Ascent of Sawtooth Peak on 2009-09-01

Climber: Jose Valdez

Date:Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sawtooth Peak
    Elevation:12343 ft / 3762 m

Ascent Trip Report

I started solo from the Sawtooth trailhead in Mineral King around 3PM, August 31, 2009, and arrived at the lower Monarch lake around 6:30 pm. I pitch my tent on the north side of the lake. This was my first time in this area of the park and I was surprised to be the only one at the lake. The moon was bright and it lit up the granite like daylight and I did not have to use my headlamp. There were several deer browsing around throughout the night and their hooves were noisy from prancing on the granite. They kept me company until the moon went down around 4 AM. I was surprised how quiet this area was due to having no wind and the temperature was rather pleasant throughout the night for 10,300 ft.
I started my climb around 8 AM on September 1,2009. I took the route the park ranger recommended to me when I applied for my permit. The ranger told me to avoid the trail that most people take leading north from the lake. This trail is very steep and very difficult which consists mostly of decomposed granite. So I took the path he recommended on the west side of the drainage across from the difficult decomposed granite trail on the east. This western path was easy and tied into an old, unmaintained trail that headed north into the direction of Glacier Pass. I arrived at Glacier Pass in about 45 minutes from Monarch Lake. I was surprised how quickly I made it to the pass. Then I contoured from Glacier Pass to the direction of Sawtooth Pass. I tied into the Sawtooth trail above the switch backs that lead down to the difficult section the park Ranger told me to avoid. I didn't realize this until I descended down this difficult section later on. I arrived at Sawtooth Pass just before 10 AM. I observed two hikers making their way up from Columbine lake. I enjoyed the magnificent view for about 5 minutes and then headed up to Sawtooth Peak.
I followed the foot tracks and the cairns that contoured from the pass to the southeast ridgeline of the peak. After reaching the southeast ridge line, I scrambled up, over, and around the granite boulders and arrived at the register around 11:45 AM. I enjoyed the spectacular view in all directions and had lunch. I started back down around 12:30 PM.
During the descent, I followed my tracks back to the Sawtooth trail and down the difficult section the park ranger told me to avoid during my ascent. I think I would have became discouraged and turned back if I had tried climbing this difficult section. I arrived at Monarch Lake around 2 PM. I broke camp around 4:30 PM and I arrived at the trailhead around 7PM.
Overall this was a very good solo hike. The only bad part of the trip was losing my Nikon Coolpix P60 camera on the trail somewhere between Monarch Lake and the trailhead. My camera had photos from my trip in August to Mt. Rainier and Crater Lake.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4503 ft / 1372 m
    Route:Sawtooth Trail
    Trailhead:Sawtooth Trail Head Mineral King  7840 ft / 2389 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Warm and dry, summer conditions.

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