Peak(s):  Copeland Mtn  -  13,176 feet
Date Posted:  10/20/2019
Date Climbed:   10/19/2019
Author:  trkl9
 Copeland Mountain - East Ridge and Northeast Slope  

Copeland Mountain Via Pear Lake

TH: Finch Lake, Wild Basin

Distance: 16.80 miles

Elevation Gain: 5,066 feet

Start: 6:24 AM

Took on another remote gem in RMNP this weekend before the next significant snow. Copeland has been another 13er on my eye for quite some time now. I had a tough time deciding which route to take but figured I'd check out Finch and Pear lakes on the way since I have never explored this area of Wild Basin and man they did not disappoint. Arrived at the TH just after 6 AM, readied my gear and set off for another excursion through this beautiful wilderness.


Token sunrise shot as usual. This area actually had quite a few aspens that I'm sure were very pretty in the peak fall color but by now they have shed all their leaves.


Alpenglow on Meeker, Longs, Pagoda and Chiefs Head through a break in the trees. Quite an amazing sight. Stood here in awe for a few minutes. Clouds were over the tall peaks and they would continue to build as I moved forward from here.


Finch Lake was my first stop on this route, about 4.3 miles in. Calm, cold and serene here. Ice is starting to from around the outskirts of the lake. Could have sat here all day. Copeland is the big, round mountain dead ahead.


On my way to Pear Lake, a break in the trees gave good views of the task at hand. My route will take me to the very far right around the steep, jagged slopes to the back side and then up to the summit in the middle of the picture above.


Made it to Pear Lake in 2.5 hours and about 6.33 miles into my quest. Got quite a bit more windy up here and I could tell this was going to be a cold day going forward. I'm assuming that the snowy mountain in the background is Elk Tooth but correct me if I'm wrong. I would love to continue up towards Cony Lake, Cony pass and Ogalalla peak from here but another day. From here you turn north towards the Pear Lake campsites, then this becomes an excellent off trail experience.


After you pass the backcountry campsites, you have to bushwhack through about 1 mile of forest. Head north and west from here until you break through tree line. GPS was significantly helpful through this section. There are breaks through the trees and rocky areas that helped me navigate without too much difficulty. You'll see the edge of Copeland's east ridge marked by steep rocky outcroppings. Where they end on the lowest part of the slope at tree line is where you need to be. Just keep trudging through the forest until you wrap around these outcroppings to begin your ascent.


View in the trees of Copeland and the east ridge. It was so steep and looked like an eternity away from me. As described above, keep following the forest until you can access the east ridge.


Once you break through the trees, your ascent up this never ending slope begins. Take a slight left turn towards the west and follow the slope up.


Looking back at the bushwhack just above tree line.


This next photo is looking at what remains to the summit. Pick your poison here. You may ascend farther south of the east ridge for more difficult climbing including class 3 moves. You can also skirt towards the northern side which gives you less significant boulder scrambling and more tundra. There are 3-4 false summits on this route and I thought this ascent would never end. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Just above tree line it is about 1 mile and 1700-1800 feet of gain.


Looking north towards Wild Basin, Mount Alice, Chiefs Head, Pagoda, Longs and Meeker on the ascent. This would be the last time I saw them not completely obscured by clouds.


The two picture above give you an idea of what the slope looks like. Super steep and relentless but not too technical. It got a little frosty and icy as I approached 12,800 feet but avoiding snow drifts was easy today. Clouds began to thicken a little more as I kept going and snow flurries began to fall.


Almost to the summit! I don't think I've been so happy to see a summit after going over the last false summit.

Shortly after, I made it to the summit at 11:29 AM, just after 5 hours and 8.38 miles from the trailhead. Only spent 10-15 minutes on top because of the cold and wind. Thermometer was around 15 degrees and the wind chill had to be near, if not below, zero degrees.


Three photos above are looking south of the summit towards Elk Tooth, Ogalalla and Cony Lake. Clouds were obviously only over RMNP as you can see the big peaks farther south in the sunshine.


Looking north and west from the summit towards Isolation Peak, Bluebird, Pipit and Isolation Lakes.


Looking north from the summit towards Mount Alice, Chiefs Head, Pagoda, Longs and Meeker completely covered in clouds.


Cheers to another incredible and remote RMNP 13er summit. Oh, and go Cats!


Sunny looking back towards home on my descent. Followed the East Ridge back down to tree line.


Back to tree line and bushwhack back to Pear Lake.


Pear Lake from the forest. Things continued to cloud up as I descended.


One last photo on my descent of an opening in the trees looking at all of the amazing peaks in the Wild Basin area.

I don't think I'll ever get used the the energy required for these long and remote peaks in RMNP as this was another incredible physical challenge. Made it back to the parking lot 9 hrs and 17 minutes after I started. Get out there and explore these peaks! Some of the best hiking is to be had out here in RMNP.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

good beta
10/23/2019 10:37
and gooooo wildcats! I wish our football season was going a little better

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