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

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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 health, and new partners this season. Then the late snowfall allowed me to visit Mount Fernow and Copper Peak. Overall, the ridge felt smoother than last week’s Ragged Ridge high traverse.

The weekend’s forecast wasn’t ideal, but I had set it aside to climb the two peaks. I wasn’t eager about potentially having no views on day one. But on the other hand, I looked forward to the stellar weather of day two.

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En Route to Mount Fernow

After a night at the trailhead, the following day, I hiked up to Leroy Basin under the partly cloudy sky. Seven Fingered Jack was just as stunning as I remembered. Shortly, I made my way down to Gloomy Basin from the notch.

Soon, clouds obscured Mount Fernow, so there’s not much to see past the waterfalls. It was my first time camping without the pups. But the fact I knew I was likely not alone on this mountain was uncanny.

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

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In Search of Access Keyhole

I made my way up to the south ridge in the fierce west wind. At one point, it became unbearable that I ducked behind a big rock. But the gust persisted after another half an hour, so I continued before losing more daylight.

The “keyhole” mentioned in reports had enough room for one person. Oddly, the minute I went on the ridge, the wind reduced considerably. But the visibility was still weak. So I followed the cairns to the bottom of the summit.

The keyhole
The keyhole

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Mount Fernow Climb

Someone had built a bivy fort below the top. I dropped off the overnight gear and then went up to the east ridge. Soon, the west wind started back up again. So I moved to the east and waited 15 minutes before it died down for good.

I stayed until sunset as clouds shifted into an inversion. It was one of nature’s most significant phenomena! But I only had a brief window to see other peaks before the clouds moved upward. Meanwhile, Copper Peak looked incredibly bleak.

Temperature inversion at sunset
Temperature inversion at sunset

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Summit Bivy

After sunset, I went down to the bivy spot and ate dinner. The thought of spending the night alone without the dogs felt uneasy. Glad I had brought music to take my mind off horror flicks 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 it 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 vibrant morning colors. At last, Mount Maude and Seven-Fingered Jack were out of the mists. Then after breakfast, I went up to Mount Fernow’s east peak.

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 on the east. Then the other person traversed the crest itself.

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Exploring the Route

I later spent an hour looking to go onto the glacier. But it ended up being a complete waste of time. So, in the end, I resorted to the ridge route, which looked more straightforward anyway.

The ridge traverse was also ideal as I decided to leave the snow gear behind. But it’s more like wanting to go lighter. In turn, staying high would also 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 had come from Copper Peak. So it was reassuring in terms of route finding.

It was hard not to keep glancing back at the jagged ridgeline while feeling the airiness at every turn. I even saw Holden Village at one point that reminded me of our trip to Bonanza Peak.

Holden Village
Holden Village

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Route Finding Fun

The traverse was a pure adrenaline rush, thrilling and enjoyable. There was only a handful of class 4 moves, plus a few places to rappel off the cliffs. Other than that, it was smooth sailing mostly.

At the 8500′ south notch, I thought about going into the east gully. Then I would climb up via the southeast face plus the east ridge. Then I decided to save time by staying on the ridgeline.

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Final Stretch from Mount Fernow to Copper Peak

Soon, I went up to the 8600′ shoulder via a steep, sketchy gully. The rocks there were more terrible than I would’ve liked. But I worked on my breathing and took time to look for solid holds to avoid mishaps.

In the end, it was a 3.5-hour, mentally and physically intense workout. But at last, I made it up on Copper Peak in one piece. Whew! 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 and left me speechless. But it’s mainly from the feeling of gratitude for having come up here “in one piece.” But now, I needed to do it again in reverse to finish the trip!

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

Summit exhaustion
Summit exhaustion

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Back to Mount Fernow Plus Exit

Back in Gloomy Basin at dusk, I decided to hike out to the car. But that was before I spotted a pair of blinking eyes by the access notch. No, thank you! Then I prayed for whatever it was to go away.

It was a moonlit night. As I lay underneath the stars, I replayed images from the past two days in my head. Meanwhile, I wondered if I could squeeze in one final climb before the snowfall.

Bonanza Peak
Bonanza Peak

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