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Jamin Smitchger
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PostSun May 13, 2007 10:11 pm 
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When my employer informed me that I could have Friday and Saturday off, I quickly thought about the Wallowas. The Wallowas are a large mountain range in northeastern Oregon, and they contain peaks in the near 10,000 range. My goal was to climb the highest peaks in this range, which are Matterhorn (9826) and Sacajawea (9838).

The drive to the Wallowas was uneventful. In the small town of Enterprise I discovered that Oregon does not have self serve gas stations.
at Anatone
at Anatone
Joseph, Oregon
Joseph, Oregon
Grande Ronde 2
Grande Ronde 2
Grande Ronde
Grande Ronde

I had expected snow to begin at the trailhead at 4600 feet, but I was pleasantly surprised that the snow line on the surrounding mountains appeared to be up at the 6000-7000 foot level. Starting out from the Wallowa Lake trailhead at noon, I was able to reach Ice Lake at 5:00. Snow started covering the trail at 6800 and the trail was hard to follow past 7200 feet due to increasing snowpack. After following the meandering trail for a while, I merely headed up through the sparse forest toward the lake. On the way to the lake I admired a steep section of snow on the east peak of Craig Mountain. It will probably be melted off by the time I have time to climb it, but I would like to try it sometime next year. 
falls in Adams Creek
falls in Adams Creek
east summit of Craig Peak
east summit of Craig Peak

At the lake I took a quick break and decided to camp at the base of the approach gully to Matterhorn. The ice on the lake looked solid so I walked out on it and plunged a few test holes with the shaft of my ice axe. About a foot to eighteen inches beneath the surface was a very hard layer of ice that my ice axe shaft could not penetrate. I decided that the ice was safe, and I was beginning to make good progress toward the other end of the lake when I broke through the thin surface layer into about 12-18 inches of slush and water. My boots were soaked instantly, but the hard layer below the surface stopped me from going into the lake. This was a strange phenomenon that I have not seen before. It seemed like there were two crusts with about 12-18 inches of water between them. I have walked across many lakes in the cascades in May, but I have never had this happen. 

After I walked back to the shore and traversed to the other end of the lake, I set up camp and was in bed at about 6:00. 
Camp
Camp

Strangely, I was completely exhausted and I fell asleep quickly. After an initial period of rest, I tossed and turned most of the night, and eventually I fell asleep at about 2:30am. At 5:30 I woke up in a panic. I had planned to get up much earlier. The sun was already beginning to warm the snow, and I dreaded that I would be postholing through slushy snow all the way to the summit of Matterhorn. When I started up the approach gully to Matterhorn,  I sank up to my knees in many places, but in general I only sank a bit past my ankles.   
Matterhorn
Matterhorn

Matterhorn is a class 2-3 summit. There is a trail to the summit during the summer and it is an easy hike from Ice Lake. However, the west and east faces of Matterhorn have some incredible granite and marble faces that seem to be pretty solid. The Wallowas are formed with granite and sedimentary rock. In many places the rock is completely solid in one area while a few hundred feet away there is crumbling scree fields.

The summit of Matterhorn offers some very good views down 3200 feet into the Hurricane Creek Valley. Unfortunately the register was soaked, but some of the writing was still legible. After taking a break on top of Matterhorn, I felt more energetic and I decided to try Sacajawea Peak.
Hurricane Creek Valley
Hurricane Creek Valley
View from Matterhorn
View from Matterhorn
Vast snowy ranges
Vast snowy ranges
What is unique about the packaging?
What is unique about the packaging?
Vast snowy ranges 2
Vast snowy ranges 2

Sacajawea Peak is the highest point in the Wallowas. There has been some controversy as to whether Sacajawea Peak or Matterhorn is the highest point, and early maps listed Matterhorn at 10,004 feet. However, it is now generally accepted that Sacajawea Peak is higher by a whopping 12 feet, but who really cares. 

