Ascent of Mount Fernow on 2017-08-26

Climber: Connor McEntee

Date:Saturday, August 26, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Fernow
    Elevation:9249 ft / 2819 m

Ascent Trip Report

We took a trip out to the Entiats with the intent to get Fernow, 7FJ, and possibly Maude all in a single day from Leroy Basin. I did get all 3 peaks, but it ended up taking two days and was a bit more strenuous than we had estimated. Much of the rock is fairly loose.

We set out on Friday from the Phelps Creek TH. It was very easy to reach in my Subaru, and there were a number of low clearance vehicles parked there. There are of course a few section that would be tricky without clearance and the road is quite sandy for a stretch. The hike in from the trailhead is quite pleasant, and there is dense cover which sheltered us from the late afternoon heat. It crosses a series of streams before reaching Leroy Creek, which is the largest crossing up to that point. The use trail picks up at an obvious junction immediately after the crossing and heads up steeply to the meadows where there are several campsites and a latrine. We basically had the meadow all to ourselves the first night except for two salt-crazed deer that were not afraid to enter our camp.

We woke up early the next morning and made our way up to the upper basin and the Gloomy/Leroy saddle just beyond it. There is no obvious use trail heading this way from the campsites, we just had to go cross country and over rocks/snow to reach it. It turns out that the most obvious point on the saddle is not the correct late season route down to the Gloomy Glacier. Much of the snow was melted out leaving a gulley filled with steep loose rock. The correct route is over the arm 300 ft or so to the west. There are beautiful views of the tarn several hundred feet below from the arm, from which the route quickly descends directly toward the glacier. This was likely the most technical part of the route. It was sufficiently cold the previous night that the snow was frozen. There was no snow free way to descend down to the glacier short of going all the way around via the tarn. However, with crampons it was an easy 20 ft traverse to the rocks below. As the grade mellowed some, I was able to descend on the snowfield/glacier most of the way down.

The trail picks up on the far side of the drainage and traverses up next to a stream that drains a snowfield on the flat bench above. From here there were some questions about what the correct route was and which pinnacle was indeed Fernow. As we discovered, the route goes mostly straight up the slopes due east of the snowfield and south of the meltwater. After a few hundred feet of climbing and crossing through the last stand of stunted trees, the route crosses the stream and continues up. There are few if any cairns and the rock is loose.

I reached the upper basin just below the saddle just as the sun was rising over it. So, it was hard for me to see, and I made some route finding errors up high. There are multiple ways to get to the east side of Fernow, where there is an easy class 3 scramble to the very top. The standard approach is to continue toward the saddle until you reach the "chockstone gulley". The chockstone is big and obvious. If there's any question, then it's not the right gulley. Prior to finding this gulley, I ended up climbing another gulley that near the top got into class 4+ terrain, and I wasn't even sure if it would access the east side (it does and one can bypass the chockstone gulley if desired). So, I descended and continued a traverse across loose talus. In retrospect, it would have been much easier to ascend the path of least resistance up the snow field until the chockstone gulley is visible. Once on the east side, the summit was quickly attained.

The descent may be more difficult than the ascent. I was hundreds of feet below my partner, but I still managed to get nailed by a softball sized rock. It took a bad bounce right at the last minute and came right at me. The snowfield in the Gloomy Basin was much more fun on the way back, since it had softened up considerably and was a nice reprieve from the rocks.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8424 ft / 2567 m
    Total Elevation Loss:8424 ft / 2567 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.8 mi / 23.8 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3/4
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:7127 ft / 2172 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5830 ft / 1777 m; Extra: 1297 ft / 395m
    Loss on way in:1297 ft / 395 m
    Distance:7.6 mi / 12.2 km
    Route:Leroy Creek/Gloomy Basin
    Start Trailhead:Phelps Creek TH  3419 ft / 1042 m
    Time:6 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:7127 ft / 2172 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 5830 ft / 1777 m; Extra: 1297 ft / 395m
    Gain on way out:1297 ft / 395 m
    Distance:7.2 mi / 11.6 km
    Route:Leroy Creek/Gloomy Basin
    End Trailhead:Phelps Creek TH  3419 ft / 1042 m
    Time:4 Hours 27 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Connor McEntee
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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