Steens Mountain

Fish Lake area in winter. And winter camping at the head of Kiger Gorge.

 

Steens Mountain has some of the best snow and most extensive high elevation terrain for cross country skiing in the Northwest. Here's Jim skiing in March at 7,600 feet a little above Fish Lake. Note the extensive aspen forests nearby, their white bark and twisted shapes beautiful to ski through at this season, and even more fantastic to revisit in their gold glory in October!

 

*These images compliments of my good friend Jim Whinston, who got them from Joe Warfel. Jim appears in both images. Jim was a talented guy who loved to design and make his own gear; he was very handy with a sewing machine; maybe having sisters was the source of his sewing skills?

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Joe Warfel's own words about the group's 1974 West-to-East traverse of Steens Mountain under winter conditions:

"We traveled west to east or however one might describe the direction. Started from French Glen [4200 ft] up the summit road till too muddy to drive. We had several people in the group van (Outdoor Program Van) who were to drop us off for the ski, then meet us about a week later on the east side of the Steens at the edge of Alvord desert.'

"Our ski group had to walk on the muddy road for awhile until enough snow allowed skiing. I have a photo of myself all geared up with good old Kelty external frame pack with skis on top walking in mud! We more or less followed the road to Fish Lake [7400 ft] and made camp. Played around on the ridges above the lake (one member broke a ski on a ski "jump" we made. Epoxied the broken tail (pheonolic base) and continued.

"Next camp I remember was at head of Kiger Gorge [8940 ft.. see picture above]. What a view! Then onto the summit, dropping down to cirque just below summit but above Wildhorse Lake [8500 ft] (down in Wildhorse Canyon). We spent a two or three days climbing/skiing around the camp till finally skiing down Wildhorse low enough till we again couldn't ski anymore. Walked out over what I remember as Strawhat Pass to the east side of Steens eventually to the edge of playa [4000 ft] meeting the van with the rest of our party. Drove north up Alvord to Mosquito creek canyon, made camp for a night then drove back to Eugene the next day."

Here's Jim ski-jumping above the hard-frozen Fish Lake (7400 ft.), site of the group's first camp during their 1974 West-to-East traverse of Steens Mountain.

 

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Page last revised 3/02/2017