Peak(s):  Copeland Mountain  -  13,176 feet
Ogalalla Peak  -  13,138 feet
Isolation Peak  -  13,118 feet
Mahana Peak - 12632
Date Posted:  10/14/2012
Date Climbed:   10/12/2012
Author:  Furthermore
 Intro to Wild Basin.   

Copeland Mountain 13,176
Ogalalla Peak 13,138
Isolation Peak 13,118
Mahana Peak 12,632

October 12, 2012
~20.1 Miles, ~7,400 Gain
TH: Wild Basin TH (2WD ~1.5-2 hours from Denver)


This trip is the result of plan C. Plan A was to climb some 13ers near Buena Vista but with the forecast being so poor with a high chance of precipitation and snow accumulation, we decided to do a a single 13er. Plan B, just Copeland Mountain. Plus I really didn't want to have to drive in the snow, yet.

I met Al at the Wild Basin trailhead around 4:30 AM and we were hiking up the, almost paved, trail by 4:40 AM. Having read a few reports on Copeland, I knew we wanted to limit our cross country bushwhacking time. Word on the street was that there was plenty of downed timber. Hiking on the trail towards Ouzel Lake was a novelty and we made good time. We left the trail ~.3 miles short of Ouzel Lake just after the Ouzel Lake trail splits from the Bluebird Lake trail and started our bushwhack.

Sunrise arriving.

As advertised, there was a respectable amount of downed timber gymnastics. Climbing out of treeline, we observed magnificent alpenglow on Alice and Longs. Once out of the trees, we hiked up a long mile of class 2 talus to the summit of Copeland where we arrived at 9:10 AM. The weather was beautiful with very few clouds and a very light breeze. A lull before the storm.

Jungle Gymnastics.

Alpenglow on Longs.

Alpenglow on Alice.

Al working his way up the east ridge on Copeland

Climbing up Copeland's east ridge. (Photo by Al)

Al climbing higher.

Nearing the summit of Copeland.

Al reaching the summit of Copeland.

Because we made such good time up Copeland and the weather was holding out great, we couldn't just climb one peak. Now for Plan C; the addition of Ogalalla and Isolation. Ogalalla Peak looked deceivingly close. Too close to pass up.

We descended off of Copeland's west ridge which started out as a class 2 hike. I knew the traverse to Ogalalla or Isolation wasn't going to be a walk in the park. A large prominent gendarme along the ridge blocked easy travel to Ogalalla's north ridge. From the Copeland-gendarme saddle, we dropped ~100-200 feet to the south from the ridge and skirted around the south side of the gendarme. Travel wasn't difficult but was time consuming due to loose rock.

Descending the west ridge on Copeland.

Skirting around the gendarme on Copeland's west ridge.

Skirting around the gendarme on Copeland's west ridge.

Once around the gendarme, we traversed back to the ridge crest but found a couple of short 10 foot drops that we had to bypass on the north side of the ridge. Bypassing these teeth to the south would require an additional 200 foot elevation loss. Supposedly on easier ground, we encountered the crux of the traverse which was gaining the north ridge of Ogalalla. During normal conditions this would require a short class 3 climb but the normal rock slabs were caked in ice and we had to resort to an iced up mud gully.

Ogalalla Peak from our traverse from Copeland.

Bypassing one of the small "teeth" at the end of Copeland's west ridge.

The last tooth on Copeland's west ridge.

Climbing up the frozen class 3 mud gully was rather interesting. Since we didn't have helmets (didn't anticipate continuing after Copeland), we had to climb the gully one at a time to avoid rock fall. Upward movement required grasping mud/rock that wasn't solid, slick, and covered in a layer of light unstable powder snow. Al mentioned he had at least two "O, F" moments while climbing up. This stupid 100-200 foot gully took us 30 minutes to ascend.

Al just about to have an "O F" moment.

Ogalalla's north ridge.

Al was relieved when we finally gained Ogalalla's north ridge. We ditched our packs and continued up Ogalalla's north ridge to the summit where we arrived at 11:55 AM. Things were starting to cloud up and some snow pellets fell from above. Investing all of this mileage to get this deep into Wild Basin wasn't going to go to waste and we decided that continuing onto Isolation Peak was doable.

