Peak(s):  Isolation Pk  -  13,118 feet
Mahana Peak - 12,632 feet
Post Date:  10/25/2011
Modified:  08/13/2013
Date Climbed:   10/23/2011
Posted By:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   Brian Thomas

 Battling Banshies in Isolation      

Isolation & Mahana Peak

Trailhead: Wild Basin (8,560')
Camp: Upper Ouzel Creek (10,600')
Mileage: 17.2
Elevation Gain: 5,358'
Banshee Fighters: Darrin, Brian & me

When Brian sent out an invite to backpack and hike a peak in RMNP, I thought it would be a great way to investigate a new area along the continental divide. Plus the annoying work of acquiring the backcountry permit was all done. So with a great weather window for the weekend, we were a go!

The approach to camp was a long one, but it was punctuated by some lovely views of cascading water over rocks, tourists amusing comments ("I see you have an oxygen hose" Ummm yeah... that's water), and some amazing views of Wild Basin.

Copeland Falls

Calypso Cascades

Admiring the views - Photo Credit: Brian
Ouzel Falls

Tanima and Mt Alice

Ouzel Peak dominates the approach

Where's the camp? There's snow on the ground now...

Campsite, with Copeland in background

Day 2: The wind that never ceased

Having forgotten my ear plugs, the howling wind that sounded like a freight train approaching, created some strange dreams when I could fall asleep for those short moments. Bears, mumbling Park Rangers outside the tent, were some that I could remember. The morning wasn't too terribly cold, but the howling wind above was a reminder of how cold it would be once we were exposed to that.

On the way up to to the first lake, we were stepping on vast areas of ice crystals with dirt specs on the tops of the ice. Very strange, and kinda pretty. Verglace was on many of the rock surfaces from the previous days melt freeze cycles. The wind started in full force once we topped the rocks surrounding Bluebird Lake. From here we made our way over an ice encrusted dam to the other side of the lake. There is a nice crack in the rock wall that allows access, you just need to look for it.

Weird dirt ice crystals everywhere!

Warm sunrise on the slopes of Meeker

Bluebird lake - Sun is just starting to hit the tops of the peaks

The crack - Photo Credit: Brian

Once beyond Bluebird, there's a series of benches on the way up to Isolation Lake. We took a slightly different way up than down, but all involved some bush-whacking to get above Bluebird. From there the views were amazing, and Ouzel Peak was the eye candy of the day.

Shadow puppets

Either Lark Pond or Pipit Lake in front of Ouzel

The views were intoxicating, if you can't tell

We took a break and geared up for more wind next to Isolation Lake. We knew the assault on Isolation would be windy and cold, and we wouldn't want to stop later. The time on the peak would be as brief as possible.


Couldn't tear my eyes away from Ouzel Peak, maybe it's those ski lines I keep seeing

The brief views from the very Airy summit of Isolation... Looking over the west edge of the summit rocks was enough to make me shrink back. Howling winds and a 500' drop!

From Isolation to Longs

Looking south from Isolation

As those before us experienced... to Mahana or not to Mahana, that was the question. The answer: Mahana's summit was a brief 15 minute hike away, don't miss it! The views from the summit were much better, and the wind was less fierce.

On to Mahana!

Isolation from Mahana

Longs and Meeker

Tanima, Mt Alice, Chiefs Head, Pagoda, Longs and Meeker

Once done with the summits for the day, we made quick work of the descent to camp and to the trail head. We all had visions of post-hike food and beer/margaritas! Of course I got distracted by the garnets in the rocks along the Bluebird Lake, as well as the other sights, but only briefly.

Ouzel and Isolation Lake, again. Best view of the day, other than Longs

Icy shores of Bluebird Lake

The crack allowing access to the north side of the lake and beyond

There be garnets in these parts! I call them Jupiter rocks

Giant boulders on the trail

Parting shot of Calypso Cascades

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Download GPX file cannot be downloaded (per author)

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Incredible area.     10/25/2011 20:25
Thanks for posting on Bluebird Lake. Way to take advantage of the Indian Summer.


Your TR on Isolation/Mahana     07/29/2013 18:29
kicks my report's a*s. Nice job!


Wow!!     10/25/2011 22:23
What a GREAT TR, Otina! My ”to-climb” list just keeps getting longer and longer thanks to your fine reports!


awesome pictures!!!     10/25/2011 22:50
And great TR!!

Brian Thomas

to Mahana or not to Mahana?     10/25/2011 23:56
YES to Mahana! Thanks for joining for this trip and for writing up the TR

Kevin Baker

Nice     10/26/2011 00:54
Nice outing, guys! It brought back fond memories. Isolation truly lives up to its name. Hard to believe it's in RMNP with the lack of people! Glad you got Mahana too. I did it first so I wouldn't be tempted to skip it! Great pics as always, Otina.


Thanks Everyone!     10/27/2011 16:14
49ersRule - Considering you wrote your TR back in 2008...

Jay521 - Always happy to lengthen ”to-climb” lists!

Mahana - There was never any question in MY mind... just other non bump humpers in the group


Holy crap!     10/27/2011 20:34
Darin smiling in a photograph ... ... tell me it ain't so! Obviously, he must have had his mind on other things. 8) Thanks for giving me yet another peak to climb in RMNP (one of these days). Happy trails!


Awesome TR!     10/31/2011 18:27
I enjoyed the pictures, nicely done! These peaks aren't climbed often....way cooler than doing a 14er!!

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