Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Braxon Peak Climb

Dan and I decided to climb a peak in the Sawtooths. We decided on Braxon Peak, which noted author Tom Lopez states has the "best 360 degree view in Idaho". Plus it is accessed from Redfish Lake Creek, an area neither of us had visited before.

We were scheduled to meet at 6am, however Dan missed his alarm and we didn't get going until 6:45am. We drove up in Dan's new Chevy Equinox, a nice ride which included the XM Radio for our entertainment. On the way to Redfish Lake, Dan informed me that he recently suffered a broken rib playing basketball and was on painkillers. I was surprised to hear this and my concern about this news would later be validated!

We caught the Redfish Lake shuttle just after 9:30am. The boat ride across the lake was enjoyable with incredible scenery, however we were both surprised by the casual nature of the operation - no life jackets nor any other bureaucracy required! We paid our money and were immediately taken on the boat. After taking a few pictures on the shuttle, we were on the trail just before 10am. After a brisk hike up the trail, we followed John's instructions and started hiking uphill just before a small footbridge. From here the going got much steeper and eventually required navigating around various cliffs and other obstacles. As we got higher, Dan was feeling worse, getting dizzy from the exertion. We decided we would evaluate whether to continue at the lake just above 8900' elevation.

After some work we reached the lake at 8900'. We ended up deciding that Dan would stay at the lake while I finished the climb up Braxon Peak. My goal was to climb and descend the final 1400' in 2 hours. I headed uphill at a pretty brisk pace but ultimately was slowed by the terrain beneath the summit ridge. After two failed attempts over class 4 terrain, I finally found a class 3 route up to the summit ridge. From there it was a steep but straightforward climb to the summit. The views from the summit matched Tom Lopez's description - a complete panorama of Sawtooth peaks that was actually somewhat overwhelming to take in! Because of my compressed time line, I didn't spend too long on the summit - I caught my breath, rehydrated, took a few pictures, signed the register, and was soon heading down. The terrain, while a little loose on the ascent, provided the perfect terrain for descent and I was able to make pretty good time back to the lake basin where Dan was waiting. In the end I was 30 minutes late which made up for Dan missing his alarm in the morning!

Dan had a leisurely time at the lake, relaxing and even taking a brief swim. Once we met up again, we descended the boulder-strewn and cliffy terrain back to the trail. There was actually a good deal of route-finding required to get back down! Once on the trail, we moved briskly to attempt to catch the earliest possible shuttle back to our car. Arriving at the dock at 6:10pm, we ended up having to wait until 7pm for a shuttle to arrive. The return shuttle was totally full (12 people on the boat and 3 others left at the dock) and the driver had concerns that we were going to run out of gas. However we did make it back to the vehicle, where we enjoyed Alaskan Ambers (courtesy of Dan) before beginning the drive back to Boise.

The drive to Boise was highlighted by XM Radio surfing, including various comedy shows, grunge, hair metal, and freestyle rap. Before we knew it we were back in town and sadly forced to get ready to go to work on Monday...

Trip statistics: 8.55 miles, 4129' elevation gain, 8:16h

Braxon Peak Pictures!
GPS Track

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