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Ascent of Mount Fernow on 2021-07-31

Climber: Amelia Peakheart

Date:Saturday, July 31, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Fernow
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:9249 ft / 2819 m

Ascent Trip Report

sorry I dont know how to upload photos yet, ill try to figure this out later.

To be honest, this took a while the first time around, if you want to be safe, careful and effective. That’s my humble opinion. I intend to go back, maybe this fall, now with a solid grasp of the best route. I did do a bit of research before on the route, knew about some people not dropping down to the tarn(s), but still was an adventure. I also had a few tracks to reference - thanks to Ananth and Sean tracks, though we did choose to do some different paths in some key areas, mostly on the areas where we had the choice to STICK TO SOLID SNOW, especially on our route back, which I’ll explain below.

*Note - wherever possible, our group chose to stick to SNOW. We were not going ultralight, so had crampons and axes. To be honest, if that snow is solid when you go and you don’t mind the weight, it was really nice to cross these snowy sections. Cautious of any snow bridges (especially near multiple waterfalls, stay clear) and listened for running water.

INTRO - Small party of 3, including me. One quite experienced, one more beginner (but really good natured and capable!), and me somewhere in between. Had done quick hike to 7FJ base camp and 7FJ summit the day before. Pretty cool to see no-one out there. Keep it that way and don’t post locations on social media.

UP TO 1ST PASS - EASY WALKING - Left camp at 5am, great weather. Followed in and out boot-paths up easy meadow, easy walking to first 1st Pass. Stick to tracks if you can to keep vegetation beauteous. Went over a rather flat snow field, up some semi-loose large and small rock mixed (easy walking) and up to that 1st Pass.

1st PASS DESCENT - LOOSE + SLOW + VIEWS - As all mention, HUGE cairns will be found at the top, and some sick first views. Take in the landscape, you can see a lot of the route from here laid out in front of you. Huge interesting spire will be in front of you (above and to the R of a LARGE tarn (the one that is marked on all the maps of the area, marked with 7200’ elevation on maps).

View when you hit cairn-marked pass of large spire, left center. You will not head towards this spire, traversing R much before its start.


Gorgeous LARGE tarn, marked on maps, will appear on your L. I am in love with tarns, that’s the only reason I mention this tarn.

That gorgeous large tarn, just mentioned, will start to appear as you descend loose garbage, and look for some more cairns. The first part isn’t so bad. As you keep descending, it deteriorates. We started traversing a bit, hit a section where everything was sliding out from under us, so headed towards a lone snowfield and just stuck on that. Followed that down to some easy, larger wiggly boulders, with gorgeous Yellow and Orange Indian Paint Brush bursts. See little, unmarked tarns (they do not appear on maps I have).



GLOOMY BASIN - TO DESCEND OR NOT TO DESCEND? - Many say they did not descend into Gloomy Basin, and the two small, stellar, light blue tarns there. Well, we did. We stuck to the snow fields and it felt great, easy walking. It was really pretty too, I don’t see the major harm in descending here. Please let me know the upper route if any have beta on that, I’m really interested.


UP + OVER - Right after crossing this snow field, to R of waterfall, we ascended large, kinda loose (easy) boulder gully (I stuck inside the gully, on way back was on upper left rim of it, all felt good). Then found obvious boot paths leading L on mellow terrain.


2ND ‘BASIN’ 7000’ - Hit a gorgeous area (not what others call the UPPER BASIN, but sure looked basin-y, so I’ll call it 2nd Basin. Crossed another mellow snowfield and soft marshy area. Loose, small rock over larger slabs start.

UPPER BASIN 8000’ - Finally, gorgeous. Others mentioned slab-steps, a staircase, really cool terrain. Waterfalls over rock, no green, all rock and water and some snow. We again stuck to the snow, L of main waterfalls, wary of any snow bridges, etc.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles



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