Ascent of Copper Mountain on 2018-11-07

Climber: Robert Jenner

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Copper Mountain
    Elevation:5425 ft / 1653 m

Ascent Trip Report

This narrative is meant to add more detail to the GPS track included with this trip report. To begin, I took the route from Wagonwheel Lake to the north side of Copper Mountain. Other trip reports clearly describe the avalanche chute on the south side of the lake where the scramble begins. The chute is steep but mostly clear of brush and easy to get through. The Devil's Club, described elsewhere, is in small clumps confined to the fringes and, at this time of year, all the leaves have fallen. I climbed to the top of the chute, then cut climber's left to punch through a thin band of young conifers to a small ridge where I was pleased to find a large grassy area with an open stream gully beyond.

My GPS track diverges at this point. The western track which stays high in the gully is the way to go, even though it's strewn with logs and debris that require zigzagging through. Beyond this gully, I entered a steep, forested slope with little underbrush. This section calls for a gently climbing traverse. I encounted occasional use trails and sporadic flagging here and there, but nothing consistent. It took about 20-30 minutes to get though and bushwhacking was minimal.

The forested section gives way to the first glimpse of several wide open basins and the north side of Copper Mountain. A waypoint for this location on the GPS track is labeled "Faint trail and flags here". The basin was strewn with large boulders covered in frost, but no snow. I shifted into boulder-hopping mode and made my way across the basin to a slight notch on the opposite side where another larger basin lies beyond. The GPS track shows a detour I made to the saddle between the north and west peak to determine if a way to the main (west) peak was feasible. It's not. I should note here that the east peak from this vantage point looks more massive and slightly higher that the actual summit marked on topo maps. It's actually lower.

As viewed from the top of the talus slope directly under the main peak, the Copper Mountain summit is flanked by obvious saddles on each side. Some trip reports suggest ascending to the right saddle, but because the terrain leading to the left saddle was more open to inspection and a shorter climb, I took this path both coming and going. I would deem the climb to the saddle and the final push to the summit block as the crux. Once atop the saddle I made my way slightly south to a small notch, then traversed the southwestern side of the summit block on solid rock to the needle-like summit. A summit register in an 1-1/2 PVC pipe is nestled in the rocks. Views are phenomenal.

I didn't linger long because clouds rolling produced a chill and had an uncomfortably disorientating effect. As often the case, the return trip to the lake seemed much easier, and the trail back to Staircase was like a stroll in the park. Stats are 7.5 miles round trip and about 4500' elevation gain.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12.1 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, scattered clouds, frost on ground
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:Trail to Wagonwheel Lake, approach from north
    Start Trailhead:Wagonwheel Lake trailhead at Staircase  925 ft / 281 m
    Time:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    End Trailhead:Wagonwheel Lake trailhead at Staircase  925 ft / 281 m
    Time:4 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Robert Jenner
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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