Copper Mountain


A sufferfest above 10,000 feet in February on Copper Mountain.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Michael had the weekend off and the weather said sunny. But the avalanche danger was high to extreme. What to do?

I had been watching web cams, and it appeared that the Beaverheads had not received the big snow nor the recent rains. So we spent the night in Arco and were at the trailhead in Long Canyon a little after 7. This was a big bonus, because we were expecting to be on our feet from the highway. From here, you can see our summit, the highpoint on the left of center.


We started out walking on an old snowmo track, then up the toe of the ridge through cheat grass, etc.. Sun coming up over the Lemhis.


There are mining roads that honeycomb these hills. We decided that we should stick to ridges, so every now and again were "bushwhacking" off the roads.


Quick gain the initial 1200'. This is going great!


At a saddle, there are options, with three possible ridges of ascent. The closest had looked the most promising on the topo. Here we go.

And the views were starting. The big one here is Diamond Peak.

Summit porn: a close-up of Diamond. Approach

Oh joy. Mountain mahogany.

Alternate pronunciation: "more agony"


At this point, the snow had accumulated some depth. It also had a crust over sugar. Our excellent progress slowed considerably.


And then the saddle in the ridge appeared. Our ridge is the one on the right that arcs left as it ascends.

Eventually, mostly thanks to John, we made it to the junction above timberline. With joy, we took off the snowshoes to climb steep, loose talus. By comparison, this was wonderful. Approach
After the talus headwall, the summit plateau seems pretty flat. But highly foreshortened. There is a "cliffband' just behind the photographer here. When we got to it, the cliffband was about 3' tall. Approach
Firm snow to the top. Approach

Summit. 1PM.

We hung out for a bit in a slight breeze, which felt really good at first. Then it was time to start down.


We had a brief discussion about going back the ridge on the right instead of the way we had climbed, the dark ridge in the middle. It seemed much more open, and hit a road at a higher elevation. Maybe the road would be solid? But our fear of having to break miles more trail won out.


As suspected, returning down our route was actually a lot of work. Slippery sugar, crust that had softened in the sun all day, and rubber February climbing legs all conspired to leave us all pretty much exhausted, with the sun sinking fast.

Terrible amount of work, but now there is a trail broken....


John's report

Incline map- This is a feature of CalTopo that allowed us to identify a route with potentially low avy hazard. Approach
Route map Approach

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