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Cope Butte - 3 members in 3 triplogs have rated this an average 4.7 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Feb 20 2022

 Guides 29
 Routes 329
 Photos 9,747
 Triplogs 925

40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
Cope ButteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 20 2022
FOTGTriplogs 925
Hiking12.94 Miles 3,890 AEG
Hiking12.94 Miles   9 Hrs   42 Mns   1.61 mph
3,890 ft AEG   1 Hour   41 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
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Another coaching season had kept me away from the Grand Canyon since October, but Cope Butte proved to be the perfect summit to knock off some Canyon rust.

After coaching three boys to some state medals on Saturday and locking up another top ten team finish, we were off for the Grand Canyon. In fitting Canyon fashion, we did not arrive to our sleeping spot until after 12:30 a.m. We begrudgingly got out of bed sometime after six and were on the trail by 7:15 a.m.

The hike to Cope was pretty standard and the early morning golden hour set the scene for us as we descended. We passed a few groups of backpackers on the way down, but did not see another person on the trail for the rest of day. The steep scramble to the start of Cope is straightforward and obvious. From there, a faint use trail, as well as some timely cairns provides a nice guide for most of the ascent. The class four chimney was fun and had some of the better rock on the butte. Katie had some pause, but it was mainly related to the thought of down-climbing it later in the day. From there, a little mantle on to a ledge leads to some nicer walking as you traverse north to the next obstacles. I thought the final little scrambles to the ridgeline probably provided some of the more thought provoking moves of the ascent and required the most care. The rock is pretty rotten here, use caution. The ridgeline was engaging and fun and a little thoughtful in spots, but nothing too crazy, just some big exposure on a narrow rotten ridgeline. We swapped out the old register can with a new one in hopes of preserving the rather historical register, with entries dating back to the 60s. After signing the register and taking in the spectacular perspective, we returned the way we came. The down climb in spots pushed Katie, but we got through it with a little teamwork and descended back to the notch rather quickly and efficiently. We returned the way we came and took our time on the hike back to the rim.

Cope Butte is a true Canyon classic and a spectacular summit. Bring some experience, scrambling skills and a little mettle, if planning to attempt. Its a nice little test piece for a Grand Canyon scrambler and peak bagger. This was my 46th Grand Canyon summit and Katie’s 5th.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Santa Maria Spring Dripping Dripping
Full trough, but pipe was barely trickling.
5 archives
May 04 2013

 Guides 6
 Routes 13
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

38 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Cope ButteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar May 04 2013
sbkelleyTriplogs 184
Hiking11.00 Miles 3,200 AEG
Hiking11.00 Miles
3,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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Partners none no partners
Well, this was one for the ages...

I had originally penciled this weekend in as a Grand Canyon/Humphreys back-to-back...and that ended up being true, just not in the fashion I originally planned. My friend Eric was thumbing through Tomasi's Grand Canyon summits select, and this pile of fun diverted the eye away from the busy Corridor Trails and onto something new. You can see Cope Butte quite clearly from the Abyss overlook and Pima and Mohave Points, among others.

We left Hermit's Rest at 7:30 am, and enjoyed shade for almost the entire descent. The quiet and often-gentle Hermit Trail provided a great break from the bustle to the east. We just saw a few parties backpacking out in the morning cool. The traverse across the Supai, as always, took a loooonnng time, but at last, we came to the Cathedral Stairs and came face-to-face with the goal. My heart jumped in my throat. Nothing about this looked like a good idea. While Cope Butte is a nice sight while hiking the serene Hermit Trail, it took on new meaning now. You could see the route quite clearly, but you could also see the exposure.

"Don't fall..."

We left the Hermit Trail just before the long switchback under the Butte, and scrambled up the Redwall talus to the small obvious notch to the Butte's south. An impossible turret blocks ridgeline progress, so we traversed for about 200 ft before starting up a couple 3rd class chimneys. Then, we turned right and faced the crux, a 30' Class 4, exposed shallow "chimney" climb. With loose holds sprinkled here and there among solid ledges for extra fun! I elected to leave my pack here (and my camera), to help with balance, but Richard and Eric kept their smaller cameras as we ascended. Past here, the difficulty eases, but the exposure does not. We scrambled on solid ramps up to the ridgeline proper, where I saw Eric grinning. When you see that, trouble awaits :) A Class 3 scramble up a very narrow ridgeline is the last major obstacle, and while the climbing isn't hard, multiple hundreds of feet of open air greet your corneas if you choose to look down toward either Monument or Hermit Creeks. Eric encouraged us with: "Don't fall left...or right....just don't fall." Followed by, as he was leading, "I'm not really sure what's holding this last rock up here." on the very narrow, airy ridge. Onward.

The narrow spine never got more than a foot or two wide until near the summit, and at this point, the angle of the ridge was very gentle. At last arriving at Cope Butte's top was exhilarating. This perch offered unobstructed views up and down-Canyon, and the Rim loomed far above. To add to the moment, a couple California Condors sailed lazily over our heads. Wow. I had yet to see one of these large birds, and to do so at that moment was incredible. Watching rafters run Hermit Rapid was a bonus prize, and we could hear the whoops of joy from a couple parties as they entered the rapid. What else could you ask for? Richard snapped a group shot of us on top. Back we went as the sun began to really warm the day.

The pull of safety, beer, food, and home called us back down the ridgeline, which was an exercise in calm focus. The crux was exciting on the descent, as Eric pulled out his very own handhold to keep, staring quizzically at his new "prize". Good thing he was stable at the time. I shimmied down next, followed by Richard. We were all relieved to finally be back at the notch, then to the Hermit Trail. Our prize for success? A ~3000' climb out in the afternoon sun! It went well, though, as we lounged in the shade at some key locations. What a day, guys, and it was off to Flagstaff for round 2 for the weekend.
May 04 2013

 Routes 4
 Photos 62
 Triplogs 3

36 male
 Joined Sep 26 2006
Cope ButteNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar May 04 2013
neurolizerTriplogs 3
Hiking13.00 Miles 5,270 AEG
Hiking13.00 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   2.00 mph
5,270 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break30 LBS Pack
1st trip
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 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Cope Butte  Hermit Rapids
average hiking speed 1.81 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.


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