Perfect Peak


A perfect trip up Perfect Peak- then an imperfect descent

I had spent hours poring over maps, trip reports (rare) and pictures I had taken from various positions and angles. After a lot of consideration, I was reasonably certain this route would go. But I wanted a partner- so when my rope gun, Tom, was finally available, we went for it. Then my brother, also Tom, joined us. Cool!

We got a later start out of Boise, so we weren't walking until 10 from the Alturas Lake trailhead. I had walked this trail with my daughter, Jazz, on a backpack trip we did last fall, so I knew what to expect for the first few miles.

approach trail

We followed the trail to its end, then swung right on the fisherman's trail that takes you to the northern basin of the Alpine Creek Lakes. At about 8150', we left the trail and started our way up the ridge. We hadn't been walking too long before we ran into some cliff bands... which gave me pause. But then we got a view of our objective, on the right. This just might work!

First view

We seemed to hit the ridge just right. It was steep and there was some scrambling, rolling rocks, and all the standard Sawtooth fun. Then the ridge moderates and the last few hundred feet go pretty easily, navigating through the sandy scree from goat bed to goat bed. One of the Toms is wearing red in this picture- click for a larger version.

Upper ridge

Once we gained the ridge top, the views were amazing. The awesome weather was an obvious help- we were in T-shirts as long as we were moving.

From here, we slipped over the notch on the left to join the "normal" route that comes from Alice Lake.

No, can't see the summit yet.

Top of the ridge

Some of these pictures are from the way down, to keep the narrative.

This is looking down at the notch we came through, with tons of loose rock- and I mean tons- to traverse. The normal route comes in from the left here.


Finally, you can see the summit just left of center.

We rounded the ridge to the west and popped through another notch, with this view of the summit. We dropped down a bit into this, the top of another very steep gully with very loose rock. We found it nicer to stay above the loose stuff and traverse the ledges. But the ledge that Tom is on isn't really that exposed.

The route climbs up the notch to the right of the summit.

Traverse to summit

This is what the actual climb looks like. It's about 15 feet on easy, blocky rock. But check your handholds because it seemed to all be a little loose.

Up the wall
Once you're in the notch, you get a very airy feeling. Especially since there was a little snow here and there. But the last 15 feet to the summit is just scrambling. The exposure isn't bad, but the bad exposure is only a couple of feet away. Slot between summits

Summit shot.

2:55 from the car.

Again with the astounding views. That's Snowyside between our heads on the horizon.


And Alpine Lakes Creek basin.

If you checked out the previous trip report link and your brain is way bigger than mine, you've already figured out that the obvious lake low in the frame is Lake 8523 where Jazz and I camped.

Sorry for the bad framing of the pic, but it was crowded on the small summit and I held the camera above my head with one hand to get this.

Alpine Creek Lakes

And this is Alice Lake, which Julie, Jazz, and I visited on a backpack trip earlier this summer, as shown in this trip report.

That's Parks Peak on the left of center, and El Capitan on the right. Imogene Peak on the left-most.

Alpine Creek Lakes

The second objective of the day, Peak 9997. I wanted to try the ridge walk from here to there (see map below). Partly because I had never looked down into the Cabin Creek drainage.

But as we found out, it's not a walk. It was more technical than our climb up Perfect. We made it all the way out to the low point of the ridge, then bailed due to lack of enthusiasm among my crew. sigh

Thanks to my detour out the ridge, it took us much longer to return than it did to climb. I'm guessing we could have round-tripped Perfect in 5 1/2 hours, but we ended up taking 7. Don't try this ridge unless you're up for a really horrendous, cliffy, and loose descent gully. And that's if you're lucky and pick one that doesn't end in a cliff.

Ridge walk

Map of our proposed route. We went clockwise, and the part to do Perfect is reasonably accurate. We dropped off the ridge at the low point, which isn't marked. We also had to change drainages on our descent (twice) to avoid cliffs (as you might guess from the topo). Not recommended.

Well, at least the Toms were still talking to me when we got to the trail.

Perfect map
Here is a picture of our route from a day in 2009, way up the Alpine Creek drainage on our way to Mattingly Peak. Perfect map

Mr. Natural Home | 2008 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski