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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Copper & Iron Mountains (Mount Rainier)

Wonderful trip with perfect weather. Snow is gone from trail up to 5100 feet.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Started at the Kautz Creek trail head.  Trail is generally in good shape.  Encountered first snow at about 5100 feet. This continued off and on most of the way to the cabin and up the basin to 100 feet below the saddle.  Iron summit is still mostly snow.  The basin below Copper summit which is reached after scrambling the scree gully is also still completely covered in snow but the summit is nearly clear.  From the first sight of snow I'd estimate about 20% of the remaining route was still covered but it is melting fast. 



We had a very successful day reaching both Copper and Iron summits.  We used our ice axes from just beyond the patrol cabin both on the snowy sections which were hard in the shade and the steep heather near the summits as some was slick with the recent melting.  We found boot paths in a few places but many of them would die out and disappear.  This lead to some bushwhacking higher up on Iron.  The large flat summit was still 70% covered with snow. 

Once back at the saddle we found a steep but good boot path up to the basin on Copper.  The last 20 feet before the basin was slick due to the snow melt running down the path.  Veggie belays were very  useful here.

The views were amazing with clear skies all the way to Mt. Hood and great views of Adams, St. Helens, the Tatoosh Range and many of the other Rainier peaks.  The highlight was  the avalanche lilies which lined the hills by the thousands  while other flowers have yet to bloom.  Also, the butterflies were swarming the trail and air around us for much of the route.  And the other bugs didn't bother us with both summits generally bug free.

Lastly, we saw only six other people on the entire route.  A great day had by all.