By: Ed Lubin
From Anona Lake - Private Climb
On Saturday 9/6/03, Jeff Harper, Ken Pezeshk and I, backpacked the Fern Lake trail from Devils Postpile National Monument, elevation 7559', enroute to climb Iron Mountain elevation 11,149', from Anona Lake. See map.
The trail from Fern to Anona Lake, elevation 9100±', was indistinct in places; and the latter portion is routed below the outlet instead of toward the peak. Our campsite about 150' above the east shore, near the route for climb, was reachable directly from the vertex of trail. Jacques Bernier rendezvoused with us at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, to day-climb Iron! Hiking at a moderate pace, it had taken him three hours, fifteen minutes to reach our campsite from the trailhead.
With backpacks stowed about 100' above where we had camped, the four of us contoured toward the ridge point exactly at the base of the north slope of Peak 10,821', 3288 meters on Cattle Mtn. Quad.
We dropped into and crossed the chute located due south of the lake. There was a scree ramp down the cliff face, which happened to be situated on our intended route, estimated elevation 9500'.
From the opposite side of the chute the ramp and one beside it, appeared to be the only ways down the whole cliff; otherwise it may have been necessary to go up the chute. Snow would be encountered earlier in year; snow-line happened to be right above us.
We crossed at an ideal point where the cliff gradient on the west side of the chute became more gradual and was broken by small ledges which merged with the vast talus field east of Peak 10,821'.
The final hundred feet to the ridge line at the northern base of that peak and key part of climb, was up steep talus and scree to the north of a tiny chute; both set close together in the otherwise impenetrable cliff on eastern side of the north-south tending ridge.
We then crossed to the western side, and contoured on talus down to the head of the Ashley Lake cirque, another route up Iron. Its snowfield had receded about 200' below the ridge, which sometimes is corniced earlier in year. There was a path switch-backing up the extremely steep and muddy terrain to where we stood. Here, we also found a path leading to the summit.
Climbing at a slow to moderate pace, it took four hours, fifteen minutes up, and three hours, thirty minutes down. Our class 2 climb went well. Someone adding the true elevation of the aforementioned pair of ramps to this report, using Anona Lake as a benchmark, and a large cairn placed atop, would aid climbers in taking this route.
Accompanied by Jacques and backpacking out at a slow pace, we returned to the trailhead in about five hours.
Although an estimated one mile round-trip further than our Mona Lake approach, a possible contender for the simplest and fastest way up Iron Mtn., could be climbing it from the headwater of the East Fork of Cargyle Creek, south of the peak; reaching there by going due west from the Granite Stairway, then gradually contouring. We serviously considered doing Iron Mtn as a day climb from Devils Postpile; summiting by our Mona Lake approach and returning by way of Cargyle Creek.
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