Red Mountain Summit

By Brian Sather — updated Sun, 10/23/2011 - 11:19 PM, created Sun, 10/23/2011 - 9:56 PM

8.4 miles (13.518 km)

Elevation Gain:
7108.97 ft. (2166.81 m)
Elevation Loss:
-2193.56 ft. (-668.6 m)

Max Altitude:
9576.77 ft. (2919 m)
Min Altitude:
4526.35 ft. (1379.63 m)
Climbing Red Mountain is a rugged and long trek that rewards climbers with a 9,560 foot summit that is the highest point in Baker County, Oregon (14th highest in Oregon). The climb requires no special technical skill, other then good footwork and balance to navigate hundreds of vertical feet of crumbling red rock. The Kettle Creek Trail #1945 from East Eagle is not heavily used but is in good condition. It contains an endless series of switchbacks climbing 3,066 feet in 5.6 miles at a 10% average gradient. The trail eventually arrives at a saddle where it levels out and passes a few ponds before arriving at Crater Lake. At this point, the Red Mountain summit is in full view. Soon, it is a matter of sighting an ascent line and going for the summit. Most any route up the talus slope to the summit ridge is climbable. In the end, 5,844 feet of climbing in about 9 miles is required to reach the summit from East Eagle trailhead. Crater Lake offers a good camp location for a less-ambitious summit day. Regulations: A free wilderness permit needs to be filled out at the trailhead but otherwise there are no restrictions. A Northwest Forest Pass is not required at the parking area. Trail Notes
  • From the East Eagle Trailhead take the trail about 1/2 mile to the junction for Kettle Creek Trail 1945. Follow this trail to the right going up the mountain.
  • After Crater Lake, arrive at the junction with Trail 1885 (to Summit Point Trailhead). From here continue off trail straight up the mountain, staying on high ground. There is some game trail or perhaps a climbers trail that follows a creek.
  • There are a couple of plateaus before arriving at the scree and talus that is Red Mountain. Look for the Red Mountain summit to the left and sight down the consistent ridge to the right, aiming for the low point on this ridge. There are elevated mounds of rock along the spine to the right. Do not climb to the right of either of these prominent points, because starting the ridge climb on the wrong side of these is not recommended due to the exposure on the other side and steep and crumbling rock on the ridge.
  • Scramble up the shale to the saddle and begin working up the ridge to the summit.
  • The ridge is very rocky, but offers good consistent travel to the summit. The north side of the mountain is not as steep as the south side, so it offers relief if exposure is a problem.
Contributors: Brian Bartel & Marshall Baxter

    Red Mountain in the distance, as seen from the saddle on the Kettle Creek Trail
    The Kettle Creek Trail below, as seen from the first saddle.
    Following a rough trail along a creek on the base of Red Mountain
    On the ridge nearing the summit
    Looking down at the Imnaha drainage from the summit.