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Three Queens
Mountain/Rock

Three Queens

 
Three Queens

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.44630°N / 121.2707°W

Object Title: Three Queens

Elevation: 6687 ft / 2038 m

 

Page By: Klenke

Created/Edited: Oct 20, 2003 / Aug 5, 2009

Object ID: 151982

Hits: 8890 

Page Score: 78.27%  - 9 Votes 

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Overview

Three Queens? Which three queens? Perhaps the English sovereigns Anne (1702-1714), Victoria (1837-1901), and Elizabeth II (1952-present). But that wouldn't be the three, for the peak was probably named before 1952 (it was first climbed in 1925). Okay, then how about three empresses of Ancient Egypt: Hatsheput (1473-1458 B.C.); Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaton (1379-1362 B.C.); and Cleopatra (51-30 B.C.)? Or maybe Three Queens merely refers to the address of some skyrise in Queens, NY.

At any rate, this Three Queens is a significant mountain that is often forgotten by the undiscerning Pacific Northwest climber. It is the second-highest peak in the Greater Snoqualmie Pass area if one does not include those peaks on the long, high ridge of the Chimney Group. Three Queens anchors the southeastern end of Chikamin Ridge, of which 7,000-ft Chikamin Peak anchors the northwestern end. The mountain is located almost directly north of Little Kachess Lake (the northern arm of Kachess Lake) between the drainages of Mineral Creek on the south and southwest and Cooper River on the north and east. It is about three miles due east of Alta Mountain and two miles NE of Hibox Mountain. The mountain was once known as Mineral Mountain, in association with the creek below it.

The mountain's defining characteristic which lends it its name are the three towers trending to the west. Each tower stands out on its own. The East Tower is the highest and bulkiest. The Middle Tower is pyramidal in shape and is apparently not a difficult climb. The West Tower is more spire-like and is the hardest summit to attain (class 5). A long ridge with sometimes exfoliated south side trends southeast then east then eventually back northeast. Three Queens Lake (5,370 ft) lies in a high basin closely east of the crest of the ridge at the point where the ridge makes a bend to the northeast. Another noteworthy lake is Spectacle Lake to the north. This is a favorite destination for Pacific Crest Trail hikers.

Getting There

The only really feasible way to drive to Three Queens is via Cooper Road (FR-46), which junctions off of Cle Elum River Road at 14.7 miles. The Cle Elum River Road is accessed from I-90 at Cle Elum. To get to the south side "trailheads," the idea is to go west on Cooper Road over Cooper Pass (the road turns into FR-4600 about 4.5 miles in). This road eventually ends at the Mineral Creek Trailhead (est. 2,360 ft) not far from the north end of Little Kachess Lake. At one time it was proposed to extend this road past Little Kachess Lake to link it up with FR-49 (the route to Box Canyon). Fortunately, this extension never "went through," so to speak. To make the link up now, you have to do it on foot. Other approaches to this peak are quite a bit longer and I therefore leave it up to you to read up on them if the Cooper Road approach is not acceptable. Note that you can see Three Queens dead ahead at some point while driving up Cooper Road.

Three Queens Lake Route

In roughly 8.7 miles a spur road cuts off to the right from FR-4600 and crosses the creek. One can use this spur road if choosing to make the climb from the southeast. The climb from this direction is brushy for the first 500 vertical feet but clears up the higher you go. Drive the spur road for not more than half-a-mile to about 2,800 ft. The sometimes rocky, sometimes forested, sometimes brushy southeast slopes of Three Queens will appear above. Essentially, the idea is to pick the most feasible route (for you) up the slope. You can trend northwestward toward Pt. 5515, beyond which lies the lake. There is a basin to the east of Pt. 5515 that is easy to ascend to the ridge line. Turning left, one can follow the curving ridge line past the lake to the eastern foot of the East Tower. The summit is generally attained via the Northeast Ridge (class 3 but reports have indicated a loose Class 4 section to get onto the ridge). To get there, it will be necessary to cross a moderately steep snowslope, below which are more cliffs. Ice axe would be handy. Don't be like me and forget it. It is possible this snowslope could be bare in late season. Car-to-summit: 5 hours. More direct this way but more brush.

