OverviewWhite Cloud Peak #3 (WCP-3) is located in the White Cloud Mountains of central Idaho. With four distinct ridgelines, WCP-3 has a pyramidal shape when viewed from most directions. It is an attractive peak composed primarily of light colored metamorphed limestone, which is very reflective in nature and can change in appearance depending on lighting conditions. It is particularly striking when viewed in the morning sunlight. It is not the tallest peak in the area by any means, but does stand out visibly because of the pyramidal shape and a fair amount of clean prominence from other nearby peaks.
The summit of WCP-3 provides an outstanding viewpoint to take in the surrounding area and other beautiful peaks. Of particular interest is the row of peaks lining the ridge east of Ocaulkens Lake (Chinese Wall, Caulkens Peak, WCP-9, and D.O. Lee Peak). In addition, you get an unobstructed view of the other three WCP’s surrounding very remote Swimm Lake (WCP-5, WCP-4, and WCP-2) as well as WCP-1, located on the connecting ridge to the north of WCP-3.
Despite being one of the more easily reachable summits in the northern White Clouds, WCP-3 sees very few visitors. This is partially due to the obscure nature of the area, as well as the fact that easiest approach route via the north ridge is not well documented. There is no register on the summit, and not even a cairn to give a feel for the frequency of visitors. If you chose to climb this peak, you will likely have the summit and approach to yourself.
|Northern "White Cloud Peaks"|
|Name||Elevation||Lat / Lon|
|Caulkens||11500'+||44.1182°N / 114.6233°W|
|D.O. Lee||11342'||44.1028°N / 114.6287°W|
|WCP-9||11263'||44.1119°N / 114.6267°W|
|WCP-10||11102'||44.1178°N / 114.6093°W|
|WCP-7||10777'||44.1226°N / 114.6526°W|
|WCP-5||10597'||44.1356°N / 114.6573°W|
|WCP-3||10588'||44.1562°N / 114.6599°W|
|WCP-8||10557'||44.1052°N / 114.6458°W|
|Watson||10453'||44.1311°N / 114.6846°W|
|WCP-4||10450'||44.1379°N / 114.6772°W|
|WCP-1||10353'||44.1687°N / 114.6578°W|
|WCP-2||10271'||44.1586°N / 114.6758°W|
|WCP-6||10256'||44.1307°N / 114.6469°W|
Getting ThereThere are a few different route options for WCP-3, with the most likely ones beginning from the Slate Creek trailhead. To get there from the beautiful mountain town of Stanley, go northeast on Highway 75 for 24 miles (or 34 miles southwest from Challis). Just after the highway crosses the Salmon River, there is a turnoff to the right (south) for Slate Creek. Follow the road for 0.8 miles until you reach a fork. Take the left branch and follow the dirt Slate Creek Road (FS666) until it ends at around 7 miles from where it leaves the highway.
At the trailhead you’ll find the Slate Creek Hot Springs to soak your tired feet, just keep your eyes to yourself. There are also some old mine buildings nearby that you should stay away from as well as big mounds of silty mine tailings.
Making camp at the Slate Creek trailhead may be an option, especially if you want to soak in the hot-springs. But there aren't many spots to pitch a tent and the nearby scenery is somewhat diminished by the mine buildings in the vicinity. The nearest improved camping is at the Holman Creek Campground down on the Salmon River, just off HWY 75. There are also several unimproved camping areas alongside Slate Creek Road.
If you prefer to backpack in closer to WCP-3, great campsites can be made along the north ridge approach at Hoodoo Lake or in the 8900' basin above Hoodoo Lake. Swimm Lake also looks like a great place to camp, especially if you want total isolation, but it is very remote so getting there would be quite an undertaking.
Red TapeThere aren't any permits or parking passes needed, so no red tape to speak of. Just steer clear of the mine buildings near the trailhead and respect the fragile nature of the alpine basin above Hoodoo Lake. Just tread lightly in general.
When To ClimbThe summer climbing season in the White Clouds is typically from middle July until the snow flies in October. A snow climb may be feasible earlier in the year on the northeast face of WCP-3, but would require crossing a couple streams swollen by snow run off and the approach would be longer depending on spring road conditions to the Slate Creek trailhead.
GuidebooksEven with the obscure nature of the area, there are actually at least two guidebooks with details on this region.
- Idaho: A Climbing Guide by Tom Lopez – This is far and away the premier mountaineering text for the state, with an entire section devoted to the White Clouds.
- Trails of the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains by Margaret Fuller – Detailed descriptions of hikes in the White Clouds and neighboring Sawtooths. Includes approach information on how to get to Hoodoo Lake.