Big Lookout Mountain, OR

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A long snowshoe to Big Lookout Mountain, Oregon leaves us with little more view than the outhouse.

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Big Dan called me to see if I wanted to explore a peak in Eastern Oregon. I already knew where it was- it's very prominent from I-80. So after a brief discussion about routes and driving lonely back roads far from traffic in unknown snow depths, I was in.

We were hoping to get within about five miles of the peak- that seemed like a reasonable distance for an all-day jaunt. We used the map and GPS to determine how high we needed to be, around 5300'. At exactly 10.0 miles from the freeway, I found a wide place in the road and parked.

We had entered fog shortly after leaving the freeway (which is at about 2300'). We had hopes that it might lift, or we might drive above it. But it was not to be. However, the frozen rime on everything (and I mean everything, like my glasses, etc.) gave it a nice, seasonal look.

The snow depth where we parked was probably about 6". Over the course of our route, it varied from perhaps 10-12" to none, depending on wind scouring and exposure to the sun (well, I suppose it might have been sunny, just not this day).

Snacks

The route initially climbs from where we parked, but then winds around a ridgetop, up and down and on either side. This goes on for several miles, which made it hard to tell on the map exactly where we were. And as you can see, the visibility didn't help much.

The woods were interesting and pretty. We started in juniper, saw a variety of firs, some ponderosa, and there were patches of aspen. All interspersed with alder and sagebrush. The terrain reminded me of the back side of Boise's Mores Mountain, with occasional granite towers here and there.

Summit ridge with cornices already

Down in the trees there had been a little wind, occasionally knocking rime from the trees onto us. But when we finally started the actual ascent of the peak, the wind built steadily. On the summit, it was blowing a steady 30, with occasional stronger gusts. At 17 degrees F, that's a bunch of wind chill. We tried to hide behind the lookout, but without much cover. I was trying to take a picture of Dan as he approached, but when I leaned out from the windbreak, I got socked with a piece of ice. Enough of that.

We had some hot tea, and headed down. Fast.

Note that this picture shows the totality of the views to be had in these conditions. Too bad, but we're going to have to go back on a clear day.

Tracks

No, Dan has not been rolling in the snow.

It's a little over a mile and a half from the summit to the gate across the road, and about 900'. Down here it was protected, so we finally stopped so Dan could fix his boot. I had to get a picture of his liberal coating of ice.

It seemed an awfully long way back to the car. When we got home, we compared GPS and map notes to determine that we had traveled a little over 13 miles. That's 30% longer than our estimate of a good day on snowshoes.

Dan's trip report.

Deep powder

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski