BETA PHOTO: Looking up at the Perch from the approach trail.
From a climberís perspective, the Elephantís Perch is possibly Idahoís best piece of stone. Not just because of the quality lines and solid granite though, itís the whole experience.
You start with a nice, 5-mile boat ride across Redfish Lake. As the miles pass on the water, youíll be glad you paid the $10 for the ride. From the far end of the lake itís a steep and pristine, 3-mile hike to the camping below the Perch. If youíre out of shape, you will know it in the last mile.
It would be difficult to overstate the beauty of this camp. Youíre between the lip of the hanging valley and the first of the Saddleback Lakes, with the Elephant's Perch on one side and the multi-towered massif of the Goatís Perch on the other. Great stuff by any standard. Trout live in the Saddleback Lakes so get a license and pack a rod if you will be taking any rest days.
The Perch itself is a photogenic, golden granite with vertical fractures covering its flanks. It soars roughly 1000 feet for much of its width and hosts around 30 routes. You wonít find many fixed anchors, so be prepared to build your own. The rock quality is excellent, but loose rock does exist, especially on the less-traveled routes.
The easiest and most popular route on the Perch is the 5.9 Mountaineerís Route. Other popular classics include The Direct Beckey, Astro-Elephant, the Sunrise Book, and Myopia.
To descend there are two options:
1. Descend the gully to the climberís right of the Perch. This involves some loose rock and some rappelling.
2. When you top out, go to climber's left and work your way down and left around the bulk of the Perch to eventually meet up with the trail you took to the base. This involves some short downclimbs and may require some scouting around if itís your first time.
Take the boat across (or hike around) Redfish Lake and begin hiking up the main drainage. Youíre heading for the second drainage on the left after the Grand Mogul.
After roughly 2 miles, you leave the main trail and follow a smaller trail up to the base of the Perch. It can be hard to spot the trail junction where you leave the main trail so be alert. You will cross two foot-bridges close to one another and then another one a little farther up the trail. After the third bridge, look for the creek on the left. You want to leave the main trail at its point nearest the creek. You should cross the creek (on logs) within a couple rope lengths of leaving the main trail.
This trail becomes easy to follow after crossing the creek and leads up and right into the valley below the Perch.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Elephant's Perch:
The original line of the Beckey route, starting up what is now p1 of Fine Line, and then going up a hard stemming pitch to join what is now the Direct Beckey. Most people do the Direct Beckey or Fine Line instead.FFA(pitch one): Greg Lowe, Jeff Lowe, 1972FFA(entire route): Reid Dowdle, Paul Potters, 1985 or 1986...[more]Browse More Classics in ID
This is without a doubt one of the prime alpine areas in the country. My time there was limited so my partner and I only climbed the Beckey Direct, but this climb alone is well worth the trip up there. There are also many stellar boulders scattered about in the trees below the Perch. We started climbing on them and were blown away by the quantity and quality of problems.
My last trip to the Perch was, as always, amazing except for the climbers and their trash. A group of dread-headed posers wearing typical 'modern-hippie' shirts tented up proximate to the trail. They had an obnoxious dog that loved to bark AND bite. "Relax, man, our dog is chill" as it whipped is chain leash to reach it's assumed target (my leg!). What a bunch of douche-bags. Maybe they climbed hard. Anyways...
Just be courteous to fellow users of the Sawtooths -- don't be an asshole, people. This place, more importantly than an austerely beautiful cliff, is a even more beautiful mountain range. Respect it. Know the rules!
When I was there last, trash was scattered about: beer cans, wrappers, and human shit and tp poorly covered by rocks. Climbers have a reputation among the land management agencies that is similar to that of Boy Scouts -- bad! I have family who work in the USFS in the Sawtooths. They tell me these things.
Just because climb the Perch doesn't mean you own the place. Feel free to dirty your carpet or leave beer out at your place, but in the Sawtooths you're a GUEST. This place is a palace. Treat it like one. Let's leave it pristine and clean for future climbers and patrons to enjoy.
I pulled a 'fixed' nut and whipped (past my belayer) on the 12a corner of sunrise book this week. Kinda got scared since that belay sucks- small nuts behind a flake, and bailed off a green camalot and a grey c4. They are there if you want them.
The Elephant's Perch is not to be missed. This amazing cirque is great for both climbers and non-climbers, so bring your non-climber friends for some excellent alpine backpacking, fishing and beautiful scenery as you climb.
Two things to note: 1) the right side of the wall (astro elephant, etc) gets sun much earlier than the left side of the wall and can get really hot. 2) when descending the gully and eventually reaching the chock-boulder, go out left to the tree on the other formation. Single 60 rap to the ground. Don't bother downclimbing around the boulder.
FYI: the boat ride is $16 bucks round trip, or $10 one way. It leaves the Redfish Lodge Marina anytime as long as you have 2 people. It picks up from the inlet at 9,11,1,3,5,7 at the dock you get dropped off at, or anytime someone else is being dropped off.