Ice Lake to Razz Lake OT route- kmzs

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ralphhitz
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Joined: January 14th, 2020, 8:38 am

Ice Lake to Razz Lake OT route- kmzs

Post by ralphhitz » January 14th, 2020, 9:20 am

Hey-since the threads about this topic are 8-9 years old I thought I'd start a new one. Last summer (early Aug 2019) myself and my 14 and 15 year olds backpacked in the Wallowas, which were stunning. From the Wallowa River TH we wanted to visit Ice Lake and the Lakes Basin area and Glacier Lake then return to TH. The OT shortcut from Ice to Razz sounded appealing given this itinerary since it would cut off ten miles or so. There are good posts out there about the route over the ridge between Ice and Razz but here are some Google Earth kmzs I drew of our route. These paths are not directly from waypoints, just from my memory, but I remember the details well and it's not a super complicated route. However, be aware that the paths are not from waypoints. From down below at Ice Lake the ridge looks sketchy, and it is definitely a steep hike going up and there is some scrambling around the main tooth, but no significant exposure.

Once we reached the ridge we skirted around the north side of the main tooth, maybe 25 feet below the top. The south side looked too steep and exposed to traverse. Once around the main tooth it was easy to follow the ridge to a notch (Bosterman's? I see it referenced as this in a previous discussion). A long couloir reaches down on the north side from this notch. This looks like it would work fine as an approach (see :straight up couloir kmz) instead of our route and I could see mtn goat tracks on it, and another trip report from Oregon Hikers describes descending it. From below we had opted against coming up this couloir to the notch because I was a little worried about rock fall and we had no helmets- probably would have been fine but I had my kids along and kinda sensitive about their heads.

At the notch we headed just about 100 feet down a south-facing couloir and then traversed onto a treed ramp that leads to Upper Razz. From Upper Razz followed game trails along outflow stream to Razz Lake.

I think it was about 3.5 hours from Ice Lake, maybe more as we took it slow.

From up on the ridge there are several couloirs on the south side that lead down directly to Razz Lake. The furthest west one may be make-able, however from the vantage of Razz Lake at the end of descent it looked like there are maybe some waterfalls in the couloir where you might get stuck with a 20 foot drop. But I don't know for sure. Anyway the descent we took to Upper Razz is very scenic, in a beautiful cirque, so that route is worth it for the views, and the trail from Upper Razz to Razz is easy.

When we got to Razz, no one there, and it was so nice we stayed the night. The next morning we took an unmaintained trail leading from the northeast end of Razz down to the Lakes Basin. About 45-60 minutes down.

If you don't mind some quite steep ascending/descending and a little careful scrambling on the ridge this route makes connecting Ice Lake to Lakes Basin straightforward and efficient.
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Straight up couloir.kmz
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From Ice to Razz.kmz
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Bosterson
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Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

Re: Ice Lake to Razz Lake OT route- kmzs

Post by Bosterson » January 14th, 2020, 10:05 am

Nice work! That is basically the route I took in my 2012 TR, except I started by going up the gully between Razzberry Mtn and Craig Mtn (since I was first trying to go to Craig). I went up that slope you took (west of Razzberry) in 2017 and it's not bad at all. My recollection of getting from the ridge over to the top of that big dirt couloir to the west was that I had to scramble on top of some blocks - did you guys do that, or were you lower? I went down the northern dirt couloir on the way back, and it was not very fun - very steep and loose. You could go up it, but the ridge traverse is much more fun and interesting. Trying to cross the ridge any further west than that perfect ramp under the notch would probably be pretty dangerous as it's much steeper. That's great you camped at the Razzes - I've been meaning to get back there! :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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retired jerry
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Ice Lake to Razz Lake OT route- kmzs

Post by retired jerry » January 14th, 2020, 10:15 am

I was at Ice Lake last summer looking up at that route - some day...

nice work

ralphhitz
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Joined: January 14th, 2020, 8:38 am

Re: Ice Lake to Razz Lake OT route- kmzs

Post by ralphhitz » January 14th, 2020, 11:32 am

Bosterson- yes we scrambled over the boulders at the top of the ridge- on the highest pile of boulders (the main tooth as I called it) is where we skirted around the north side a little, not directly over the top. The kmz path I drew doesn't look quite right at this point on our route. I think the elevation draping that Google Earth does isn't accurate here. I should redraw on a topo. Or let people have the enjoyment of figuring it out themselves- not too many choices once on the ridge anyway. This shortcut was one of the highlights of our trip: nobody around and the cirque that Upper Razz sits in is absolutely beautiful. That's good info about your descent down the dirt couloir. It did look full of nastiness.

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