Glacier Mountain is the 24th highest peak in Oregon, and is a prominent highpoint on the Lostine - Minam River Divide in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. This is a peak with no trails near its summit, and requires a fair amount of route finding to ascend. The primary of appeal of Glacier Mountain is it's rugged upper reaches, carved by glaciers leaving many tarns hanging below its granite formed summit. Beautiful alpine meadows with no trail access can be found to the north and the southwest where one can take in some of the most gorgeous and unknown scenery in the wilderness area.
Glacier Mountain and Brown Mountain seen in the distance from the south
Appearing at #24 on the Oregon Top 100 list, with 849 feet of prominence, this is a mountain that appears as a ridgeline from nearby peaks moreso than a prominent point. The summit complex consists of four points all within a hundred feet of elevation of each other. In addition these points are within half a mile of each other which is why this high point is somewhat more of a ridge than a mountain from many perspectives. Elkhorn Peak to the immediate north is the high peak in the region at 9233 feet, and is #21 on the Oregon top 100 list.
mrh's Wallowa Mountains page is one of the finest area and range pages you will find on the website, HERE
is a link to the geology section.
Glacier Mountain is accessed from Two Pan Trailhead on the Lostine River. Turn south onto Lostine River Road from the town of Lostine, and follow the road to its end at the Two Pan Trailhead / Campground. Along the way expect the road to transition from pavement to gravel and pass a ranger station where the road quality deteriorates a little further to one lane dirt. Most cars will have no trouble making this drive, but expect mud and some deep mudpuddles early in the season.
Reaching Glacier Peak requires hiking up the Lostine River towards Minam Lake. Deciding where to leave the trail and begin the cross country travel is the challenge of this ascent. A prominent ridge that extends from the peak in a NE direction provides good access to the summit, and that ridge can be accessed from the southeast fairly easily. Accessing the ridge from the NE is more challenging and more brushy, but can also be done. For that reason, is recommended that you hike nearly all the way to Minam Lake, gain the meadows to the east of the summit, and work your way up from there.
High on the northeast ridge
Reaching Glacier Peak requires hiking up the Lostine River towards Minam Lake. It is approximately 6 miles to Minam Lake, however deciding where to leave the trail and begin the cross country travel is the challenge of this ascent. A prominent ridge that extends from the peak in a NE direction provides good access to the summit, and that ridge can be accessed from the southeast fairly easily. Gaining the ridge from the north is more challenging and definitely more brushy, but can also be done. For that reason, it is recommended that you hike nearly all the way to Minam Lake, gain the meadows to the east of the summit, and work your way up from there. The ridge looks challenging from Minam Lake, but once up close to it, a few breaches appear in it where one can scramble atop it.
Expect this climb to take at least a full day from Two Pan Trailhead, with distances varying depending on route. From the north shore of Minam Lake its approximately 2 miles and 1700 feet of elevation gain to the summit.
Red Tape - Camping
Seen at left Minam Lake with the west ridge of Eagle Cap looming above
There are a number of campgrounds along the Lostine River Road. These require a nightly fee, as does parking at the Two Pan Trailhead. There are a handful of turnouts along the road where you might find spot to camp that may not require a fee, but be prepared to pay. Once the weather is nice you might be best off camping at the Two Pan Trailhead so you can lockdown a parking spot, the trailhead parking lot fills up fast.
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Camping is allowed in the Wilderness of course, and many wonderful campsites can be found along the shores of Minam Lake. In the wilderness area be prepared for goat, sheep, and potentially bear encounters. Also be prepared for pack-horse run ins along the trail up to Minam Lake.
When to Climb
June through October is the best time to climb in the Wallowas, although snow can make crossing the Lostine River a challenge in June or July depending on snowpack. Access to the Two Pan Trailhead may not be possible the rest of the year as the Lostine River Road could be buried in snow.
Troy Baker did a early season snow ascent of this peak and Blue Lake Southwest back in 2012, it can be seen on his blog HERE
Nearby Peaks to Consider
If climbing Glacier Mountain for it's aesthetics, consider climbing nearby Brown Mountain. It's summit complex is comprised of blocky crumbling basalt. Like Glacier it has unique water and meadow features just beneath its summit. If working on the Oregon Top 100 list consider combining Glacier with either Elkhorn or Blue Lake Southwest Peak with an overnight camp at Minam Lake.