Forum Index > Trip Reports > Thompson Peak (elevation 10,751), Idaho Sawtooth Range. 3/22/2020
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Bluebird
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 6:09 pm 
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Jake and I are quarantine-buddies in the Sun Valley area and neither of us have climbed many peaks in the area. He researched and found that the route to the high point of the Sawtooth Range, Thompson Peak seemed a possible winter-ish ascent so we decided to go for it on last Sunday, a beautiful sunny day.

We left the car a little after 6am near ID HWY 75 as the access road to Redfish Lake is snowed in still. It was a chilly 14f at the TH. It didn't take long to hike the icy compact snowy road 1.8 miles to the trailhead and we were pleased to find a packed skin track on the trail. At the junction with the Alpine Way trail access, the packed skin trail disappeared and we booted up the mostly packed/icy snow until we found a packed skin trail along the ridge. At this point, we had been postholing at times so we snowshoed up and continued along the ridge. Sunrise was beautiful and the mountains lit up.
Morning alpenglow
Morning alpenglow

We continued on the skin track, which was pretty close to the trail route until just above 8,000 elevation, when the trail route curves north. We then had a fairly unpleasant sidehill traverse, which we crampon/axed for about .3 miles.
The sidehill traverse
The sidehill traverse
Thompson Peak lies beyond
Thompson Peak lies beyond

We then followed more pleasant terrain north/above a lake that is unnamed on CalTopo at approximately 9,000 elevation and then west to a saddle between Thompson and Williams, approximately 9800 elevation. There was one skier on the final slope to the saddle. As this was potential avalanche terrain, we waited for the skier and then went one at a time across the slope. (note: avalanche danger was low)
Thompson Peak
Thompson Peak
Crossing the avy slope to the Thompson/Williams saddle
Crossing the avy slope to the Thompson/Williams saddle
Williams Peak
Williams Peak

Route then curves around the backside of Thompson until to the saddle between Mickey's Spire and Thompson.
The basin north of Thompson. Thin snow and lots of postholing in here.
The basin north of Thompson. Thin snow and lots of postholing in here.
The summit of Thompson. SW Gully left-center in this photo.
The summit of Thompson. SW Gully left-center in this photo.

We traded snowshoes and poles for crampons and axes. We took what we had hoped would be a nicely filled in snow gully to the summit... but instead there was some fairly heinous postholing up to the waist and crampon/rock/snow scrambling.
Starting up the gully
Starting up the gully
Summit views
Summit views

Jake made a lot of horrible sounds. I eventually caught up to him at the summit after some snowy class 3 in crampons before reaching the exposed summit.

On the summit
On the summit

The summit has some dramatic cliffs/dropoffs. Sweet views here!

Summit
Summit
Looking SE toward ID-75
Looking SE toward ID-75
Downclimbing the summit block. Snowy class 3 in crampons.
Downclimbing the summit block. Snowy class 3 in crampons.
Looking down the gully from the top
Looking down the gully from the top
At the bottom of the gully
At the bottom of the gully
Some crazy skiers skied this gully. See the tracks?
Some crazy skiers skied this gully. See the tracks?
More ski tracks in this couloir
More ski tracks in this couloir
Looking back to Thompson on the descent
Looking back to Thompson on the descent
Thompson E basin pano
Thompson E basin pano

On the way down the snow was quite slushy so it was more work than a standard descent. We tried to avoid the annoying traverse, which we expected would be a nasty slush-posthole with a crappy runout, by dropping down, but this required some more elevation gain. Maybe it was worth it? We reached the trail route and had another 5 miles to snowshoe out. The final 1.8 miles, as per usual, seemed longer than that. Maybe it's because it was slightly uphill.

Social Distancing: saw one skiier and a family of 3 on the road out. Only party at the summit to sign in since September. Overall, low density of people.
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Gimpilator
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 6:34 pm 
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How wonderful to get that peak in March!  I was especially excited to get those photos from Jake when you were on the summit.  Thanks, and congratulations!

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raising3hikers
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 6:38 pm 
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Appreciate the TR, for a cool and big out of state peak

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Eric Eames
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awilsondc
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 6:39 pm 
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Kick ass trip you two!  I loved that area when I climbed Williams, the view of Thompson as you climb up into that basin is enchanting.  I really feel old when I realize I climbed those peaks over 15 years ago.  Where does the time go... Hope you get the chance to bag some more peaks while you're out there.  Oh, love the hero shot on the summit.   up.gif  up.gif
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puzzlr
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 7:22 pm 
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Wonderfully clear photos! Those skier's tracks were  eek.gif

Thanks for the report.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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Bosterson
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 10:25 pm 
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Awesome! I did Thompson in summer a few years back, great to see it in winter/early spring conditions. I'll bet the snow made some of those rockfield bits on the backside of the peak easier. Did you find the Mazamas register up top? (Probably buried...)

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We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
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Jake Robinson
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 6:46 am 
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Yep, we found the Mazamas box (not on the true summit btw). It was frozen shut but we managed to get it open eventually.
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neek
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 7:07 am 
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Idaho has some great mountains far from civilization.  Had to bail on my ill conceived plans for Thompson last year.  Thanks for posting.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 12:51 pm 
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Bluebird wrote:
Jake made a lot of horrible sounds.

Hilarious!

Regarding those tracks in the couloir,  I thought of Cody Townsend and The Fifty Project, but  Thompson is not on the  list.  Probably not enough vert.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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MangyMarmot
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 4:12 pm 
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Awesome trip. Looks like you had a great day.
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Bluebird
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PostWed Mar 25, 2020 10:26 am 
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Thank you for the comments everyone! It was a great trip  biggrin.gif
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Thompson Peak (elevation 10,751), Idaho Sawtooth Range. 3/22/2020
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