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Voytek

Elkhorn Mountains Ice Climbing

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Awesome!

Looks like another place that will cut straight from "I've never heard of it" to a conga line on the road in next weekend.  The internet - can't climb with it, can't climb without it... :lmao:

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Doubtful, the approach and the fickle conditions will keep this a rarely visited enigma, same as all the goods in OR.

On 12/4/2017 at 2:43 PM, diepj said:

Awesome!

Looks like another place that will cut straight from "I've never heard of it" to a conga line on the road in next weekend.  The internet - can't climb with it, can't climb without it... :lmao:

 

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Hey Fellas,

 

The roads to get to these ice venues are very tricky 4x4 only jeep trails. If you decide to come out here and visit keep in mind that you will need a sturdy 4x4 with high clearance, chains for all four, skills in driving off-road style steep rocky tracks and tools to get yourself unstuck if you fall short. Living here and climbing in those mountains for decades has given me the opportunities when conditions are good to choose a mode of transportation that works. Later in the season we will switch to snow mobiles but those too are tricky to operate in that terrain and there are MAJOR slide paths that have to be negotiated. At one point the pine creek road crux is just below a restriction near the base of a 2200 foot slide path and this is where you will end up stuck and digging nervously as there is no escaping if it slides. 

 

The routes can be fun, almost always form but if I did not live here, I would go to Canada as the climbing isn't really that worthy for the effort; short. 

 

Hope this helps!

 

Mark Hauter-

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I was able to check it out last weekend. Very cool setting and some nice ice flows in there. Lot's of opportunity for interesting looking routes to the top in an alpine flavor.

Concur 100% on the access. It was very rough. With a full-size 4x4 we made it across the private land but decided to stop when we had to chain up to get out of a tricky spot. There were (Mark's?) jeep tracks to the top but not knowing what was ahead we didn't want to continue alone. I always prefer using chains to get out of trouble not deeper into it!

The road is steep and rough. There are not many places to turn around...  A small high-clearance vehicle (like a jeep) is ideal.  Full size truck is a tight squeeze (too tight if you like your paint) and some of the turns are pretty tight as well. Right now there is not much snow which makes the drive possible for such a vehicle.  Suby? No way!

Mark is 100% right that there are some HUGE slide paths on the road!

Bottom line, I could see going back, early season when the snow is light. Fun, interesting spot. But it's a long way from the west side and a lot of effort getting in.

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Did you get to climb? From the upper county road sign (public lands boundary) it is 1.5 boot to the pine creek headwall above the reservoir. 2.5 will get you to the east facing rock creek buttes north ridge which has many good steeper lines in right now. Also for those who are interested, rock creek drainage is in good shape. The road is more reasonable and the climbing is in. Take the rock creek lake trail (road 250) and follow the boot tracks into the upper drainage for the alpine bucket lake routes- 3 hours- or head up to the obvious pillar route above the trail where you will find nicotine free 4+, roll over immediately left M7 traditional and tobacco gully further right, a long aesthetic 3 in a corner all of which should deliver a good day with varied climbing. If you go do not attempt to drive down road 250, park at a wide spot a little further down and walk that part, 5 mins to the trail proper. Once it starts hammering snow these will be out for a while.

Good hunting and perhaps I will see you in there!

 

Mark-

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Yeah, booted up to Pine Creek Headwall. Climbed some easy low stuff over on the left hand side.

I'll have to research a little more if I go again to figure out the extra mile to the Rock Creek buttress you mention.

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You can xc ski up any of these drainages. Distances have been lengthened due to recent and forthcoming snow falls. Perhaps the best option would be the strawberry falls down in Grant county. Here you could drive towards the strawberry campground and still perhaps make it to the gate low on the road. From there it is a few miles to the trail and then another few miles to the falls which has half dozen safe and interesting routes to choose from; none of which exceed 30 meters.    

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Thanks Vert.  Hopefully I can make the trip from Walla Walla.  I'm afraid the little bit of ice up here is probably gone.  I drove to banks lake New Years eve and everything was super thin.  The punchbowl was climbable, but the looming deathcicles were huge.  

 

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