Wallowa Death March 1.0

Setting the Scene

This is a “trip report” for a misadventure I had with my good friend and many-time bad-idea partner Ian Cooke back in early Summer 2016. The goal to summit the ten tallest summits in Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa Mountain range. (I have no idea whose idea this was)

The photo album for the trip can be found here

Also see the video of the trip.

The plan was to take 5 to 6 days, starting from the East Fork of the Wallowa River, just south of Wallowa Lake. From there, a loose loop would take us some 80+ miles (We kind of eyeballed the distance using Google Maps, I have no idea what it actually is) of cross country hiking and scree slogging, plus tens of thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss would take us over the following peaks:


Day 1 - Aneroid Peak

On the first day, a mixture of laziness and … laziness lead us to just summit Aneroid mountain and setup camp.


Aneroid Lake


Looking South from the summit of Aneroid Mountain.


Ian getting some `noms.

Day 2 - General Derping

That night it snowed. Only a couple inches, but nevertheless we were grateful we had decided to bring the tent. When the weather cleared mid-morning, we decided, for lack of anything better to do, to leave the tent set up and climb Pete’s point. After deciding that we were probably safe from the weather for a bit, we returned to camp, packed up, and marched further south.


Looking up at Pete’s Point.


Sweet cornice on the summit of Pete’s.


Looking south. Cusick Mountain is off in the distance.


Camp for day 2.

Day 3 - Snow

The day began clear, and we decided to climb Sentinel Peak and continue on the ridge south to grab Cusick Peak. Somewhere on the way to Cusick, a snow storm rolled in. We summited in a near whiteout and soggily descended some 3500-4000 feet down the scree on the south side of the peak. After getting out bearings, we hiked to be base of Hawkin’s Pass and set up camp to wait out the weather.

At this point, the idea of completing our original objective was out of the question. We were just trying get back into the correct canyon and get out.


Starting the day.


Sentinel in the foreground, Cusick in the background.

Day 4 - !@#$

We thought we had a weather window to make a climb over the snow-filled Hawkins Pass. We didn’t. After playing around in a summer time winter wonderland for 8 hours, we had the choice of bailing and returning to the trailhead, or forging on and climbing a few more peaks. We weren’t too wet, and were a little bummed that the whole journey was impossible at this point - we decided to hike up to Ice Lake to grab as many peaks as possible


Winter wonderland.


Weather is FINALLY starting to clear.


Our forthcoming blackmetal album cover.

Day 5 - The Hurwal Divide

This day was pretty straightforward. From Ice Lake, we climbed directly onto the Hurwal Divide, a ridge separating the canyons Hurricane Creek and Wallowa River. We opted to not climb Matterhorn or Sacagawea, deciding instead to just climb Hurwal and Chief Joseph. A steap climb down from Joseph brought us back to Wallowa lake and our starting point.


Looking down on a frozen Ice Lake.


Sacagawea Peak - the highest in the Wallowas.


Ian on the Hurwal Divide.


The frozen Wallowas. You can see Eagle Cap in this picture.


Looking down on Wallowa Lake from the summit of Chief Joseph.



Photo Op on the summit of the final mountain.

Wrap Up

We returned safely from this adventure, so in that sense it was a success. However, we did not complete our original objective of climbing all the things. In total we climbed:

… barely half of the original objective. We were not done with this mountain range.