At first, Al thought Ouzel Peak was Isolation Peak and was disappointed with the truth but he was a trooper and we continued onward. During our descent from the Ouzel's north ridge to the Ouzel-Isolation saddle, we had to bypass some small cliffs to the west side of the ridge. From the saddle it was a class 2 hike up to the summit where we arrived at 2:00 PM. The weather had engulfed us and was snowing pretty good.

Al traversing to Isolation Peak from Ogalalla.

View of Isolation on the west side of Ouzel Peak.

Copeland from near the Isolation-Ouzel saddle.

Isolation Peak.

Take a break near the Isolation-Ouzel saddle. (Photo by Al)

Small cliff on Ouzel's north ridge.

Al working his way up the south ridge of Isolation.

Our descent was slow due to the wet talus. Al didn't want to spend the time climbing a 12ver since we were over 7 miles away from the car so I bolted ahead to the Isolation-Mahana saddle. Once I reached the saddle, I climbed the steep class 2 talus west face of Mahana where I arrived at 3:00 PM. There was a short clearing in the weather.

Al descending Isolation.

I didn't spend much time on the summit of Mahana and I returned to the Isolation-Mahana saddle and then descended talus to Isolation Lake where I met with Al. Our decent to Bluebird Lake was wet as the snow turned into rain. Clouds engulfing the peaks around us was surreal.

Isolation Lake.

Clearing in the clouds.

Finally, we reached the trail at Bluebird Lake and make our long hike out of Wild Basin. Bluebird Lake was one of the more scenic lakes I have visited. Although raining, we made good time down the trail and reached the car at 6:50 PM. So much work for just "one" peak.

Me descending towards Isolation Lake.

Bluebird Lake.

Route Topo.

GPX from Al.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Comments or Questions
Awesome day
10/14/2012 20:50
I could see maybe hitting Ogalalla or Ouzel as extra credit from Copeland, but Ogalalla, Isolation and Mahana? Nice job guys!

great spot
10/15/2012 01:45
man you really went all out. HUUUUGE Day! nice job.

10/15/2012 01:50
...on a marathon hike. That B&W pic is killer, BTW!

10/15/2012 02:11
One of my favorite areas-nice to get a look at the mountains and ridgelines above it. Liked your shot of Bluebird-I was there two weeks ago being pelted by hail and it looked more like your pic of Isolation Lake.

for a second
10/15/2012 19:32
I thought you guys did this saturday and I felt like a sally for bailing on my plans. But then I noticed it was friday, which makes a lot more sense.

Thats a crapload of vert, nice work and thanks for the beta.

comment bump
10/16/2012 13:07
Plan C is a normal day for Derek.

Now I know it was Ouzel Peak...

I ordered new boots with tread after the gulley (Image #15) as I had bald soles before I started up there.

Things to take away from Plan C:
I have to take more water or a filter.
Always plan for more miles and vertical than Plan B.
Sure the weather is going to stay nice after Plan B...
I am not as young as I was even from last year...
Derek doesn't feel pain.

lordhelmut, yea the weather really was not too bad even Friday afternoon, no wind, wouldn't have been good Saturday.

Derek thanks for posting the report (ha the Bierstadt report got more comments until mine).

10/17/2012 02:27
contributing to the Bierstadt TR comment race.

10/17/2012 14:12
it was a heartwarming story though

07/29/2013 18:29
Image #15 looks really interesting/daunting.

Nice job, that's a hearty day!

very helpful
08/30/2022 09:57
Even 10 years later. We used your report to do the same loop, minus the 12ers.

A few notes for others using this later... We did this reverse direction after camping at Ouzel lake, so that the bushwhacking deadfall down Copelands east face would be easier. Getting to the Mahana/Isolation saddle is easy routefinding and no bushwhacking. Same with getting over to Ogalalla peak. Dropping down the Coney pass gully to access Copelands west ridge was slow, due to it being very loose and very easy to kick rocks. Once on Copelands west ridge, it was tedious sidehilling avoiding a lot of the teeth on the ridge, and took us MUCH longer then we thought. Coming down Copelands east face, we could see ahead of us and were able to utilize several narrow meadows to avoid deadfall. Its still a very slow descent, as its steep and near the bottom theres a lot of creeks, talus fields, and bushwhacking.

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