First chute

Page Type
Oregon, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hike/some scramble
Time Required:
A long day
Class 3

Route Quality: 0 Votes

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First chute
Created On: Aug 1, 2003
Last Edited On: Aug 1, 2003


There are two ways ... I'm giving you the easy way.

Go to the marina parking lot at Wallowa State Park south of Joseph. On the south edge of the parking lot there is a fancy fish cleaning station. About 20 yards west is a building with no windows; might be a storage shed or wellhouse. The unsigned trail starts right next to the west side of that shed.

Route Description

Take the trail south from the parking lot. About 50 yards BEFORE the little bridge turn right (west) on a distinct trail and head up. (Barstad's book says the trail forks 50 yards after the little bridge, but this is currently incorrect.)

Keep heading up and taking the most obvious trail at all forks. There are trails all over the place, but the most obvious trail is ... obvious. Cross the Chief Joseph Trail when you come to it and keep going up.

Eventually you'll rejoin the Chief Joseph Trail, but it's hard to tell exactly when that happened. Follow up a wide sagebrush slope. When the trail crosses the drainage and turns sharply northeast, it's time to leave the trail and find the base of the first chute. This departure is at about 6,350 feet in elevation.

Go up the drainage and bear left (southwest). Soon you should see a gulley with avalanche-impacted vegetation and mature trees on each side. Work your way up to the gulley and ascend. The easiest route is to stay on the left side of the gulley. This chute is probably prone to avalanches in the winter based on the appearance of the vegetation.

Top out on the ridge and stay on top of the ridge heading up and west. There is a rock outcrop which Barstad recommends passing on the left. Duh, the right exposes you to a sheer 1,500-foot drop. So stay on the left, but stay HIGH (within 20-30 feet of the crest). Lower down are fields of big loose boulders and it's nerve-wracking and unsafe. (Take it from the knucklehead that crossed down there).

Once past the outcrop it's a pleasant mile of broad ridge to the unique summit formation.

A reasonable round-trip if you stay on the route is 8 hours.

Essential Gear

WATER. There will be no refills unless it's early in the season and you can find snow.

No ice axe, crampons, or rope is required for a summer ascent.

Miscellaneous Info

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