BOISE, Idaho — Six months after a major earthquake rattled Idaho, the rumbling has continued with a recent quake shaking near Stanley. Since March 31, the earthquakes have intrigued scientists and, in some cases, reshaped the landscape of the Sawtooth mountains near their epicenter.
The initial magnitude-6.5 quake and its aftershocks caused multiple avalanches in the Sawtooths, but many of the effects were masked by snow. As the weather warmed — and as strong quakes continued — more ramifications came to light: the ‘liquefaction’ of a popular beach at Stanley Lake, toppled rock climbing destinations, structural damage to lava tubes at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve and debris strewn over trails.
“The earthquakes and their effects on the Sawtooth skyline have been an interesting exclamation mark on an already surreal year,” said Ed Cannady, former backcountry manager for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, in an email.
He noted the loss of the Arrowhead and the Finger of Fate, two distinct peaks favored by rock climbers, in the March 31 earthquake, as well as Baron Spire, which collapsed in August. Video of Baron Spire crumbling and triggering a rockslide went viral online.
“As a climber, I can tell you it’s changed a decent amount of climbing in the Sawtooths,” Blake Bolton wrote in a Facebook comment on the Idaho Hiking and Backpacking page. “Another feature known as the Coffin is gone along with the Arrowhead, and the summit pitch on Warbonnet has changed as well. I’m sure there are other changes but that’s the extent of what I’ve seen so far.” Cannady said some of the changes have gone unnoticed because they didn’t affect any of the prominent peaks of the jagged Sawtooths.