According to summitpost, the traverse from Matterhorn to Sacajawea is class 4, but I decided to try it anyways. After traversing below point 9775, I took a good look at the ridge to Sacajawea. It definitely looked about class 4, and because I was wearing plastics, I decided to try to traverse below the ridge and up a steep snow slope and scree field to the summit. A short glissade down to the headwaters of Thorp Creek and an ascent of the snow slope brought me to the summit of Sacagawea. It was a frigid, cold wasteland where there was no sign of life.
Vast snowy ranges 4
Vast snowy ranges 4
Vast Snowy Ranges 3
Vast Snowy Ranges 3
Hurwal Divide
Hurwal Divide

After staying up at the summit a few minutes, I started the glissade down, and I promptly triggered a small slide. I quickly dug my axe into a hard layer below the slushy surface and came to a stop while the snow continued down to the bottom of the slope. This small micro avalanche did not resemble its larger cousins, which bury entire rope teams on occasion, so I started another glissade and rode down with the snow to the bottom of the slope. It was intensely fun. A short climb up the ridge leading to Hurwal Divide, another small slide, and a few glissades brought me back to Ice Lake.
Slide
Slide
Descent and ascent route with small slide shown
Descent and ascent route with small slide shown

The trip down the mountain was uneventful. I found about 5-6 ticks on me during one break, but none managed to suck my blood. I did not see a fellow human on the entire trip. 
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EastKing
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PostSun May 13, 2007 11:41 pm 
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Great trip report. The Wallowas look like a great group of mountains with great scrambles and climbs. Good job knocking off those ticks.

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I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.

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Justus S.
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PostMon May 14, 2007 12:22 am 
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Puffy wrapper confused.gif.

Excellent Job  up.gif  up.gif
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gyngve
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PostMon May 14, 2007 12:30 am 
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Nice report!
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Tazz
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PostMon May 14, 2007 12:38 am 
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Yes good report! I love the Wallowas. been on Matterhorn 2 xs now and will never tire of it. What great peak with that unique rock!! Good work on the ridge to Sacajawea. In summer it is much more sketch... Good stuff  thanks.
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wildernessed
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PostMon May 14, 2007 7:49 am 
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up.gif Nice trip, TR, and pics. The views from up there are great !
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Quark
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PostMon May 14, 2007 8:11 am 
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42 grams is not 1.5 ounces, it's 1.48.  confused.gif

Jamin, the Grande Ronde 2 photo are pictures of dikes !  - the solidified remains of feeder tubes through which the basalt flows spewed basalt that covered Central Washington and oregon.

Nice TR.  Anatone - is that the town south of Asotin on the flat part?  Godawful town, Anatone.  Neat sign, though.

Great driving roads though, no?

I've been interested in the Wallowas and 7 Devils the last few years.  Gotta go.

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"...Other than that, the post was more or less accurate."

Bernardo, NW Hikers' Bureau Chief of Reporting
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Slide Alder Slayer
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PostMon May 14, 2007 9:13 am 
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Great trip report and pictures!
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gyngve
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PostMon May 14, 2007 9:18 am 
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Quark wrote:
42 grams is not 1.5 ounces, it's 1.48.  confused.gif

From the engineering point of view, 42g is 1.5oz, and 42.0g is 1.48oz.   moon.gif
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Quark
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PostMon May 14, 2007 9:23 am 
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O.  Well, from the point of view of an English major who googled it, I thought I had the answer.  embarassedlaugh.gif

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"...Other than that, the post was more or less accurate."

Bernardo, NW Hikers' Bureau Chief of Reporting
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Spotly
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PostMon May 14, 2007 2:10 pm 
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Looks like you hit it the right time of year. Some pretty nice shots!
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The Guy From Bend
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PostMon May 14, 2007 4:27 pm 
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Reflective "Take 5?"

Also, pretzels and chocolate?  huh.gif

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/theguyfrombend/
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Jamin Smitchger
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PostMon May 14, 2007 6:33 pm 
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Admin Note:  The contents of this post were lost in a database crash.
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