Monday, May 27, 2013

Splitboarding: 4/16 - 4/21/13, Wing Ridge, Wallowa Mountains, NE Oregon

The Wallowa Mountains in the northeast corner of Oregon, are a remote wilderness and one of the most beautiful places in the state(IMO).  Due to there location, off the beaten path, I have not had an opportunity to explore this range in the past .  The homie Joey and I were trying to set up a trip somewhere new in early April, and with weather in the Wallowa's looking optimistic, it was an easily agreed-on destination.      

I met Joey at the Salt Creek Summit Sno-Park on the evening of 4/15/13, with high hopes.  Skinning out in the morning, blue sky's and fresh snow were about.

Joey leading the way.

From the sno-park we could see a weird texture on most of the alpine slopes.  Unfortunately, as we got closer, it was evident, wind had stripped snow off nearly all aspects in the alpine terrain.  On a good pow day, you could have a lot of fun in this zone. 

Although we had clear sky's in the morning, clouds and visibility were in and out all day.  After getting rocked out on a ridge, we rode down in vertigo-like conditions.  Although winds had done there damage, we were still able to find soft snow.

Coming into this trip, with the combination of fresh snow and sunshine, Joey and I both had high expectations.  After the wind threw us a curveball, we had to re-discuss our riding opportunities and goals.  Based on the observations of our first day, alpine terrain was not the place to be.  With a couple cool burn zones in the area, we decided to check one out.

Joey heading out on 4/17/13.

With good visibility, as we gained elevation, we earned great views of the 7 Devil's Mountains in Idaho.

We skinned across this set of tracks at around 7500'.  They were a day or two old, and showed little detail in the prints.  Each step was 12-18" apart.  They were not dog tracks, not big enough to be wolf tracks, and Joey and I both felt that they were cougar tracks.

With wind stripping snow off most slopes, certain aspects were getting wind loaded.  On this slope, a skier was able to trigger a fair sized wind slab.

The burn zone we were shredding was really fun.  Joey putting down the backcountry butterz. 

Joey put together this video from our shredding.  It's cool, check it out.

After 2 days of shredding, and a rest day discussing conditions and objectives, Joey had to return to civilization.  Not ready to join him, I decided to hang around for a couple more days.  Waking up to rain at 6000' on 4/19, I decided take another rest day and drove down the road to check out Hell's Canyon.  I ran into snow on the Hell's Canyon road after 7-8 miles, and didn't make it to Hell's Canyon proper, but still scored some great views.    

The next day, 4/20/13, I woke up with plans of taking a solo tour.  While making the morning coffee, a pair of skiers pulled into the lot and parked next to me.  It was a pair of Ski Patrollers from Utah, who were going to stay at the Wing Ridge Hut for the weekend.  After some small talk, the pair invited me to tour with them for the weekend, since I was by myself.  Not wanting to be a loner, I was stoked to get the invite. 

Gaining Wing Ridge, via a steep skin track.  Each of us took a slide off this skin track at some point. 

The options are endless in the Wallowa's.  How far can you hike?

I feel bad because, I can't recall the name of the two Ski Patroller's I rode with.  They were strong hikers, ripping skiers, and very in touch with the snow.  Needless to say they were Canadians.

Riding conditions were favorable.  2" of fresh on top of an edge-able base.  This slope was fun, it reminded me of God's Lawnmower in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

We went up for another lap.

Friendly ridge travel in the Wallowa's. 

Ripping, Canuck style. 

The next morning I met the Canadians, at the shelter, at 8:00am.  After some quick shenanigans, we were back on the skin track.  

Yup, we went up this thing again.  2nd time around, no one slipped.

Morgan a top Wing Ridge.  

Canucking it on the NE face of Pyramid Peak.

In order to check out a different zone, we set a new skin track up to Wing Ridge.

The Canadians, scoping things out.

Shreddage.  Although we didn't score powder, we ripped very shreddable corn snow.  

One more time to the top.

This time for the NW face of Pyramid Peak.

Yeah, it was pretty steep.

Tracks down Pyramid Peak.

A great week capped off with a sweet run.  Although powder snow eluded us, this was an awesome week of exploration and shredding with new friends.    


  1. Nice dude. Sweet area! I love the one photo of the Imnaha canyon.....I drive that gravel road every fall on the way to Hells Canyon for a backcountry bowhunting trip with my old man. The view into the Canyon is pretty sick and definitely something worth seeing if you get a chance!

    1. Yeah, really awesome diversity in that region of the state!

  2. Nice trip guys. I've been out I-84 twice in my life from SLC to either PDX or SEA. Remembered this mountain range from both drives. Never knew what it was called until now.