I hit a milestone with my last trip into the Wallowa Mountains, number 70. After looking at the weather forecast for the weekend I decided to stay on the east side of the state and attempt my first double for the season. My goal was Blue Lake Peak (official unnamed peak 8844′) and Glacier Mountain, which are located in the upper West Lostine River Valley and Upper Minam River Valley close to Minam Lake.
The upper West Lostine River is a magical place, especially this time of year with snow still on the ground and the temperatures warming up. The trail portion of the trip went fast. I had about 3.5 miles of open trail before I grabbed the snowshoes off my pack and continued over the snow up to Minam Lake. I continued around Minam and up past Blue Lake on my way up to the north ridge leading to the summit of Blue Lake Peak. I was standing on the summit by 1pm.
My plan from Blue Lake Peak was to assess the connecting ridge which included Brown Peak to see if it would be possible to traverse over to Glacier Mountain without losing too much altitude. After studying my map, looking at the ridge, and eating a quick snack I decided to descent back to Minam Lake to set up a camp and after that I would decide on ascending Glacier either that evening or in the morning of the next day.
The descent back to the lake was uneventful and took about an hour. I’ll be honest, it was so nice to have the lake to pump water from instead of melting snow for water. I pitched the tent up tight preparing for the possible rain, jumped inside, and started cooking up some food. My early dinner consisted of…yes Ramen and Mashed potatoes (Rashed Potatoes). I chilled in camp for a couple hours listening to my audiobook and enjoying the view of the lake.
It was around 4:30 pm when I started to seriously consider heading up Glaicer and by 5 I was loading up my pack and heading back out to ascend Glacier Mountain. I figured it would take a couple hours up which would put me on top by 7 leaving enough daylight for the descent back to the lake. The climb up was amazing. There was a small basin between Minam Lake and the peak and as I climbed closer to the peak I realized that I would have to climb up a fairly steep headwall before connecting to the summit ridge. I grabbed my axe and put on my crampons and climbed up the wall, this section ended up being the most enjoyable part of the trip. The evening light on the surrounding peaks was spectacular, definitely one of those moments when I wished I would’ve carried my heavy DSLR up to take pictures instead of just the GoPro. Glacier Mountain is truly one of the gems in the Wallowa Mountains, I’m glad that I chose to climb it early in the season while the slopes were still covered in snow. From the summit I looked off to the west and I could see very dark clouds from the pending change in weather so I took a little video and snapped images and was off again in less than 10 min. The trip back to the lake took around an hour so I was back pumping water out of the lake and cooking the rest of my instant taters before dark. What a day, I felt amazing after the approach hike and two ascents, the second peak being my number 70 out of 100.
I woke up on Saturday to cloudy skies so I packed up early and was off for the hike out by 6:30 and back to the trailhead by 9. This will be one of my most memorable trips of the project, it seemed effortless and I had the whole West Lostine Valley to myself.