Thompson Peak
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Base Camp

  • Statistics:
    • Date Hiked:  July 6, 2002
    • Miles Hiked:  12.0
    • Elevation Gain:  4,200'
    • Hiking Partner(s):  Bruce Eames
  • Description:
    • I finally got my first serious hike in of the season.  Thompson Peak is the tallest mountain in the Sawtooth Mountains at 10,751',  It is located just southwest of Stanley, ID and west of Redfish Lake.  It can be seen easily from Highway 21 along side of Williams Peak.
    • I picked Bruce up Saturday morning and we left Boise at 5:30 am.  We stopped at the scenic overlook north of Stanley for a quick breakfast and were on the trail at 9:00 am.  We parked at the trailhead parking lot at Redfish Lake and started west on the Fishhook Creek Trail for about .8 miles.  From here you take a short trail north to the top of a ridge for about .5 miles and then head back west on the Alpine Way Trail towards the Sawtooths and Marshall Lake.  The elevation gain to this point is very nominal until you have to jump off the beaten path and bushwack to a no named lake at 9,000'.
    • The off trail hiking is actually easier than one would first think because of the existence of an unofficial trail blazed by previous hikers.  As mentioned above, you leave the established trail before passing the east ridge of Williams Peak around 3.7 miles.  From here, you follow the "game trail" to a hidden oasis where a large grove of trees stands.  After this, it is only about three quarters of a mile to lake 9,000' where we set up camp.
    • The views throughout the first leg of our hike were incredible.  You looked out over thick forests, lush meadows, and running water falls.  After reaching the lake and finding a camp site, we spent the afternoon and evening scrambling around the rocks and enjoying the scenery.  I had a rough evening as I spilled my dinner and popped a hole in my Therma-rest, but for the most part, we couldn't complain.
    • As the evening came to a close, the rain started to fall.  We went to bed relatively early in order to prepare for our ascent of Thompson Peak the next morning.  As the night wore on, our hope of a climb to the summit dwindled.  The rain, wind, and even a bit of hail seemed relentless.  My tent held up well through the night as our sleep was fitful at best.  We listened to the wind howl down the mountains at us with the rain popping away on the top of the tent.  Both of us felt as though the morning would come to gray skies and wet rocks to climb which would certainly send us home without an opportunity to make it to the summit.
    • We awoke around 5:00, had a bit of breakfast and decided to try and make it as far as we could.  We hiked around the north side of the lake and back to the west towards a saddle between Thompson and Williams.  The only sketchy section of this portion of the hike involved crossing a steep snowfield above a smaller lake right before the saddle.  We successfully negotiated the snow and found ourselves looking to the west at beautiful mountains and directly up (to the south) at a daunting Thompson Peak.
    • The weather was holding, so we continued south up the north ridge of Thompson.  We caught glimpses of a trail here and there from other hikers, but you basically had to pick your way through the rock which wasn't always very stable.  After reaching a point where Thompson became a vertical climb, we circled around the west side and approached the summit from the south.  We climbed up a narrow gulley to a notch in the mountain where we finally saw the lake to the east and the summit a short distance to the north.
    • We made it to the summit where we snapped several photos and celebrated our climb.  We were the 10th party to summit in 2002.  We made a quick entry into the log book about the Becky's (both of our wives names are Becky) which is bolted to the top of the peak, and then started our descent as we were unsure of the weather.  The summit was reached at 8:45 am and we spent approximately 10 minutes on the top enjoying the views before heading down.
    • We broke camp and left back for the trailhead at 10:30.  We were back by 12:30 on the road for Boise.  This was a very exceptional hike and I would definitely recommend it to anyone heading into the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.  I may even return to climb Williams Peak or others in the area.
  • Maps:
    • Click here to view a 2D map of the area where this hike is located.
  • Photographs:





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