Cheops is the unofficial but widely recognized name of Point 8270 which looms directly over Boiling Lake in the Chelan-Sawtooth subrange of the North Cascades of Washington State. Its name is meant to evoke the awe-inspirng grandeur of the Great Pyramids of Giza, and in this purpose, the name does fulfill its purpose. The North Face of Cheops forms an impressive backdrop to Boiling Lake, so named for the bubbles which emanate from its muddy bottom. The scramble of Cheops affords great views of the Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness area, which encompasses the high peaks of Bigelow, Star, Oval, and Courtney Peaks. This is a fun scramble that can be done early in the year, as this area is dry and tends to melt out earlier than those areas of the Cascades farther west. Cheops can also be the starting point of a great alpine traverse which goes from Cheops in the North to Martin Peak and Switchback Peak farther south. This is a fun area worth a couple of days of exploring, and a peak-rich environment for peak-baggers of all kinds.
Summit of Cheops
TOPO! Software Image
Boiling Lake from Summit
From Pateros on the Columbia River, drive the Methow Valley Highway 17 miles toward Twisp. Just before crossing the Methow River for the 7th time, turn left on a narrow country road 1 mile to a Forest Service sign. Turn left on road No. 4340 (North Fork Gold Creek Road) for 6.6 miles to a junction. Turn left on road No (4340)300 for 6 miles to the Eagle Lake trailhead, 4,700 feet.
Take the Eagle Lake Trail 7.5 miles to Horsehead Pass, then drop 700 feet to Boiling Lake (6,900 feet). From Boiling Lake, take a way trail due South toward an obvious unnamed pass (7,400 feet), then drop a couple of hundred feet into the basin, still heading south on parkland for about 1/4 mile. Climb due east anywhere up to the ridge connecting Cheops on the left, and Martin on the right (easy, Class 1). Run the ridge due North towards Cheops. In general, stay on top of the ridge, but when forced off the top, veer to the right (east) side of the ridge. Follow the ridge up mainly Class 2 and some short stretches of Class 3 terrain to the summit of Cheops. You will have great views of Boiling Lake below, as well as Martin Peak and Switchback Peak to the South.
A great alpine traverse, easily done in one day from Boiling Lake, would be a Cheops to Martin Peak to Switchback Peak high alpine traverse. All three peaks top out over 8,200 feet.
A Forest Service trail park pass is required at the trailhead ($30/year, $5/daily).
There are no other permits required. This is unprotected territory, just south of the Chelan-Sawtooth Recreation Area.
Unfortunately, this also means that this is prime motorcycle territory. The trail is open to horses, bikes, and motorcycles.
Great camping spots abound at Boiling Lake, just over Horsehead Pass. Other good camping spots can be found in the meadows west of Cheops and Martin Peak, as well as in the meadows north of Boiling Lake under the slopes leading to Mount Bigelow.
You can get the latest information on road closures and trail conditions at the U.S Forest Service office.
U.S. Forest Service
Methow Valley Ranger District
Twisp, WA 98856
"Good-bye. I am leaving because I am bored."
--George Saunders, last words