This was about the sketchiest peak I ever climbed. About 1000 feet of loose talus to get onto some decent rock. Oregon County High point #33 for me, just a few easy walk ups to go.
Hiked up the always-nasty overgrown and overswitchbacked East Eagle Creek trail. Once you get to the higher small forest and rockfield, things start getting nice though. First you see some granite, then small ponds, then beautiful Crater Lake. Camped on the west end and tagged Truax Mountain the first night. Next morning I hiked up Granite Mountain via a lingering snowfield and then tried to traverse up the ridge to Red Mountain. The first large gendarme almost went but I came to a vertical notch that was 5th class. Descended back down to the ridge and traversed under the gendarme on the west side of the ridge back up to the obvious notch. Unfortunately, this also ended up with a vertical wall and I had to descend around it on the other (east) side of the ridge. Once I was able to get around that one and back on the ridge it was a pleasant ridge-hop to the top from there. At the summit was a small cairn with a white quartz rock on top of a small metal box (the original summit register). Lifted the rock off and discovered a large tick on the underside crawling towards me. His body is now crushed on the underside of that rock. Forget trying to sign the register though. The metal box has been compromised and the ziplock bag inside was filled with water and rotting scraps of old summit register. There was also a red metal can over a glass jar but it too was half-filled with water and smelled of ancient mold and rot when I opened it. Tried to air it out a bit but it was quite bad. Hopefully someone will place a new water-tight register at some point.
Descended back what looks to be the way the rest of the summit-log entries used as their ascent route - up some nasty rocks through a faint ridge of trees heading down towards Crater Lake. Doesn't appear there is a super easy or secure route up this via Crater Lake or Granite Mountain but it can be done with some time and perseverance.
I waited as lond as I could to make the 8 hour drive out east. I had been watching snow level reports for over a month and thought I'd give it a go. I got as far as 2.5 miles short of the East Eagle Creek TH due to snow. Which meant a long day ahead of me. 20 miles round trip, 5500' elevation gain. Half of it on snow shoes. From the base of Red was Picks and Pons to the top. Crater Lake was frozen and under snow. Pretty strait forward and absolutely perfect weather. I loved it! It's rare that you get to see these mountains covered in snow. Long 11 hours but made it back to the truck right at dark.
After Rock Creek Butte, I drove east to Baker City and later to McBride Campground (my car-camping destination). Despite great weekend weather, the campground only had 1-2 other campsites taken. My site was so big that 3-4 vehicles could probably fit in it. Highly recommended campground.
Thanks to getting some great beta both from online and from peakbagging buddies, the hiking approach was fairly straightforward. I fell down during the scree ascent and hurt an arm and leg, but nothing serious. I tried not to waste much time, as I did not like being in such a remote area alone and was eager to head home later that day. I did not stay long at the summit due to what looked like approaching thunderclouds. I did not like this peak, unlike other Wallowa gems such as Eagle Cap and Sacajawea Peak. Then came the LONG drive back home, many times in bad traffic on the freeways.
By my calculations, I just passed 1,000,000 feet of cumulative lifetime elevation gain for summit hikes & attempts, by the conclusion of this summit hike.
See CalebEOC Climber's Log below. Quite the pile of rocks, but still an amazing view of the Wallowas. Had an excellent "Red Mountain Challenge" weekend.
Hiked in from Eagle Creek with Troy Baker as part of our "2 Red Mountains Challenge" for the weekend (hiked red mountain in the elkhorns the following day). Hike took longer than I expected thanks to the poorly maintained - heavily overgrown trail. Ascended ridgeline further south than is the standard route and circumnavigated a gendarme between Granite and Red Mountains. Used standard route for descent, pretty hard on the old knees.
On a perfect September day we set out to climb my 35th Oregon county high point. Starting at 8 AM and finishing 11 hours, 40 minutes later in the waning twilight, we were surprised at how difficult this trek was. Turns out that the trail climbs and drops much more that the map shows resulting in about 5,700 vertical foot gain for the round trip. The final 1,500 vertical of the peak is 2/3 on loose steep talus so that part requires a bit of extra energy as well.
The views in this part of the Wallowas are so inspiring as to make the difficulty seem trivial, so we enjoyed ourselves immensely and look forward to our next opportunity to climb in this wonderful area.
See Dean's post below. Baker County was my 35th of 36 Oregon county highpoint, and on the next day I completed all of Oregon's counties on Sacajawea Peak in Wallowa County.
Haydar's summitlog pretty much sums it up! Crazy weather. Got pounded by snow and wind on Saturday (Red Mtn. summit day as we initiallyl planned it....wasn't meant to be) and "ran" up Krag Peak as a consolation prize with Haydar. Saturday evening did not look promising as we had practically no visibility and continued snow fall (were planning on just hiking out Sun. morning). Our luck however changed Sunday morning as we saw mostly clear skies and sunshine. Decided to give Red a shot afterall and as we scrambled up the snow-coated scree and reached the ridge the clouds returned and started dumping snow on us once again. We tagged the summit and quickly hiked down/back to the car. Shirley and I both enjoyed Haydar's company - made the hike out less painful and the drive home enjoyable. 1am arrival in Portland and a crappy 7am wake up for work.
Nature had prepared few surprises for us on my first trip to the remote landscape of Wallowas. On Saturday as we reached Crater Lake snow started coming down heavily and the Red mtn. attempt was out. To salvage the day rpc and I climbed Krag Peak west of Crater Lake in almost zero visibility. Next day happy to see the sun shining, with Shirley, Radek and Blondie, a true trooper, we headed for Red Mtn. There was nearly half a foot of snow on the ground, we quickly skirted the lake and went cross country to the base of the mountain. Decided to go along the second band of trees all the way to the ridge. Negotiating the sharp rock/scree covered in snow took us a while and once at the ridge top the sun was gone and dark clouds from the west had moved in. We dropped our packs here and raced to the summit. The final part of the ridge was exposed and very loose also covered in snow and ice. Any slip here would have had dire consequences. Carefully inched our way to the summit, unfortunately no views. Came down the same way talking and enjoying ourselves. My special thanks to Radek and Shirley for introducing me to the Wallowas. Will be back!
Three of us, all summitpost members and county highpointers ascended this peak on a warm September day. Barely escaping an encounter with a bull in a meadow along the trail early on (I had a red scarf ready to throw on the pack of fellow summitposter rfbolton ) we made the 18 mile round trip effort in a twelve hour day. We thought the mountain, after descending it should be re-named to Mt. Cairn as it seemed to be put together in a like manner (or slag heap). Still, it has a great summit and tremendous views in all directions. For rfbolton , it was his 35th Oregon County highpoint and my 29th. It was our first effort with Dennis Poulin and since then Dennis and I have climbed a ton of stuff together.