Hike Photography

Summer in the Sawtooths 2013 – Abe’s Armchair

While reading the register at the Top of Abe’s Armchair Kyle establishes the Peak is not named after Lincoln – The President or the Froman – The Sausage King of Chicago.

The peak Abe’s Arm Chair is one of my favorites, and until this day, only from a viewing perspective.  Located at the south end of the Sawtooth Mountain Range, the peak does in fact look like a big arm chair – with a magnificent head rest.

Abe’s is a prominent peak in that it that it rises almost 3,000 vertical feet directly from the valley floor near the headwaters of the Salmon River (Lewis and Clark’s; River of No Return) and is virtually impossible to miss when heading south from Smiley Creek and up to the summit of Galena Pass.

I have spent 30 years wondering what the view at the top is like and today is my chance to find out.

The Sawtooth Mountains from Abe’s Arm Chair.

There is no official trail or well documented route to the top of Abe’s.  So Kyle and I plan that the effort to summit Abe’s Armchair will be a 100% off trail endeavor that encompasses a great deal of route finding.  What documentation we do find indicates the best ascent is the via east the ridge and starting at Sawmill creek and Sawmill Canyon.

Abe’s is known to be a great place to Skin to summit and ski off the top in winter.  However, this is weekend number two of the 2013 summer and high temperatures are forecast to be in the mid 90’s.  Scrambling to the top of a peak at approximately 10,000 feet in elevation in 90+ degree heat is not a lot of fun.  Therefore Kyle and I decided we will start our ascent in the early AM and attempt to beat the heat.

The place we decide to start our ascent is located just before the Sawmill Creek crossing on Smiley Creek Road.  This “trail-head” is 1.1 miles from the junction of Smiley Creek Road and Smiley Creek Cutoff Road.

Effectively the ascent to the summit turns out to be broken into one-thirds.

The lower third is in timber.  There is a faint trail on this portion.  The objective is to stay to the right (about 20-50 yards) of Sawmill Canyon Creek.  At about a mile into the hike the faint trail will completely fade away and it is best to head right and up through the timber.  Non connected Elk trails will assist in the ascent.

The middle third is open meadow.  Although steep, the footing is solid.  I suggest staying on a west northwest course until you hit a ridge-line with scattered trees.  I also suggest singing songs from the Sound of Music – despite what your partner likes or dislikes.

The last third is a rocky and grassy ridge-line with a scattering of trees until you are above the tree-line.  The last 1/4 mile is a mostly level ridge-line to the summit.

The top of Abe’s Armchair provided a wonderful 360 degree view of Galena Summit, The Boulder Mountains, The White Cloud Mountains and best of all the Sawtooths to the north.


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