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Ski McCully Basin within the Eagle Cap Wilderness
with Wallowa Alpine Huts guide service, NE Oregon 1/25-29/07

GPS Data: Map, Track, Waypoints

Click here for GPX GPS eXchange format file.
Click here for TPO TOPO.EXE format file.
Click here for GDB Garmin format file.

Waypoints:

  • Start of tour
  • Parking
  • Trailhead
  • Wilderness area boundary
  • Various summits
  • Named ski terrain
  • The yurts

GPS Stats and other info:

  • Mileage: 4.5 miles from parking to the yurts
  • Time: about 2.5 hours from parking to the yurts
  • Elevation: 1750 feet from parking to the yurts
    at 7500 feet. Skiing tops out at 9700 feet on
    Aneroid Mountain. Total elevation gain for the
    trip was 8230 feet.

Logistics:

  • We drove about 7.5 hours from Seattle to the town of Joseph in NE Oregon.
  • Best nearby beer is the Terminal Gravity brew pub in the town of Enterprise.
    Good food too. It's also where all the skiers hang out.
  • Best digs - I'm not really sure but Wallowa Alpine Huts recommends
    CHANDLER'S BED & BREAKFAST. They'll store your gear. They sell showers
    ala carte. Prices seem reasonable. But their coffee is going need an
    upgrade if they want Seattle business.
  • Best coffee in Enterprise is at the Book Loft
  • Best coffee in Joseph is at the Caldera

Trip Report

1/25-29/07 Fri-Mon Guided trip with Wallowa Alpine Huts w/ Russ, Al & Dina, Jim & Yanna, Tammy

This is my 8th trip to ski into the Eagle Cap Wilderness w/ Wallowa Alpine Huts. Wow, 8 trips since 1997. I must really like these guys.

If you don't know about them, they are a small outfit that provides a guided backcountry ski experience in the Wallowa Mountains of northeast Oregon within the boundary of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. They have 4 yurts in McCully Creek basin - two that sleep 5 guests apiece, a (wood fired) sauna yurt and a kitchen/communal yurt. They supply -10 degree sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows, sleeping bag liners,
wood stoves, wood, meals and great company. Also miscellaneous stuff like (fire starter, TP, soap, mirrors etc.) You supply your personal gear and be prepared to ski. They offer 3, 4 and 5 day trips with prices this year at $425, $525 and $625. Our four days was $525. I usually take care of myself in the back country but like I said I like these guys so much that I go back almost every year. They feed you good food, find good snow for you, keep you safe, supply the beer (!), stoke the sauna, break trail... the list goes on and on. Check them out.

 



Our drive from Seattle to Enterprise, OR is a little eventful. The police have closed I-84 eastbound just east of Pendleton for a wreck... this is the place where the highway climbs out of the Columbia Gorge 2300 feet onto the plateau above, known for fogs so thick you can't see 20 feet! A quick perusal of the maps and we decide to detour through the Blue Mountains on highways 11 and 204 and reconnect with our usual route at Elgin. All in all the trip took 7.5 hours with two quick stops for gas.

We arrive at dinner time - just in time - to visit a favorite locale - the Terminal Gravity brew pub in Enterprise. Good food. REALLY good beer. We stay at our usual spot, the Wilderness Motel in Enterprise, not because it's good but because it's cheap and it's our habit.

1/26/07 Fri

We meet up with our guides at Chandler's Bed and Breakfast. This could be a good place to stay in the future, $29 per night skier dorm includes breakfast, $5 showers, storage while you're in the mountains... They will certainly have to provide better coffee though!

 

 

McCully Creek Trailhead The Wallowas Al & Jim on the way in


 

Connelly (the owner and head guide) is off at a trade show so our guides this trip are Morgan (from last time 2005), Sam and Paul. We breakfast and head for the McCully Basin trailhead. By 10 AM we're skinning to the yurts. Unfortunately, we are one short - Russ has been sick since before we left Seattle and has decided to stay in town and maybe come in tomorrow :( It is otherwise a beautiful day, a little too beautiful - the last several days have been really warm and I'm worried about the snow.... hmm. Two and a half hours later we've completed the easy 1800 foot, four mile skin to the yurts (at 7500 feet).

 

Axis Mundi...    