For another report similar to this route, go here and type in Three Queens in the Trip Report search box.

Mineral Creek Route

Take the road to its end at about 9.4 miles and 2,360 ft. This is the trailhead for the Mineral Creek Trail. Cross the creek and take the trail westward for less than half-a-mile to where it makes a T-junction with the main line of the trail trending north-south. Continue north (later northwest) on the trail another 1.4 miles to where it crosses Mineral Creek again. At this point, the idea is to leave the trail and take the most suitable route northward up the slope. You can't initially see the summit of Three Queens. There are crags above but none of these are the summit. A drainage creek is shown on maps right where the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Boundary is located. You can climb up near this drainage as it curves leftward toward the summit. Due to cragginess on the Southeast Shoulder, it will probably be necessary to contour around on the south side of the crest (though you can probably contour on the north side just as easily). A red slabby basin/slope between you and the towers will look pretty daunting but it's not that bad. It may also be snowcovered in early season. Rounding a small rib west of Pt. 6230, you will get your first good view of the three towers. If you were here to climb either the Middle or West Tower, then you'd want to keep contouring over to them from here. If you only wanted to climb the Main (East) Tower, then you basically want to aim for a feasible way back over the Southeast Shoulder. Once on the east side of the crest, contour below the East Face of the summit tower on either steep snow (ice axe would be handy) or possibly talus to the Northeast Ridge. A snowfinger moat could pose a problem getting onto rock. Ascend the class 3 ridge to the summit. Car-to-summit: 5 hours. Less brush this way but not as direct.

Spectacle Lake Route

I have not been this way but it appears that an ascent directly from the lake to the Northeast Ridge of the Main (East) Tower would be quite straightforward until cliffs would be encountered. Lower down, the north slope is pretty benign, but higher up, the north side of the Northeast Ridge is quite precipitous looking on maps. If you could somehow gain the lower Northeast Ridge, then it could be no more than class 3 to the summit. Don't take my word for it. Don't take Beckey's word for it either, for that matter. He speaks of "steps" in the lower Northeast Ridge. He doesn't say what the difficulty of these steps is, but then I only have the First Edition of brown Beckey.

For another report similar to this route, go here and type in Three Queens in the Trip Report search box.

Red Tape

The Mineral Creek Trailhead used to require one of those hated Trail Park Passes. It's been three years since I was there. Can't say whether or not the pass is still required there (some less-used trailheads no longer require the pass). Though the trailhead is not within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the bulk of the mountain is, thus standard Wilderness policy applies (for me, this includes no bolting). Three Queens Lake lies just outside the Wilderness, according to my topo software.

When To Climb

This mountain could be climbed any time of year. It really depends on two things: what your winter climbing skill level is and how easily you could access the peak if the road is snowed in. Snowmobiles or cross-country skis would be handy. Cooper Road tops out at ~3,400 ft in the vicinity of Cooper Pass, but the road is typically snowed over all the way back to Cle Elum River Road in the dead of winter.

Camping

Three Queens Lake would be a nice place to camp. But who needs to camp? Unless your goal is to climb all three towers or it's winter, this is merely a day-trip. Apart from sleeping at the trailhead itself, I can't say where the most feasible camps would be other than at Three Queens Lake and Spectacle Lake.

Mountain Conditions

This peak lies just east of Snoqualmie Pass. It is therefore not far enough east that West-of-Crest forecasts are invalid. I have therefore added both links below:

Localized Forecast

Views of the Chimney Group

Views of nearby Hibox Mountain

Additions and Corrections

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mcphermaMineral Creek route

mcpherma

Hasn't voted

If climbing at the drainage, I found it easiest to stay to the west. The east ridge is very overgrown in spots and there are several gullies that empty into the main drainage that can pose a problem. Don't ask how I know.
Posted Sep 16, 2009 9:15 am

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