Mount Fernow + Copper Peak Ridge Traverse by Mount Maude / 費諾爾山

  • Reading time:7 mins read

Mount Fernow by Mount Maude is the highest point in the Entiat Mountains. It’s also the 11th tallest peak in Washington State. Together with Copper Peak and Seven-Fingered Jack, these Entiat giants form the backbone of the rugged Cascades.

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Copper Peak from Mount Fernow

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Mount Fernow and Copper Peak at a Glance

Copper Slam = Mount Fernow + Copper Peak
紅銅滿貫=費諾爾山+銅峯

Access: Phelps Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 24 miles
Elevation Range:  3520′ -9249′
Gear: helmet, rock & rope
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

The Preface of Mount Fernow and Copper Peak

I was grateful for terrific weather, optimal physical conditions, and new climbing partners this season. Then the late snowfall allowed me to visit Mount Fernow and Copper Peak. But the ridge traverse wasn’t exhausting like Ragged Ridge from last week.

This weekend’s forecast wasn’t ideal. But I still set my heart on climbing the two peaks. I wasn’t eager about no views on the first day. But on the other hand, I had looked forward to the stellar weather of day two.

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Approach to Mount Fernow

I slept at the trailhead the night before. Then the next morning, I hiked up to Leroy Basin under the partly cloudy sky. Seven Fingered Jack was just as impressive as I remembered. Shortly, I made my way down to Gloomy Basin from the notch.

Before long, clouds had obscured Mount Fernow. So then, I couldn’t see much past the waterfalls. Also, it was my first time camping without the pups. So I knew I was likely not alone on this mountain. But it was hard to shake the uncanny feeling.

Next up, 8200' basin
Next up, 8200′ basin

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In Search of the Access Keyhole

The west wind blew fiercely. Then I made my way up to the south ridge in weak visibility. But at one point, it became so unbearable that I ducked behind a big rock. Half an hour later, the gust showed no signs of stopping. So I moved again before losing more daylight.

The “keyhole” was just like how the reports described, with enough room for one person to crawl through. Oddly, the minute I went on the ridge, the wind speed significantly reduced. But the visibility was still weak. So I followed the cairns to lead the way. Soon, I was at the bottom of the summit.

The keyhole
The keyhole

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Mount Fernow Climb

Someone had built a bivy fort below the summit. I dropped off the overnight gear and then went up to the east ridge. The climb was straightforward. But the west wind started back up again at the top. So I moved to the east and waited 15 minutes. Then the gust died down for good.

I stayed until sunset. Slowly, clouds shifted downward and then formed a temperature inversion. It was one of nature’s most significant phenomena! So I saw some of the highest peaks before the clouds moved upward. Copper Peak looked bleak, especially in this weather.

Temperature inversion at sunset
Temperature inversion at sunset

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Summit Bivy

After sunset, I made my way back down to the bivy spot and ate dinner. The thought of spending the night alone (without the dogs) for the first time felt uneasy. Glad I had brought music to take my mind off horror movies and urban legends.

Shortly, a pika appeared from behind a pile of rocks as it hunted for dinner. Then it tried to chew through my bivy sack AND steal my food. But I was happy to have another living thing around to keep me company.

Good morning Entiat!
Good morning Entiat!

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A Glorious Morning in the Entiat

The following day, I woke up before sunrise to savor the morning colors. I finally saw Mount Maude and Seven-Fingered Jack out of the mist. Then after breakfast, I went up to Mount Fernow’s east summit.

From the top, I scoped out the two routes to Copper Peak using the two reports in hand. One climber climbed the peak via the receding glacier east of the connecting ridge. While the other traversed the crest itself.

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Scoping out the Route

I later spent an hour finding a way to go down to the glacier. But it turned out to be a total waste of time. So in the end, I resorted to the ridge route. It also looked more straightforward anyway.

The ridge traverse was also ideal as I had decided not to bring snow gear for this trip. But it’s more like I wanted to save weight. Also, staying high would, in turn, offer excellent views the entire time.

The mile-long ridge traverse to Copper Peak
The mile-long ridge traverse to Copper Peak

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Mount Fernow to Copper Peak Ridge Traverse

The mile-long ridge from Mount Fernow to Copper Peak looked intimidating at first. In one report, the climber did the reverse by coming in from Copper Peak. So I was confident that route finding wouldn’t pose an issue.

It was impossible not to constantly glance back at the jagged ridgeline while feeling the airiness at every turn. At one point, I had the full view of Holden Village. Right away, it reminded me of our trip to Bonanza Peak.

Holden Village
Holden Village

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Route Finding Fun

The traverse turned out quite enjoyable and thrilling. There was just a handful of class 4 moves, plus a couple of places I needed to rappel over the cliffs. But otherwise, it was smooth sailing.

On the 8500′ south notch, I contemplated going down into the east gully. So I could climb via the southeast face and the east ridge. Then I decided to continue on the ridgeline.

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Final Stretch from Mount Fernow to Copper Peak

Later I made my way up to the 8600′ shoulder via a sketchy gully. It turned out steeper with more loose rocks than I expected. But I worked on my breathing and looked for solid holds to avoid any mishaps.

Overall, it was a 3.5-hour intense and mentally fatiguing technical scramble. But at last, I made it up on top of Copper Peak. Woot! I felt a great sense of accomplishment as I looked around me.

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Mount Fernow from Copper Peak

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Copper Peak Summit Views

Soon, tears swelled up in my eyes. But it’s mainly from the feeling of gratitude for having made it up here “alive.” But now, I only needed to do it all again but in reverse to finish the climb!

Mount Fernow looked so much taller from here. Bonanza Peak and Buckskin Mountain were just a stone’s throw away. But dang, the summit register was missing a pen. Of course, I didn’t bring one just in case.

Summit exhaustion
Summit exhaustion

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Back to Mount Fernow and Out

There was plenty of daylight after sunset to get back to Gloomy Basin without using the headlamp. I had initially planned on hiking out to the car. But as soon as I noticed a pair of blinking eyes at dusk, I quickly changed my mind. Some animal was near the access notch over Leroy Basin. I prayed for what it was to stay put.

It was a moonlit night. And as I lay underneath the stars, I replayed images in my mind from the past two days of climbing. Hm, I wondered whether I could squeeze in another climb before snowfall.

Bonanza Peak
Bonanza Peak

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