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| | |-+  Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
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Author Topic: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR  (Read 2290 times)
PhilH
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Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« on: 01/28/16, 07:33 PM »

Seven of us spent 4 days skiing McCully Basin in the Wallowa Mountains just south of Joseph, OR. McCully Basin is in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. Our home away from home for the trip was 2 sleeping yurts and a kitchen yurt operated by Wallowa Alpine Huts. The first day we hired a guide to take us into the yurts and get us acquainted with the area. The rest of the trip we were on our own. From the trailhead to the yurt is 6 miles and 2,300’ elevation gain. Fortunately we got a snowmobile “bump” the first 2 miles and 500’ elevation, which left us to skin the remaining 4 miles and 1,800’.

On day 1 the weather was warm and the snow was mush potatoes, which was rapidly turning to a breakable crust as we gained elevation. (The yurts are at 7,500’).  Our guide told us not to worry - the snow is always good in McCully Basin. This became our rallying cry for the rest of the trip. “Tom says ‘the snow is always good in McCully Basin!’” As he left Tom added a caveat “…if you’re patient.”

Undeterred by the crust on the first day, we headed farther up and farther into the basin. Did I also mention the wind was blowing? Howling is a better word, swirling too. But we found a sheltered drainage with soft snow and did laps until dark. Lots of hootin and hollerin in the trees. 

Here’s the deal – Tom was right. Despite the marginal conditions – snowing, blowing and temps a little warmer than ideal, every day we found soft snow to ski. The terrain in McCully Basin offered us an endless variety of treed runs, sheltered drainages and protected slopes. We lusted after the big lines above us, but they weren't to be on this trip.

On the morning of our last day we woke up to colder temps, blue skies and 4” of fresh pow. We only had time for a quick run so we skinned up a glacial moraine to a place the guide had pointed out called “The Golf Course” because the runs through the trees look like fairways. Our last run of the trip was skiing dreamy pow on the 18th fairway.

I’d go back to McCully Basin in a heartbeat. 

Pic 1: Stormy day 2
Pic 2: Ripping skins


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PhilH
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #1 on: 01/28/16, 07:36 PM »

More pics from McCully Basin

Pic 3: Finally a sun break
Pic 4: 18th fairway


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PhilH
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #2 on: 01/28/16, 07:38 PM »

Last 2 pics from McCully Basin

Pic 6: Cascadian Kim doing a little recon
Pic 7: Tree harvesting


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Jim Oker
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #3 on: 01/29/16, 12:03 AM »

It's a beautiful spot. You do have to go back and get up on the ridges and peaks above the basin if you weren't able to get up there on this trip. I found it especially cool when we were in the sun above the ice fog down below. It doesn't suck to have a guide with you for the whole time either! Their Norway Basin camp is a great location too - somewhat different feel and some gnarlier lines too (potentially even more of an argument to have them there with you to maximize options).

Was there a sauna yurt?
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PhilH
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #4 on: 01/29/16, 03:38 AM »

Yes, there was a sauna yurt but there was stuff being stored in it so we didn't fire it up.
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Jim Oker
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #5 on: 01/29/16, 09:05 AM »

Bummer, the sauna yurt is good clean fun (we'll maybe the yurt isn't that clean, but you will be after using it)!

Another recommendation for doing those yurt trips is sledding up a pony keg of some good TG suds! Or go catered and let them do it as part of the package  Grin.
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aaron_wright
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #6 on: 01/29/16, 09:19 AM »

The fully catered/hosted trip is really a bargain.

That moraine in the background of the first pic is called "Cow's Face". The last few pics are just above and in what they call "Hot Beverage Glades".

I really like McCully because of the varied terrain. Been twice where stability was bad and had great glade and meadow skiing off the moraines. Another time in March and with good stability we were able to ski from a lot of the high points along the rim of the basin. The snow is almost always good. Even in the third week of March with fairly warm temps there was good cold snow on the steeper north facing stuff even though it was breakable crust in the flats.
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PhilH
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #7 on: 01/29/16, 10:00 AM »

Your're right, Jim, we probably should have worked a little harder at getting the sauna up and running. Rookie mistake. We had a porter carry in food (and maybe a little wine) so we ate like kings.

Aaron, we skied a number of laps on "Cow's Face" on days 2 and 3 because the snow was excellent (and stable). I'm sure you're correct about "Hot Beverage Glades."  The guide waved his hand in that general direction and mentioned the "Golf Course" so I just made an assumption that's where we were.

After I got home I looked at our GPS track and realized how much terrain we DIDN'T see. I'm looking forward to going back.
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PhilH
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #8 on: 01/29/16, 03:35 PM »

Caption for one last picture: Don't believe everything you read in the outfitters brochure and always bring your own corkscrew. A screw driver and butter knife can open a bottle of port but it's easier if you come prepared.


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Jim Oker
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Re: Jan 21-24, 2016 McCully Basin, Wallowa Mtns OR
« Reply #9 on: 01/29/16, 09:50 PM »

Yurtnicks!!
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