On Saturday, September 21, I drove to Mickey Hot Springs, just north of the Alvord Desert east of Steens Mountain. Mickey Butte has only 6294 feet of elevation, but is the 80th most prominent peak in Oregon with 1934 feet of clean topographic prominence.
Saturday afternoon I met Michael and John for a climb of Mickey Butte the next day. This is a rather remote area and I was glad to have a couple of experienced and capable peakbaggers with me.
Sunday morning we left Mickey Hot Springs and hiked north across the desert and entered the south gully of Mickey Butte. John and I decided to climb the slope just left of the gully bottom where we thought the footing would be good and the sidehilling less steep than on the right.
Michael took the direct approach up the gully bottom. Soon Michael encountered a dry waterfall where the rock appeared to be stable, but a large rock broke as he climbed it and it injured his left lower leg. Michael caught up with me as I was taking photographs and I saw his bleeding injury. Michael would not be denied the summit and he continued climbing the route with me.
Before reaching the Mickey Butte/Peak 6275 saddle we climbed up to the right to reach the south ridge of Mickey Butte and followed it to the summit. John had reached the summit about half an hour ahead of us.
We pooled our first aid kits and cleaned and bandaged Michael’s leg injury. It was good practice and a check that we carry adequate supplies for minor injuries.
The sky was mostly clear and the temperature was moderate. The summit was a little windy but the views were excellent. I enjoyed identifying many prominent and remote peaks I have visited, especially the Pueblo Mountains to the south, Mahogany Mountain to the east, and the Sheepshead Mountains to the north.
Steens Mountain rose above us to the west. Curiously, in such remote country we all had 4G cell service, apparently because of cell tower(s) on the Steens Mountain summit. I texted photos to a friend and to Linda.
From Mickey Butte we descended southwest to the Mickey Butte/Peak 6275 saddle, then walked across open and easy terrain to reach the summit of Peak 6275. I enjoyed the views here as well.
At the summit I noticed curious bowl-shaped basalt rocks lying on the ground and apparently hollow domes protruding from the surface. Some sounded hollow when I tapped them with my poles. I speculate these domes were formed by gas bubbles during the eruption.
From Peak 6275 we returned to the south gully and descended back to the desert floor and our vehicles. I descended carefully favoring my right leg (which has been bothering me this summer) and taking a few photos. I eventually lagged far behind the others, but I saw them pause periodically to check that I was still descending.
I lingered at the hot springs after John and Michael left to observe and photograph fumeroles and bubbling pools. Heavy, dark clouds were building to the west and it was time to head for home.