Ascent of Mount Fernow on 2015-07-30

Climber: Sean Albert

Date:Thursday, July 30, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Fernow
    Elevation:9249 ft / 2819 m

Ascent Trip Report

Wednesday evening Albert and I drove up to the Phelps TH after making a stop for Italian food in Monroe, so we could get an early start on Thursday morning. The plan was to do Fernow and Copper in a day and a half or two days, we'd carry all our gear and see how far we could make it by dark.

Thursday morning we were on the trail at 4:50 am. Once we reached the camps in Leroy Basin we ventured off trail through the meadows and headed for the saddle to the West of 7FJ. Just below the ridge/saddle, we found cairns leading off to the left (boot path leading to the ridge) and the two large cairns on the ridge marking the easiest way down the other side towards the tarn. We reached the saddle at 8:10 am. Dropping down from the ridge we traversed NE to the spur ridge East of the tarn (which looked bigger than it seemed in photos), we avoided the snow here but it was loose. We descended scree, talus, and boulders to the basin the basin below the Gloomy Glacier and then up climbers right of the falls to the 7000 ft. bivy basin (9:10am). The 7000 ft. bivy had plenty of water and a permanent snow patch so water can be found there even during the driest part of the summer. From the 7000 ft. flat area we ascended on the right side of the falls (maybe 50 yards climbers right) past trees and heather and then crossed the falls to reach blocky slabs/steps up into the upper basin (8400-8600). Once in the upper basin we ascended up snow to where we could see the chock stone gully on Fernow's South ridge. Up through the gully we then traversed ramps Easterly over a rib around to a large gully/face under the summit/East ridge and found a class 3 way to the summit. We made the top of Fernow at 11:20am. At this point we had views of all the smoke from the Wolverine fire, which was really starting to grow at this point in August.

We didn't stay on top long and headed down the South side of the East ridge to look at Fernow's East glacier. Folks had been using the glacier the last few years as a short cut to get to Copper, but it looked a little to dicey for me, so we continued down the ridge until we found an easy way off the ridge. We ended up dropping under the glacier by traversing talus at 6900 ft. Albert slipped and cut his leg pretty bad on the traverse so he decided to wait while I continued on to climb Copper. We found a bivy spot in some trees around 6700ft. directly East of the glacier with lots of water from it. It was 2:30pm and after some discussion I figured I had enough time climb Copper and return. I crossed below the glacier and up the gully to the saddle just East of pt. 8284, there was a goat heading up the gully in front of me so I figured I must be the right spot. Looking back at the glacier and overhanging ice on wet slabs I was glad we decided NOT to try it. Once I reached the saddle East of pt. 8284 I could see I still had a long ways to go. I descended steep snow down to the Copper glacier which was a little more broken up than I expected, no fall zone here by myself. I looked down at Holden and the mine remediation work, also towards Lake Chelan and the increasing smoke, and cursed how much easier this approach would have been, oh well makes for a better story... After finding a way up onto the ridge directly East of Copper I made my way over to the NE ridge and had my first views of the final part of the route to the summit. I went up the blocky ridge past one interesting 4th class notch/move, mostly on the North side of the ridge (except on the return I found an "easier" way past the notch on the South side of the ridge two cairns marked the entrance/exit for the bypass) up to the summit of Copper at 5pm. On the way up I was looking West directly into the sun which seemed to perfectly hover above the ridge/summit as I tried to route find up the ridge. This was annoying the shit out of me at this point in my day. I was pretty worked by this point so I ate some food and headed down, didn't really take any photos. It must have been around 10,000 vertical feet for the day, mostly with overnight gear. I headed back the way I came and made it back to the bivy and Albert around 7:30pm. Ready for some food and sleep.

Friday morning we started hiking at 5:45am trying to beat the heat. We reached the 7000 ft. bivy at 10:00am and pumped some water. Up and over the choss ridge above the tarn, descending into Leroy basin was like climbing into a convection oven and we quickly headed for the shade of the forest. We bumped into two guys volunteering to carry a back country toilet up to Ice Lakes so rangers could later install it there, thanks guys! We reached the TH at 2:45pm. I introduced Albert to the 59er dinner on the way home.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:7569 ft / 2307 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1800 ft / 548 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:7569 ft / 2307 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5769 ft / 1759 m; Extra: 1800 ft / 548m
    Loss on way in:1800 ft / 548 m
    Start Trailhead:3480 ft / 1060 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Sean Albert
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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.

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