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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Copper & Iron Mountains (Mount Rainier)

Successful scramble of two tough peaks in Mt. Rainier National Park.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • On the Kautz Creek to Indian Henry trail, there is intermittent snow starting at 4,700 feet.  The snow is still deep in places but it is melting.  Beyond the 5,600 ft high point down to Indian Henry's the entire route is covered with snow.  From the patrol cabin, we had a number of snow sections but there were also melted out sections in which we had to deal with wet heather and avalanche lillies.  We had to use veggie belays a number of times.  Both summits were covered in snow.

7am meet time at Kautz Creek trailhead.  We were on the trail at 7:20.  We made good time until the 4,700 foot level where snow on the trail slowed us down.  It took 3h 15 minutes to get to Indian Henry's Patrol Cabin.  After a break, we headed up the hill behind the patrol cabin.  Just prior to the saddle, we traversed south to catch Iron Peak first.  We stayed west of the two small rock outcroppings (visible on the map) and then fought our way up the NW side of Iron.  There is slippery heather and avalanche lillies to contend with, but the whole party made it to the top of Iron which is nearly completely covered in snow.  We descended the same way we came up but then traversed the saddle to catch Copper.  We went up a small notch to catch the snowfield on Copper, but this was extremely difficult due to the brush and we were bushwhacking our way through.  Once on the snowfield, it was an easy snow travel up and we were able to easily hike up the last 50 feet to the summit itself.  On the way down, we found easier terrain by going slightly further north on the west facing side of Copper. Descent back down to the patrol cabin was uneventful.  We continued back on the Kautz Creek trail arriving back to the car at 5:45pm.  Both peaks were clearly T3's and required bushwhacking and the occasional veggie belay.  We brought a rope but did not use it.  Ice axes were used, the microspikes were not.

Total time: 10h 25 minutes (including breaks)

Mileage: 13.5 miles, elevation gained: 4,840 feet)

Weather: Mostly cloudy.  Skies cleared later in the day after we got back to the cars.