 

The cooking and social yurt The "growler"
Just like being at the beach!
Our home



We leisurely finish our lunches, divvy up the beds, unload gear, stoke the wood stoves, get warm, redress for skiing... We know the drill. All of us have been here before except for Tammy. The guides spend a couple hours doing, well, whatever the guides do to open camp. At 2:30 PM we skinning up again. I'd forgotten what an incredibly beautiful place this is - hardly a cloud in the sky. We hike up to an area they call Pebble Beach - where we take a short run and then do avalanche beacon practice.

After practice we have time for one hike up to about 8300 feet in the #6 chute under the Diamond. It's cold, north facing and always in the shade. This is the test... and the (old) snow turns out to be great, soft boot top "powder". If there was still any idea that we might not find good snow it is gone now. We enjoy a great run back to the yurts.



As is our custom, we enjoy before-dinner martini's amongst the group. The guides eventually have appetizers ready and surprise surprise an 8? gallon keg of Terminal Gravity Porter ! oh yes ! quesadillas, salmon steaks, trimmings... carrot cake for desert. They feed us like kings and queens.

1/27/07 Sat

Up at 7:30 to great coffee, breakfast and hiking out to the mountains. The sunshine is brilliant but in the shade it is friggin' cold ! We hike up to the saddle between Mt Andy and The Diamond wondering what the backside would look like. The views are great looking out past Hells Canyon and into Idaho. But the snow doesn't call to us so it's back to the shade of the north facing chutes under the Diamond. We make several runs in good snow here and then head down for a run or two in the woods before
heading back in.

Martinis... Sauna... dinner...

 

Yanna The view back towards civilization Guide, Tammy, Bodi, Benny, Dina, Al

 

Tar'd skier (Al) Dina Jim

1/28/07 Sun

Up at 7:30 to sparkling cold blue skies. Having learned our lesson yesterday we once again stick to north facing slopes at Pinnacle Bowl and finding nice, soft but old boot-top powder. We work our way west ... catching up with Morgan he motions us to be quiet because he and Sam have seen a wolf up in the rocks ! We hang around for a while but alas see no further sign. We climb into the chute two to the left of the newly christened "lone wolf chute" and enjoy another soft snow run. We're yearning for some sunshine and so head down to do a couple runs on a knob called the Pope's Nose. Tammy and I and Morgan ski the Septum run which has a very, very steep 40 foot entrance that lines us up perfectly for first tracks on the slopes below ! A few of us are tired and head in early - the rest do one more run.

And..., today Russ felt well enough to come in. He's spent 2 boring days in Joseph getting better and looks pretty good. We arrive to toasty warm yurts as he's already stoked the wood stoves !

That boy earned himself a martini...

 

  Al Tammy & Dina
    Self portrait
     
Al Dina Yanna
 
Dina   Jim
Chris Dina Al

1/29/07 Mon

Our last day we hike out of camp toward the west and up under the flanks of Hidden peak. We hike up to about 8650 where the views are great but the snow is icy and sucks. We ski back down to the woods where protection from the wind and sun has left some good snow in the glades and meadows. We yo-yo a couple and then ski back to the yurts to prepare for the trip out.
 

 

  Al et al  
Yanna L-R: Connelly, Jim, Sam, Yanna,
Paul, Chris, Dina, Al
Tammy
Guide's dilemma Russ Yanna


We're planning on being on-trail at 2pm in order to get back to Seattle by midnight ! I have one last task - attempting to break my time for the ski out. My best has been a little over 29 minutes but today the track is well packed and a little icy so it's bound to be a fast, fast toboggan ride! Despite falling 4 (!) times I make it to the bottom (alive) in 25 minutes. A new record for me! (By the way, Connally says that the real record is about 17 minutes !)

We're on the road late at 4pm and just to add one last bit of adventure, we stop for dinner in Walla Walla where I manage
to lock my keys in the car! GAK! Triple-A is mercifully fast and we only lose a half hour or so. Back in Seattle at about 1:30 AM. late.

Outofcontextisms:

I dreamed you were Jesus and we were all your disciples!

I had the same dream!

Do you want to the know the one good thing about me? I don't stink!

My lips are numb

I'm going to strip down now because I know I'm going to strip down later...

Consider where you ever experienced fish smell in a non-fish environment...

Every woman needs a project.

Gettin' snacky...

 

A few days in paradise, good people, good food, blue skies, life is definitely different, yet somehow the same ...

 


Axis Mundi


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Last modified: 01/17/11