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Mount Phelps

 
Mount Phelps

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.68813°N / 121.5653°W

Object Title: Mount Phelps

Activities: Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 5535 ft / 1687 m

 

Page By: larryN

Created/Edited: Nov 8, 2009 / Nov 27, 2011

Object ID: 571511

Hits: 6127 

Page Score: 77.48%  - 8 Votes 

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Overview

Mount Phelps (incorrectly named"McClain Peaks" on the USGS map) is arguably the most prominent looking summit visible when looking east from the Bellevue-Kirkland-Redmond area. I see it many days, and had wanted to climb it since climbing Lennox Mountain in May 2005.
 
Phelps_TwinPeaks
Mount Phelps from Bellevue


This area is rich with mining history, and the standard route up Phelps starts at the Blackhawk mine. There’s a dug out area, but nothing much to see at the mining site. (If there were gold/silver nuggets laying around, would I mention it here?)

I made my first attempt on June 7, 2008, and was turned around at the end of the south ridge purple route (see TOPO! map below) after witnessing a loose slide avalanche come down the gully. I successfully reached the summit via the yellow and red routes on June 13, 2009. They both go pretty well on snow, and I’m curious to see what the terrain looks like in late season. I’ve included a few pictures from the 2008 and 2009 trips.

Phelps’s little brother, called “Little Phelps” by Beckey, is high on my list for 2012. It’s also called “McLain Peak”, and the only successful beta I’ve found on it is on the RhinoClimbs website.

bigjoesmith's TR confirmed that climbing from the west via logging roads isn't a walk up, and probably worse than the more direct route described by the RhinoClimbs account.

If you have beta on Little Phelps, please post it as a comment to this page or send me a PM. Also, let me know if you also are interested in attempting this climb in 2012.

 
PhelpsesFromKatrine
Little Phelps, left, and Mount Phelps. Notice the notch just to the left (west) of Little Phelps's summit. Taken from the south on Loch Katrine, Feb 2006.


Getting There

Follow the Lennox Mountain “Route from the West” approach from North Bend.

Getting from the North Fork Snoqualmie Road to the Black Diamand Mine spur trailhead


Unfortunately, this portion of the trip could take almost as much time as climbing the mountain. What was once drivable has become part of the adventure...

5/31/10 Update: Eric posted a link to his route under the climber's log. This is probably a better alternative now that the road has multiple washouts. If you can confirm a good shortcut for getting to the mine, I'll post that here. Also, I'll post any updates to the road condition.

7/30/10 Update: According to Seattle Mountain Rescue, there has been a lot of road repair work, and you can drive to the Bare Mtn (Lennox Mtn) turnoff. Call the North Bend ranger station for details.

10/10 Update: bigjoesmith's trip report states that he was able to drive to the "wash3" way-point, and he summitted in three hours from there.







 
Routes
TOPO! map
 
Washout #1
Washout #1
 
Washout #3
Washout #3
 
Blackhawk mine spur road
Blackhawk spur

On 6/7/08 snow forced us to park near waypoint “wash2.” Last winter was very hard on the approach road, and it has sustained serious damage at wash1, wash2, wash3, and wash4. My guess is it will never be repaired, but you should be able to drive past the left turn onto FS5730. (If you continue straight at this fork, you drive off the bottom of my map, and head to the Lennox Mountain TH.) From the left turn onto FS5730, it’s about 3.75 miles to the Blackhawk mine spur road, 2550’. The Wagner bridge was repaired in the spring of 2008, and the Sunday Creek bridge was being repaired last summer, forcing us to park south of it. You should call the North Bend ranger station to check the latest conditions, since the approach could be the crux: 425 888-1421.

Route Description

Assuming you manage to drive/bike/hike to the Blackhawk mine spur road at 2550’, you have about 3000’ left to the summit. After a short distance, the road comes into a clearing, the Blackhawk mine site. Continue to the far (north) side of the clearing to see a dug out area, but don’t bother taking your camera. After entering the open area, find the trail going right. It starts out pretty well, and then can be difficult to follow at times.





 
clearcut
Clearcut fun
 
Transition into forest
Forest transition
Try to stay on it to minimize the hassle of getting through the lower clear-cut section. Look for rock cairns on top of stumps. It’s not too bad. Eventually you get into the uncut forest before getting to waypoint “ROCK” at around 3800’. This is the location of a rock outcropping, and the beginning of the south ridge.

South Ridge



Follow the south ridge to about 4800’ where steeper, slabby rock forces you toward a gully on the left. I’ve never summitted from this direction, but it looks like you can traverse toward the SW ridge on the dotted purple route, and then continue on to the summit using the red route.

The purple route slope never exceeded 30-35 deg, although negotiating some tree-wells was steeper. Good snow travel skills are required.






 
South ridge
South ridge
 
End of Purple Route
4800' on South Ridge
 
dotted purple route
Dotted-purple route(see TOPO! map)

Stats: 1.3 mi, 3000' from the Blackhawk mine spur road.

SW ridge


From the ROCK waypoint, traverse left into the basin, aiming toward the 4200’ Phelps-McLain saddle. If you climb too fast, you will need to drop back down (yellow route), or continue up the basin/gully following the dotted yellow route on the east side of the ridge gendarme.

Higher on the mountain there are places where the slope gets to 30-35 deg, and I clearly remember one place where it looked like run-out was poor. Like the south route, good snow travel skills are required for an early season ascent.






 
summit from yellow route
Summit area from traverse
 
4200  saddle
Looking toward 4200' saddle from traverse
 
SW ridge (red route)
5000' on the SW ridge

Stats: 1.5 mi, 3000' from the Blackhawk mine spur road.

Camping

If you want to spend the night in this area, the 4200' saddle has some flat ground. I can't recall any other places that looked suitable for camping.

External Links

RhinoClimbs website
Sergio Verdina
NWHikers forum
Everett Mountaineers Scrambling Trip
WTA trip report
The HyperFacet aerial photos
Photos from a 7/22/06 climb



Images