Copper Bowl Backcountry Skiing

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1.96 miles (3.15 km)

Total Elev. Gain:
3,141 ft. (957 m)
Total Elev. Loss:
-52 ft. (-16 m)

Max Altitude:
8,022 ft. (2445 m)
Min Altitude:
4,928 ft. (1502 m)
by Brian Sather — Updated 2 years 1 month ago · Posted Fri, Feb 22, 2013
A ski into Copper is a venture deep into the west side of the Wallowas. The Copper Creek drainage has a variety of terrain features and overall bigness that would accommodate seemingly endless virgin skiing. The difficulty is the amount of time it takes to climb up over the ridge and the limited entry routes that minimize avalanche exposure. The route here climbs a ridge directly from the Main Eagle trailhead at Boulder Park. The trees are thicker and the route is arduously steep for the first third of the climb, but once you get into the alpine on the ridge, the climbing options open markedly. The route shown terminates at the nearest ridge top, so you can decide how you want to enter the bowl and what you'll ski from there. Be careful on the ski into the Copper drainage from the ridge point shown, because there are some areas that roll into cliff bands. Coming back is a bit tricky too, as the slopes above boulder park also have some cliffs and gullies that don't allow for simple fall lines back to the trailhead. Just keep in mind that this is a big climb in and a sketchy trip out, so you won't have a lot of time to play around in the bowl unless you have a lot of daylight. And if you plan an overnight, there aren't many protected places to camp, both from a wind storm or avalanche perspective. For a quicker approach to the Copper basin with less climbing, see the Boulder Creek Basin Ski access.

The high point of the bowl, with lots of fall line lookers right.
Just starting to breach into the Alpine, away from the thicker forest.
View of the ridge to the east, while climbing.
Arriving at the top of the ridge, with the Baker Valley in the background.
Looking east from the ridge. Matterhorn is on the far left. Mt. Cusick is visible in the background on the right.
Looking southeast from the ridge with Red Mountain and Krag Peak visible in the distant background.

Contributors: Zach Heath