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This is a wilderness backpack and climb into Steens mountain via Indian Gorge. You need to be an experienced backpacker and scrambler. We will not be using ropes or technical climbing gear except helmets.
Steens Mountain is in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Oregon, and is a large fault-block mountain, Located in Harney County, it stretches some 50 miles (80 km) north to south, and rises from alongside the Alvord Desert at elevation of about 4,200 feet (1,300 m) to a summit elevation of 9,733 feet (2,967 m). It is sometimes confused with a mountain range but is properly a single mountain.
Hike into the South Steens Campground and go past a large group campsite parking area. Will come to a gate with a sign-in sheet and postings from rangers (warning of rattlesnakes etc.). Continue hiking on an old Jeep road till the first river crossing (no bridge, it's knee deep and about 30 feet wide). At this point, the 'road' turns into a trail. You'll cross the river/stream two more times within a mile (don't bother removing your Tevas). Continue on the trail as it enters the Big Indian Gorge. As the trail turns east (following the turn in the gorge), you'll see a "wall' in the distance - what appears to be the end of the gorge. This is your goal. The highest point you see on this "wall" ahead is not the summit of Steens though (true summit lies to the south or your right of this highest visible point). As you approach the wall, the trail disappears in a meadow and the going is x-country from there on - can't mess up, just stay on the left bank of the main stream in the Gorge and keep heading towards Steens. Near this apparent end of the gorge, you'll see that the gorge actually turns south (right). Make that turn staying on the left bank of the main stream. Ahead of you (to the south) lies a scramble. Aim for what appears to be an eroded rock pinnacle at the center but turn left directly below it and continue going up. Your destination will become clearer as you climb. You'll come up to a nice basin with an obvious saddle visible to the south - go up it. From the saddle you'll see a small lake (Little Wild Horse Lk.). Turn left and climb up the rock ridge. Once on top, you'll get your fist glimpse of the radio-antenae-clad true summit of Steens and Wild Horse Lake. Traverse top of this ridge till you hit the dirt summit road (open to cars when snow-free).
Descend either same way, via the road (probably the fastest and safe if you're running out of daylight), or via Little Blitzen Gorge (D. Lorain's recommendation). The road is quite scenic, but the cars and esp. the resulting dust clouds at lower elevations take away from the beauty of the hike.
|Grad Preference||BCEP, ICS|