Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

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Bosterson
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Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by Bosterson » August 23rd, 2012, 10:56 am

After doing the Matterhorn to Sacajawea scramble last summer, for my 2012 Eagle Cap trip (seems like it's a yearly occurrence, 4 times in 4 years), I wanted to go up to Ice Lake, basecamp, and explore the little side canyons and unnamed peaks. After that Razz Lake thread came up on here, I decided it would be a good exploratory target.

The first day we drove out to Wallowa Lake and hiked in to Ice Lake and set up camp.

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Some interesting light formations at sunset.

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The next morning after breakfast, I set off to explore. I went around the back of Ice Lake and then up a scree couloir towards the saddle between Craig Mountain and the unnamed peak to its west (which I'll call 9314 - its height). [Edit: this is called Razzberry Mountain]

Craig Mountain from our camp on the back of the Ice Lake peninsula. The couloir runs down on the right along the trees to the lake.

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Looking back down the couloir.

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I decided to see if I could summit Craig Mountain, and headed up a scree field below the saddle.

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After some steep scree work, I found myself at a false summit. The true summit was still a ways away.

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I decided the short trees would be too annoying to try to navigate through to reach the true summit, and I wanted to save more time for Razz Lake, so I turned around and headed straight down to the saddle. This route turned out to be super easy, with firm footing and a mellow grade, so I would definitely go up Craig Mountain this way the next time.

Looking in the direction I was headed across Razzberry towards the prominent gap in the middle of the ridge that would lead me to Razz Lake.

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The route down from Craig.

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The saddle between Craig and Razzberry.

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Traversing the slopes of Razzberry. (Matterhorn in the background.)

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A high meadow en route to the ridge. I decided to head up the slope to the left of the point in the middle of the ridge and see if I could go down to Razz that way.

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Nope! My first view of Lower Razz, straight down.

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I continued along the ridge towards a pinnacle people on here had discussed as the access down to Razz. From here the scrambling became a little more exciting, climbing over big granite blocks with some exposure.

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Looking back towards Craig Mountain (L) and Razzberry (R).

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I reached the notch next to the pinnacle in the ridge and found an easy descent through some trees over scree. At the bottom I crossed some big blocky talus and then ended up in more meadowier terrain. I followed a stream as it led down towards Lower Razz.

Looking back up at the pinnacle. The route descends from its right shoulder down the tree-covered hill below it.

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Voila! Lower Razz Lake!

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The pinnacle is in the upper left of this ridge, with the route again descending from its right shoulder down that tree covered hill below it, into the talus field.

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Looking down into the Lakes Basin at Horseshoe Lake. It was a really hazy day and the air on this side of the ridge smelled like forest fire smoke.

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I followed an inlet stream uphill towards Upper Razz.

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Upper Razz! It's extremely pretty and secluded.

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Shockingly, there were three guys at Upper Razz. They were all like, "No waaaayyyyy!" and I was like, "No waaaaayyyyy!" We hung out for a while and discussed how we got there (they'd come up the abandoned trail from Horseshoe Lake), cool places in Eagle Cap, etc. We also watched a mountain goat (the only one I saw all trip) climb up the vertical band of dark brown rock in the ridge above the lake. Those things are crazy.

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The weather also decided it was time to rain for five minutes, which it'd done the day before when I'd gotten to Ice Lake. Luckily it stopped pretty much immediately.

After gabbing for a while, it was time to get going back up over the ridge and back to camp. I made my way from Upper Razz over to the base of the notch route.

The talus field and the route up to the notch next to the pinnacle.

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Ascending back to the ridge was easy; getting down the other side turned out to be the most challenging part of the route. I'd decided that rather than retracing my steps across the flank of Razzberry and back to the base of Craig Mountain, I wanted to head straight down into a little bowl that held a lake I wanted to check out. However, from the notch, the only viable route was straight down an extremely steep and treacherous scree chute. Little avalanches that went all the way down to the bottom were released as I angled down it, and I quickly decided to hug the rock wall on the right and hang on for dear life as I tiptoed my way down. I had visions of losing my footing and tumbling all the way down to the bottom. Even once the loose and steep section was done, the descent was still steep on blocky talus. It was awful.

