Peak(s):  Copeland Mtn  -  13,176 feet
Ogalalla Pk  -  13,138 feet
Elk Tooth - 12868
Date Posted:  10/02/2014
Date Climbed:   09/20/2014
Author:  FireOnTheMountain
Additional Members:   goingup
 Copeland to Elk Tooth - A Wild Basin Leisure Stroll  

I'm beginning to wonder if there are any short trips to be had in RMNP's Wild Basin. My last two outings both began at the winter TH going for Isolation Peak and were 12+ hour days covering 20 some odd miles done as "daytrips" in full winter conditions, metal clown shoes and all. For this go around, I figured Isolation 2x would satiate any sadist's appetite and that I'd enjoy a nice leisure stroll up to Ouzel Lake, or the like.

The "leisure stroll" began at 5:45am and wouldn't end until 14 hours later....Ouzel lake turned into Copeland, which turned into Ogalalla which led to Elk Tooth. Insert the great theologian and philosopher Homer J's "Do'H!" here. But hey, as an improvement, at least we got to start from the summer TH.

A nice jog up to Ouzel Lake on the Bluebird Lake Trail complete with marshy bogs, changing leaves and stellar sunrise views ended all too soon and we found ourselves bush wacking (nothing crazy) up from the lake towards Copeland's mellow yet cut-to-the-chase east ridge (3100' in 1.6mi from lake).

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Ouzel Lake Below

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Other than Kay's larger than life shoes causing her distress, the slog up Copeland went uneventfully and we soon found ourselves on the summit soaking in the peachy views of Longs' southwest face and the IPW. Copeland's drawn out west ridge was next up and would offer some optional class 3 and 4 which for the sake of the moment had to be done.

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What Lies in Store - Elk Tooth Left, Ogalalla Right

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Bumps

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No TV and no beer make Homer something, something.

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The 1.25mi ridge dropped us to the saddle before the headwall up to Cony Pass and the Continental Divide. We wrapped around the right side of the headwall to a mellow gully which offered some nice scrambling if one were so inclined.

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Wrapped around right side in the shadows, Left side looked like it had some interesting weaknesses though!

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Once at Cony, we decided Ouzel Peak was the lamest 12er we had ever seen in our life (very minimal vert to an unappealing point) and instead headed left to the much more asthetic Ogalalla. The weather was absolutely delightful and dare I say hot so there was much clowing on around on summits which came in the form of me going through the registers meticulously and Kay doing her signature summit frolics.

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Making our way to Elk Tooth, we quickly found ourselves on some sweet slabs where it was best not to mess up. A couple large cliffbands of note were encountered as we made our way to the saddle before Elky. The first could be downclimbed pretty straightforward near ridge proper however the 2nd was far more formidable and required dropping to the right for some distance to find a way around.

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View from Below the Formidable 2nd Headwall

The climb up Elk Tooth entailed some quality scrambling on not too bad of rock. Again we messed around on the summit and then began our talus descent down to Hutcheson Lake. The descent went rough for Kay but she pulled through as she always does.

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Hot 12er Action, Stay Ridge Proper

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Despite the long day and 8 miles to the car, something about this de-proach made it one of my favorites of all time. We located the trail about 0.75mi down from Hutcheson lake (not before Kay decided the fastest way around a small lake was through it) and jogged down to Pear then onto Finich along the Finch Lake Trail taking in the serene setting along the way. At the trail junction 2 miles from Finch we hung a left towards Calypso Cascades. This section of trail was simply awesome. Great single track on the side of the mountain and probably the highlight of the trip for me watching the sun set on Longs after the big day.

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Stats on the Ride:
7300'
17.5 miles

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However long or short your outing is in Wild Basin, I've come to the conclusion that you just can't go wrong.

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Tread Lightly My Friends



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


 Comments or Questions
dillonsarnelli

I've been waiting for this TR!
10/02/2014 15:39
Kay, I still can't believe you did this without me! This has been on my short list for 2 years. Let me know when you're going back.


moneymike

...go crazy?
10/02/2014 21:31
Don't mind if I do.


MtnHub

Super!!
10/02/2014 22:19
Great job, guys! That's a hefty elevation day! Yeah, the Wild Basin is pretty wild. Long approaches but worth the grind! Nice report, Abe!


Kylie

nice!
10/03/2014 01:28
That's a long day! The GPS track looks like a tree! Kay, I'm self conscious about my feet too!


Monster5

Yea yeah
10/03/2014 02:02
Lady of the Night.

JK I read it and it was good. You done good. Nice helmet on the scramble. We need to talk about that.


goingup

~~~~
10/03/2014 02:35
Abe~~~ You did good, you did good, even if it took nearly two weeks to write. I am glad you have finally documented one of our fabulous outings. Thank you for nicely glossing over my full on Elk Tooth descent tantrum. Also I love the controversial ass shot. Very necessary.

Kylie~~~ I actually bought new trail runners (exactly like the trail runners I ran every mountain with this summer). I decided to go up half a size to give my feet more room...biggest mistake of my life. It was seriously like I had clown shoes on. You should see what my feet and toenails looked like at the end of the day. Lesson learned!

Dillon~~ I will go back and live in wild basin, be the creepy girl hanging out under the bridges. You will need to pay me a toll to pass.


Chicago Transplant

Fun Route
10/03/2014 19:50
We did this loop a couple of years ago, that Copeland-Elk Tooth traverse was the highlight of the day, I really liked that slope ramp in image 16, kind of Gore-y 8)

So does this mean the bridge by Ouzel Falls is back? It washed out last year and was still not there in June when I climbed Isolation.


FireOnTheMountain

re Chi
10/03/2014 20:14
Bridge is still out actually. Funny cause when I was up there last December an inordiante amount of snow covered all that carnage.

Ya should of given Knapp some street cred, we did same loop as you guys.


mtnfiend

Fun Looking Loop
10/06/2014 15:46
Thanks for a fun read and another climb to add to the list!



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