John misspent his youth at Table Rock, Slick Rock, and the Sawtooths where he focused on rock climbing. In the early 70s, there were no guidebooks and in some cases no maps, so there were as many misadventures as successful climbs. This honed his ability to find the hard way up easy peaks and the wrong way to the trailhead. Since then, John has occasionally been distracted by other pursuits, but has always returned to the mountains. He is a skier as well a as climber, so enjoys the mountains in the “off season.” He is also a family man, so enjoys climbing and skiing with his wife and two daughters. Although these days he mostly does hiking or scrambling-type peaks, he still gets out the rope occasionally.
Since moving to McCall John has extensively explored the areas many known and unknown peaks. His many contributions state wide can be found through out this website. Use the following link: John Platt Contributions
John has also shared some of this early Sawtooth climbing memories.
Sawtooth memories by John Platt
We started climbing in the Sawtooths around 1971. Our group of high school kids (!) had been practicing rudimentary climbing technique at Table Rock near Boise, using goldline rope provided by Jerry’s parents after they found out that he had climbed the Finger of Fate without one. We had a handful of pitons, and we were climbing in Norwegian-welted mountain boots. And one ancient ice axe, about 90cm long. We thankfully adopted new gear as it became available.
Our first outing as a group tried to follow Jerry’s previous line up the Finger. Although we turned around without a summit yet still it was too dark to return to camp that night, we lived through that one, and progressed to visit many areas in the range.
In those early days, we mostly tried to climb things that others told us about: “Go up this trail, over this saddle, then follow the ridge to the obvious chimney.” With nothing available better than a Forest Service map, we tried to interpret these cryptic instructions on the ground. If more information existed, we were blissfully unaware of it.
So most of the time, we simply followed our noses. No map, no compass, no GPS. In some cases this worked out well, in others not so much. In hindsight, I remember climbing the wrong pinnacle on Heyburn; getting off route,and consequently shut out, on the Perch; and some off-color exclamations one afternoon when a hard-earned view from a summit revealed that our goal, Warbonnet, was on the opposite side of the valley.
Our misunderstandings added to the fun. Some of it was simple spelling: is it McGowan or McGown? With others, it was location: despite what one heard, Warbonnet is NOT above Baron Lake (that’s Baron Spire). And it was confusing to find out that two peaks were actually one: Old Smoothie is also (or more recently) Baron Spire.
As our group got older and out of high school, we dispersed, and sometimes climbed with others outside our group. Jerry worked for Outward Bound when they had a Sawtooth section, exploring more remote areas of the range including climbing the South Raker. Art and Frank climbed the ‘chimney’ on the face of Thomson, finding that not all Sawtooth granite is suitable for climbing. I followed Tom up harder lines, such as the Arrowhead. Tom was the strongest climber of our group, eventually joining up with other top Boise climbers and making it up all sorts of hard routes.
As a group and separately, we went into the Sawtooths in all seasons, and loved the range for hard rock, backpacking, scrambling, and even skiing. And we keep going back. From more recent explorations, I have found that there are lots of places in the range that are virtually untouched, if not totally unexplored.