What I love the most about my job is discovering new places, getting to climb on rock faces I have never been on, and hanging out with people—clients, new and regular, guides, and anyone along the way. There isn’t much routine in my life, and the constant novelty of it all is what keeps it so enticing to me.
This past week was no exception to this reality. Erik Leidecker—a fellow First Ascent guide—invited Adam and me to be guest guides for a corporate event he was putting together. Neither Adam nor I had ever been to Idaho’s Sawtooth Range, but we both have wanted to climb on the Elephant’s Perch for a long time. The Sun Valley area is also quite the hub for First Ascent guides, since a lot of them live or own a place there. I was all the more excited for the opportunity to check it out.
This corporate event offered a really full program, with climbing the Super Slabs the first day, rafting the second day and a competitive/prize-winning orienteering course the third day. We had a beautiful camp set up on the Redfish Lake Inlet beach—a boat ride away from the Redfish Lodge—with a caterer who made any 5-star restaurant taste bland in comparison. A lot of organization went into making this event as good as it was. Guiding is one thing, but putting together a high-end trip like this one is a whole other ball game, and it was great to see Erik Leidecker manage it all so smoothly.
The event was moved back by a day at the last minute, which played out in our favor since Adam and I then had a day to spare before I flew out to California from Twin Falls. After seeing the clients out and the usual guide’s debrief at the end of the trip around a classic burger, we headed back to the Redfish Inlet on a boat to climb on the world-class rock of the Elephant’s Perch. We debated whether to camp on the beach or at the base of the “Perch,” a two-hour hike in from the inlet. Neither of us minded getting up early and adding a two-hour hike to our climb, which would have meant not carrying in our camping gear to a higher camp. Yet, with a few hours until dusk, we decided to load our packs and head on up to camp by Saddleback Lake, a 15-minute walk from the start of our route.
It’s so beautiful to hike through the woods at that time of year, when all the leaves are bright red, orange, yellow and green. We arrived in time to pitch our tent and eat, watching the sun setting on the Elephant’s Perch, before heading to bed. Although I love the comfort of European huts, it had been a while since we had camped out to do a climb and it is so much a part of the American experience of climbing in the mountains. Climbing “The Perch” wouldn’t have been the same without the hike in and camp out at the base of the wall.
We woke up early and were surprised at how warm it was for this time of year. Our first day in the Sawtooth, we had woken up to a fully frosted windshield and biting cold on my bare legs, so the nice temperatures at the base of the climb were quite a welcome surprise. After a quick bite and some green tea (a must for me), we headed across logs to the base of our climb: “The Fine Line,” a 10-pitch 5.11 route on the right-hand side of the wall, which Erik Leidecker had recommended for us. The Fine Line is a very natural right angling line that splits the whole face. Some people say that the start is more 5.11+ than 5.11a, but Adam made it look smooth! (Smoother than I did, that’s for sure!). Being 4.5-months pregnant, I have decided to no longer lead at my limit and Adam therefore led the whole route. I was blown away by the quality of this orange granite, the purity of the line and the quality and diversity of every pitch along the way. A real jewel!
This was the perfect combination of work and play, and discovering yet another new guiding/climbing location was the best way to end our guiding season. I am now flying to my next adventure: road biking in California.
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