Ascent of Red Mountain on 2014-08-09

Climber: jeff carr

Others in Party:Emanuela Schmidt
Date:Saturday, August 9, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Red Mountain
    Elevation:9560 ft / 2913 m

Ascent Trip Report

After failing a year and a day before, we made it! Here is the scoop.
We hiked from the Summit Point Trailhead. It is about 8 miles to the base of the climb. A nice hike, but long for an approach if you are doing this in a single day like we did. To the car and back was about 13.5 hours.
You hike nearly to Crater Lake (yes, there are at least two Crater Lakes in Oregon) and begin to head SE towards the talus slopes of Red Mountain. There are a few sporadic trails here and there and some may be just brief game trails through the woods, but most routes going up to the main treeline are not bad. Once you break out of the treeline, look for the ribbon of trees that ascend the talus slope all the way to the ridgeline near the summit. The one that goes all the way up and is the western-most of those was our guideline for our climb. The Talus begins in this area around 7800-8000 feet, depending where you start.
We stayed about 100-150 feet to the west of these trees, in the larger rocks and had no trouble ascending, though it is a process in the jumble of shifting rocks. Not too bad. We changed course here and there to avoid patches of steeper rock, or smaller rocks ,but maintained our distance from the small scrub-trees. Last year we made the mistake (we ignored good advice from others on Peekbagger who said NOT to get into the more solid rocks to the west of our successful route this year. Valuable lesson learned.)
We topped out on the ridge at 9125, in a perfect spot. The ridge looks a little nasty at first glance, but it not bad at all. The summit is only around a quarter mile away and that goes quickly.
On the summit, it is broad enough to walk around and look over the two sides without cautious steps being needed. There is a summit cairn and a logbook in it. The last logged climb prior to ours was in August of last year.
Okay, now the bad news. Going back down the summit ridge is the last fun section we had on the climb, as the descent on the talus was awful. There is just no easy way to do this. Going forward and stepping down is inviting a twisted ankle or bad fall from shifting rocks, but going "face-to-the-rocks in a backward position is terribly slow and is a finger smashing dance at best. Sideways is just a combination of the two with elements of each bad and good. In my opinion, 2/3 of the climbs effort was used on the descent and 3/4 of the risk. Ela fell twice, both times luckily avoiding anything really nasty.
You DO NOT need a rope, or any technical climbing gear on this route. High-topped (massive ankle support) is recommended, and a pair of leather gloves would not hurt either. Pants instead of shorts to protect your lower legs from the multitude of movable rocks.
The view from the top is spectacular. The whole of the Wallowas is there for you to enjoy, and enjoy it you should ('cause the descent sucks).
Lastly, we paid the price for not heeding good advice on the route last year. It is a good climb and a necessity for you county high-pointers. Stay on the route and you will make it. Trying for the ridge earlier than we have recommended is not a good idea.
Have fun!!
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear

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