I've never bailed three times on the same route ever, much less on the same day!
Photos:
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Photo descriptions:
1. Extra protein in the morning coffee. (The mosquitos were present, but not nearly as numerous as when I had been to the Perch in early July 2014.)
2. Looking up Pitch 1 of Astro Elephant.
3. 30 minutes later....Bail #1. Notice the wet rock.
4. 
Waiting under an overhang for the storm to pass.
5. After waiting about 1 hour at the base, the rock looked dry and the weather looked reasonable so I headed up to lead Pitch 1. 30 minutes later, it was raining...Bail #2.

6. The view from the tent.
7. After a few hours in the tent, we were getting a bit antsy and it had not rained in awhile. So we headed up for attempt #3 on Astro Elephant, planning to climb the first 4 pitches to the ledge and collect our bail anchor at the top of Pitch 1.
8. Pitch 2. Not raining yet.....
9. Higher up on Pitch 2.
10. Bail #3. Downpour (+ lightning this time) arrived just as we finished Pitch 2.
11. Dreary day at the Perch. 
12. Dreary day at the Perch. 
13. Watch out where you camp or you might end up in a pond.
14. I spent the rest of the day doing nonograms in the tent. 



CLIMB 2 - JULY 30
Climb Astro Elephant (IV, 5.10, 10 pitches).
Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
Located on center of south face, starting 100' above the chockstone in the descent gully. (~5.8 to climb left of chockstone).
1.    2   
3.      
  
  

1. To get to the base of Astro Elephant you have to do an approach pitch to get around the chockstone at the base of the descent gully. This feels about 5.8.
2. Morning sun on the peaks across the way (Chipmunk, Goat, and Eagle Perches).
3. Morning fog from all the moisture in the valley.

Pitch 
1
Sideline
5.10-. Corner and crack system just 15 feet right of the start of Astro Elephant.
4.   4. Pitch 1 of Sideline.


Pitch 
2
Sideline
5.10-. Crack system just right of tree on ledge.
5.   5. Pitch 2 of Sideline.
Pitch 
3
Sideline
5.8. Up flakes and crack and an A-shaped roof.
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7.    
  
 

6. Pitch 3 of Sideline.
7. Looking down Pitch 3 of Sideline. We actually did not climb Pitch 3 because we had to traverse left and lower to the top of Pitch 2 of Astro Elephant to collect our bail anchor from the previous day.

Pitch 
1
Astro Elephant
5.10-. Corner system. Burly.
8.   8. Pitch 1 of Astro Elephant. We climbed this pitch three times the previous day.


Pitch 
2
Astro Elephant
5.10-. Continue up the corner. 
 
9.    
10.   
9. Pitch 2 of Astro Elephant. We climbed this the previous day.
10. Higher up on Pitch 2 of Astro Elephant.

Pitch 
3
Astro Elephant
5.8. Up flakes and cracks.
11.    
11. Pitch 3 of Astro Elephant. I had to traverse into this pitch from the top of Pitch 2 of Sideline and lower down to collect our bail anchor at the top of Pitch 2 of Astro Elephant. I then proceeded to climb up the first part of Pitch 3 on toprope and then lead the remainder of Pitch 3 to the standard belay at the top of the pitch.


Pitch 
4
5.8. Head right to the left-facing crack/corner system and climb to ledge.
12.    
13.  
12. Starting off Pitch 4. Both Sideline and Astro Elephant share this final pitch to the ledge. 
13. A view out. The weather seems to be holding today!

Pitch 
5
5.8. Traverse left over the ledge, climbing through a wide corner and then a chimney on the way.
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15.   
14. Looking at Pitch 5.
15. The chimney.


Pitch 
6
low 5th. This pitch just moves the belay from the top of the chimney at the top of Pitch 5 to the left end of the ledge at the base of Pitch 7. We just linked Pitches 6&7.
See photos for Pitch 7.

Pitch 
7
5.9+. Starting from the left end of the ledge, climb up, traversing left when the terrain gets hard and making an airy step left over the arete. Belay on a ledge.
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16. Beta photo for Pitch 7. Apparently people are known to get off route here. But it's pretty easy to stay on route if you know what to expect.
17. Looking up Pitch 7.
18. Quartz pocket at the start of Pitch 7. This is how you know you are in the correct spot. Also, you can put a #4 here.
19. The final face section after stepping left around the arete. Alex is at the belay ledge. You could also belay a bit higher.
20. Photo taken by Alex of me on the final section of Pitch 7.
21. 
Panorama taken by Alex of the view.
22. Belay selfie. Photo by Alex.
Pitch 
8
5.8. Climb cracks and corners and up through a slot.
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25.   
23. Looking up start of Pitch 8.
24. Higher up on Pitch 8.
25. Looking down from top of  Pitch 8.
Pitch 
9
5.7. Climb through a horizontal crack, then up a crack to a ledge.
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27.    
28.    

26. Alex starting off Pitch 9. I think the ideal belay would be at the ledge below him in the photo.
27. Looking up Pitch 9.
28. Last half of Pitch 9.
Pitch 
10
5.9. Pull right (and then back left) around the roof feature and then head up easier terrain to the top.
29.     29. This is the same as the final pitch of Myopia. We went right (and then back left) around the roof feature in the photo.
Top!
Yay!
30.   30. Alex striking another summit pose.
Descent
Scramble down the ridge to the northeast, and then down the loose 3rd class gully along the east (climbers' right) side of the Perch. Make a single rappel at the end of the gully to get past the chockstone. From there, only minutes back to camp. Make sure to jump in the lake to cap off the day.
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31. Heading down the summit boulders.
32. The descent gully.
33. The single rappel to get over the chockstone at the base of the descent gully.
34. Shiny rap rings to climbers' left of the base of the descent gully.
35. A view of the Perch from Saddleback Lake. Alex is cooling off in the water.
36. We somehow could not find the same creek crossing on the way out (I'm sensing deja vu from my first trip to the Perch), and ended up crossing a bit higher upstream. It would have been helpful to have marked a GPS point at where we had crossed on the way in. I included a screenshot of the lower log crossing on my map at the start of this trip report.
37. We arrived back a the lake at 6pm. The last shuttle pickup at the end of the lake at 7pm. 
38. Much better than hiking 5 more miles.
39. It was a full load going back. Glad we fit on!