Kaleetan Peak

The view of Kaleetan Peak from the Granite Mountain Trail stirred my imagination.  It looked so steep and inaccessible, a pinnacle standing alone.  (It is just a little left of center in this panorama).  When I discovered that it was only a second class scramble, I had to go.  The only difficulty was waiting for a clear day, because I wanted to be able to enjoy the views.

Since I had not seriously ventured off trail since I moved to Washington, I did some Google research on the best route.  Some people headed directly up the ridge from Melakwa Lake, while others went up past the lakes and climbed up the ridge farther along.

Melakwa Lake

When I got to the lake, I started up the ridge, but the trails all seemed to peter out into thickets of brush.  So I headed back down, skirted around the lake, and made my way up the valley.  I was looking for a route up to the ridge when I spotted someone coming down, trying to get my attention.  So I figured this was the right place to ascend, and started heading up.

We met part way up, and stopped for a little chat.  He had come up the ridge, and was now headed back down.  He warned me that the slope would get steeper and steeper, but that I could probably make it.  I thanked him and pressed on upwards.  There was loose talus in various sizes, steep rock gullies, slippery grassy slopes, and impenetrable brush.  I don’t know which one was hardest, but after 1000 feet I was grateful to finally reach the ridge and find an actual footpath.

The ridgetop was delightful walking: suddenly I had views in all directions.  Before long I reached a low spot, where the path dropped a few hundred feet around some cliffs.  All this time I was getting closer and closer to Kaleetan Peak, and it did not appear to be getting any more climbable.  I spotted a party ahead, and I could see they were on a trail of sorts, so I pressed on.  I just figured I would keep going until I could go no further.

Kaleetan Peak

The path kept getting steeper and steeper, until I finally found myself at the bottom of the summit block.  It is steep, but there is a gully with lots of hand and footholds.  I just kept climbing up and up, unable to tell how close to the top I was.  As I was hoisting myself up another ledge, I heard some saying hello just a foot away.  I was on the top!.  There was barely room to sit down, and steep cliffs on all sides, making me feel pretty uneasy.  I crawled over the the edge and peered down, then crawled back to a safer spot to nibble on some lunch.  I was a little clumsy getting the lens cap off, and dropped it.  Off it sailed, a thousand feet down.

Ascent Gully to Kaleetan Peak

The other party on top was occupying the only flat spot, and seemed in no hurry to move on, so I took a few quick pictures and headed back down.  Unfortunately the clouds were moving in so there was no view or Rainier or any other of the distant peaks.  I could see the lookout on Granite Mountain, and over Snoqualmie Pass to the lakes beyond.

On Kaleetan Peak

On the way back I met several other parties coming up, which surprised me because this seemed to me a pretty strenuous hike.  I stayed on the ridge path the whole way back, a far less strenuous way to go.

More Pictures


PS: Here’s a view from Google Earth.

Kaleetan Peak with GPS Track

One Response to “Kaleetan Peak”

  1. Matthew Veith says:

    My brother and I hiked Kaleetan today and we followed your exact GPS route up onto the south ridge below the summit. It was unbelievably dangerous and shouldn’t even be considered to be an acceptable route. The dead pine needles and near vertical pitch forced us to cling to the plants just so that we wouldn’t slip and fall onto the scree fields below. One single mistake would’ve meant serious injury or death. Your post makes this route seem at least somewhat manageable, but in reality it is extremely unsafe and shouldn’t be taken by even the most skilled hikers. We had no idea that the route that begins near the entrance of Melakwa Lake was a better choice, because your post makes it seem like the only up the mountain is by assaulting the ridge after ascending past the upper lake. If we hadn’t had a chance meeting with a couple of mountaineers who steered us in the right direction on the ridge, we would’ve been forced to descend the same route and most likely would’ve seriously injured ourselves. Your post comes up 8th in a google search of “Kaleetan Peak,” so lots of people are using your information as a basis for their hikes, like my brother and I did. You must edit this page to include a warning against using your GPS track up to the south ridge in the summer season because it is virtually unclimbable, and it would’ve taken the lives of hikers less lucky than us.

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