Climbing McGown Peak in Idaho’s Sawtooths

By Michael Lanza

Early on a sunny but freezing October morning, my friend Chip Roser and I set out from the trailhead at Stanley Lake, in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, hiking in the direction of the peak that forms the picturesque backdrop to the lake: 9,860-foot McGown Peak—not only one of the most-photographed peaks in the Sawtooths, but one of the most exciting, one-day hike-scrambles in the entire range.

After more than an hour of hiking, we left the established trail and hiked cross-country into a cirque on McGown’s south side, where glassy alpine lakes reflected the rows of toothy, stone pinnacles above us. From there, the hike gets steep: We scrambled a rocky rib on McGown’s south face, ascending 1,200 feet in less than a mile to the knife-edge summit ridge, where I shot this photo of Chip minutes before we reached the tiny summit.

I’ll write about that adventure in a story I’ll post later this year at this blog. For now, you can view a menu of all of my stories about Idaho’s Sawtooths at The Big Outside, including this photo gallery from the Sawtooth Wilderness; this story about Chip and I climbing another prominent Sawtooths peak, Mount Heyburn; my story “Going After Goals: Backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains;” and an Ask Me post where I answer a reader’s question: What are the best hikes in Idaho’s Sawtooths? And click here for a menu of all of my stories about hiking at The Big Outside.



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