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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Mount Fernow/Southwest Slope

Weekend trip trip to climb Mount Fernow, approaching via the Carne High route, camping in Leroy Basin, and hiking out Sunday after summiting.

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • The primary hazard on the route is  surviving the Phelps Creek FS to get to the trailhead!

    The Carne High Route was pretty easy to follow although it disappears in places so having a GPS track was nice.  

Our group rolled the dice on the smoke situation and took a two day trip to climb Mt. Fernow. We took the Carne High Route approach to camp at Leroy Basin, climbing Carne and Chilly along the way. One Sunday we climbed Fernow and hiked out in very clear, warm weather.


Our group hit the trail around 9:00 in moderately smoky conditions and climbed up to Carne Mountain.  From there we shwacked down the south face of the east ridge to reconnect with the High Route trail before splitting off again to the east to tag Chilly.  Chilly is surprisingly far off the Carne trail and eats up time, particularly in the heat and smoke.    

The only beta to share from approach day is that all of the tracks our group had collectively downloaded showed a somewhat rising traverse from Freezer Pass to Maude’s south ridge before intersecting the trail back to Leroy Basin interests.  However, at Freezer Pass a clear boot track in the scree led downhill (northwest) into the basin and then across the basin a trail exiting to the north was visible. We took a chance on that and it paid off big time with a very direct and civilized trail that connected with the Maude trail to Leroy Basin.

By evening the smoke was largely gone and we were treated to tons of stars and even a few remnants of the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Sunday morning we stared out in the dark and were at the tarn in Gloomy Basin in 3 hours.  From there it took us another 2 hours and 15 minutes to arrive at the summit.  Fernow has a well earned reputation as a difficult navigation but with a couple of Fernow veterans on the trip, it was all about scrambling efficiently and managing the loads of loose rock which our awesome group did well.


The only beta to share on Fernow beyond what is readily available is that we climbed up the skiers right descent option to access the short northbound traverse on the summit pyramid that some trip reports advocated as an approach pathway and that worked well.  We missed the famous cannon hole but experienced no 4th class or significant exposure...and it was quick. 

Because of the loose rock and attention grabbing slabs, it takes nearly as long to get back to camp as it does to summit, 5 hours in our case.


We hiked out via the Leroy Basin trail down to the Phelps Creek trail.