Looking back up the chute at the notch.

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However, the meadow and lake were nice.

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Looking back - I came from around the trees on the left.

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I followed the outlet creek from the lake and descended past a little waterfall.

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Then back to camp for a little swimming (brr!) and dinner. The scramble to Razz and back took me around 6 hours. I didn't have a GPS but WentHiking's map tool is measuring the route around 4.5 miles and 3250 ft, which I think is probably at least a little bit of an underestimate due to all the irregular climbing that doesn't show up on the map scale. I felt pretty tired after all that off trailing.
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Roughly drawn map of the Razz off trail route.
There were thoughts of trying to run up the Matterhorn after dinner for the sunset, but I wasn't feeling it, and the light was pretty bad what with the haze. However, the next morning turned out to be pretty much the most beautiful day possible - bright blue skies, no haze - so I made a split decision to skip breakfast and run up the Matterhorn before we left.

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What a good decision. Not only was it by far the best weather of the trip, but I'd forgotten how awesome the Matterhorn is. It's a steep climb, but the summit is super cool and rocky, and you basically feel on top of the world.

Looking north along the ridge, Sacajawea out left.

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Looking south. Eagle Cap is the tooth sticking out of the range in the back left.

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Self portraitude.

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After soaking it in for a bit, I ran back down to Ice Lake.

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It seemed prudent to again jump in the lake (brr!), then we packed up and slogged back down to the car.

Time for the traditional victory celebration at Terminal Gravity!

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And then the long drive home.
Will hike off trail for fun.

R11
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by R11 » August 23rd, 2012, 12:10 pm

Good work!


ron

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Chase
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by Chase » August 23rd, 2012, 1:16 pm

Bosterson never fails to impress!

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hlee
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by hlee » August 23rd, 2012, 6:55 pm

Some really stunning photographs! That first reflection shot is truly remarkable!

You look like you're on top of the world here (literally, not figuratively).

Hannah

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.
-- T.S. Eliot

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by Eric Peterson » August 23rd, 2012, 7:11 pm

Dudes, your my current favorite hero right now!! :)

justpeachy
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by justpeachy » August 23rd, 2012, 7:29 pm

Beautiful scenery! I was particularly interested to see your shots of Razz Lake. When we were at Horseshoe Lake on August 12 another backpacker asked us what our plans were and when we asked what his were he said he was headed to Razz Lake. I wasn't familiar with it but later I checked the topo map and saw that there was no trail to it and I figured he was just headed there cross-country. You mention an abandoned trail, though. There used to be a maintained trail between Horseshoe and Razz? I can't imagine why it would be abandoned because Razz looks like a pretty worthy side trip from Horseshoe Lake! Gorgeous!

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by Eric Peterson » August 23rd, 2012, 7:53 pm

There's a brand new forest fire about 50 to 75 miles north of Wallowa Lake called the Cache Creek
fire. That might be where your smoke was coming from, not sure how new that fire is but I
have been checking Inciweb every day for new fires over there since I'm heading that way
Tuesday and it wasn't listed yesterday but it's already 19,000 acres...

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Born2BBrad
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by Born2BBrad » August 23rd, 2012, 8:00 pm

Totally awesome Dude!

My wife does not like me reading these kind of TRs because they give me too many ideas :lol:

Seriously though, great report and well documented.

Brad
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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mayhem
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by mayhem » August 23rd, 2012, 9:12 pm

Cool stuff Bos!!

My favorite is the nubs soaking in the ... I hope freezing cold water!!! Bammmm!!
Shoe Shine Boy Has Left The Building!

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romann
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Re: Eagle Cap: Ice Lake to Razz Lake - 8/20-22/12

Post by romann » August 23rd, 2012, 9:43 pm

Wow, cool pics and trip. I really like the pictures of those lakes and rock scrambles. Ice Lake is really something I want to visit.

Kudos for continuing to Razz after seeing this:
first view of Lower Razz, straight down.
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