Baker County High Point Trip Report

Red Mountain (9,560+ ft)

Date: September 6, 2003
Authors: Bob Bolton, Dean Molen and Dennis Poulin

On Friday afternoon, September 5, 2003, Bob and Dean met at a rest area on I-84 and drove on to Baker City, then east on SR86 toward Richland. They ended up driving along SR86 with Dennis, discovering this when all both headed up FR77 toward the trailhead. At the trailhead we chatted for quite a while under the spectacular moon- and Mars-lit sky.

We were on the trail by 6:15 AM for the long and arduous hike/climb of Red Mountain. While traversing around the last little ridge before entering the basin of Crater Lake we noticed a faint beaten track leading north onto the low ridge above us. We followed it, believing that it would lead to the little lake showing on the topo map which is east and uphill from Crater Lake. This track quickly became a high quality trail, and did indeed lead to the small but brackish lake, with nice campsites nearby. Here we could see the west face of Red Mountain, and we studied it for quite awhile, deciding that the previous reports from Ken Jones and Adam Helman were right on the money.

We headed north toward some bands of trees on the far side of the talus-covered west face, then ascended in or near those trees to the 9,200-foot level on the south ridge. From there it was an enjoyable scramble along the ridge to the summit.

The views from the summit were terrific, and included Eagle Cap, Matterhorn, and Sacajawea. The summit register was placed by locals in 1977 and had many entries, more than I expected. On the descent we decided to try the talus/scree slopes south of our ascent route. This worked quite well, but we were extremely happy to be back on terra firma at the bottom of the slope. We thought of several names we would like to renamed this mountain, including Cairn Peak, the entire mountain seeming like one gargantuan cairn, and almost as stable. The return hike includes a long, low-angle 500+ foot elevation gain stretch of trail that liked to have never ended.

We were all very glad that we had gone with others, as soloing this peak seemed too risky, given the probably 17-mile distance in very remote country, and given the chance for injury on the talus slope.