As we made the 3 hour trip to Arco, Saturday afternoon, we were amazed at the amount of snow in the Camas Prairie and at Craters of the Moon NM. As we settled in for the night in our luxurious 3 bed motel room, we hoped that the snow wouldn't be too deep.
Luckily for us, the turn off to Long Canyon was snow free, allowing us to drive the two miles to the base of the route. Surprisingly, the southern end of the Beaverheads had very little snow and the route to Copper did not look too difficult. Not quite knowing what to expect, we loaded our packs with ice axes, crampons and snowshoes and were on our feet at roughly 7:30AM.
|Copper Mountain is the peak to the left|
|John heading up the ridge|
|The southern Lemhi range|
|John and Michael on one of the many mining roads|
|Heading up towards Point 8555|
|Self portrait with Diamond peak in the background|
|A large hole that John emerged from|
|Michael churning up with point 8555 behind him|
Did I mention it was beautiful out? Sunny skies and no wind, almost T-shirt weather.
|One last bit of snow before the talus|
At 9700 feet we finally reached the rock band below the false summit. The talus, though loose, offered much better footing than the snow as we trudged toward the false summit at 10,000 feet. By this time it was 12:30 and we had been at it for five hours. With very tired legs, we plodded the final 3/4 mile to the summit.
|Michael has never been so happy to be on loose rock|
|Michael and John with the summit of Copper Mountain behind them|
|All smiles for the summit shot|
The weather was still spectacular at the summit as we chatted and fueled up for the hike back. We had thoughts of making a small loop of the hike, but decided to play it safe and retrace our steps.
So after a short 20 minutes, we started back down.
|The car (circled in red) is a long way down there|
I'd like to say that the trip down was easier than the hike up, but as I sit here with aching legs a day later, I'm not so sure. The sun had further affected the snow, and though the trail was broken, it was much more slippery than on the way up. We all had our challenges on the way down with exhaustion causing multiple slips and falls in the snow. There were multiple stops to ward off dehydration and replenish energy reserves, before we eventually reached the rig at 4:45.
It was a long grueling day, but it was with great friends and a gorgeous day!
|Interesting limestone formations|
Time: 9.5 hours car-car
Distance: ~ 9 miles
Elevation: ~4300 feet