West Wellesley Peak (aka Peak 6490) is a remote and less dominant peak in the central/eastern Olympic Mountains. It overlooks the glorious expanse of Thousand Acre Meadow from the east, where it forms somewhat of a rim around the upper meadow. West Wellesley Peak is the main access route to reach it's bigger brother, Wellesley Peak to the east. It has the unique distinction of not just being a peak, but a duet of peaks that have equal summit heights of 6490 feet. Both peaks overlook Wellesley Basin and Knerr Creek to the east. Point 6370 and the Dosewallips River form a natural boundary to the north, and Silt Creek flows from it's headwaters on the southern boundary. Thousand Acre Meadow lies at the western edge of the peaks and provides easy access to the summit.
With only 410 feet of prominence, West Wellesley Peak is an easy peak to approach and climb from Thousand Acre Meadow. A small series of alpine tarns dot it's western slopes and are great camping areas with easy access to the peaks. One can ascend the west face of West Wellesley Peak via a hike across Thousand Acre Meadow to the southeast.
Only minor scrambling is needed to reach the summit, after an initial hike up the west slopes. The east face, however, drops quickly down into Wellesley Basin, over 1,000 feet below. Its rugged pinnacles overlook the Knerr Creek headwaters that flow into the Dosewallips River to the north. An ascent from this side is class two and above. Much bushwhacking up Knerr Creek and across Slide Alder choked streams is necessary. In Wellesley Basin the eastern walls rise steeply upward and have seen recent decay and minor avalanche activity.
Exceptional views can be had from the summit of Wellesley Peak to the east, which dominates the skyline. Mount Mystery, Mount Constance, Mount Deception and the Anderson Massif round out the major eastern peaks visible from the summit. The Brothers and Piro's Spire stand out vertically to the south, and this peak offers one of the better views of their uncommonly seen faces in the whole range. Mount Olympus above all it's subsidiary subjects to the west. Mount's Christie, Noyes, Meany, Queets and Seattle loom beneath the hulk of Olympus. Sentinel Peak and Sentinel's Sister, as well as Mt's Fromme,Claywood round out the peaks that guard the head of the Dosewallips River Valley. The view down into the Silt Creek valley, as well as to the southwest of Sentinel Peak is outstanding.
Getting To West Wellesley Peak
The approach is long up the Dosewallips River and into Thousand Acre Meadow, about 20 miles (since the Dosewallips road washout). From Thousand Acre Meadow can be reached by turning off the trail, before reaching Hayden Pass, and heading southeast (to the east of Sentinel Peak). The meadow itself gains some minor elevation as it gradually climbs up to the base of West Wellesley Peak.
Ascend from the tarn at it's base up the slopes to the southeast to reach the summit. A ridge between the two summits provides easy traversing to reach either peak. The east end drops sharply over the edge and into Wellesley Basin, however, so watch your step. The total distance by trail and foot to reach West Wellesley Peak is roughly 22 miles. The rewards are worth it, with one of the better views to be had in the Eastern part of the range.
The Dosewallips River trail requires a $5.00 dollar fee for each person to enter the park and $2.00 per night per person to spend the night. Make sure and fill out the appropriate paper work not far from the trailhead before entering the National Park. Be sure to check in with the ranger at the ranger station (if he's there) if you have any further questions regarding this permit.
Thousand Acre Meadow is by far the best camping spot in the Dosewallips region. Views encompass three passes (Cameron, Lost and Hayden) as well as of the towering Sentinel Peak and Mount's Fromme and Claywood, and the view of West Wellesley Peak's west face. Several alpine tarns dot it's upper slopes and a few tree's provide shelter and the ability to hang your own bear wire. Be gentle and tread softly on this beautiful meadow, which teems with mossy streams and gorgeous wildflowers.