Kaleetan Peak is one of the more important summits among the bank of chiseled rock stanchions immediately north and northwest of Snoqualmie Pass. It is also a fairly popular scrambler's objective. Kaleetan is the 2nd-highest summit in this area behind Snoqualmie Mountain
. Kaleetan is slightly higher than Chair Peak
, which is about a half-a-mile to the east.
Kaleetan means "arrow" in the Native American tongue. This is certainly an apt descriptor--especially when viewed from the south or north. From a distance the peak's sharp form is readily distinguishable from its neighbors, though from the north it is often mistaken for Mt. Thomson
(compare this picture
with this picture
). From many perspectives, the mountain looks quite ominous, its summit chamber impenetrable. However, there is actually an easy (Class 3) way up its South Ridge. The peak was also once known as "The Matterhorn." This would also have been an apt name but, for me at least, it is not as appropriate as "Kaleetan." There are too many "Matterhorns" out there. There is only one
Kaleetan (that I know of).
Rock is granodiorite of the Snoqualmie Batholith. The probable first ascent was in 1916.
Kaleetan Peak is 4 miles NW of Snoqualmie Pass. To get to Snoqualmie Pass, drive east on I-90 from Seattle or west from Ellensburg. Snoqualmie Pass is one of the well-known passes in the state. You should be able to find it easily. As for climbing Kaleetan itself, there are a number of ways to make the approach. You could approach via Snow Lake or by the Pratt River. These are not only longer but more troublesome. Instead, I will only present the standard approach and route via Denny Creek on the south. Some cursory information will also be presented later for other, more technical routes.
South Route (Denny Creek Approach)
This approach and climb route begins at the Denny Creek Trailhead. To get to this trailhead, you can take either Exit 47 (Asahel Curtis) or Exit 52 (West Summit at Snoqualmie Pass). From Exit 47, cross the overpass to the north side of the freeway then take the paved road (Old Highway 10) extending up the valley for 2.6 miles to the turn left to the Denny Creek Tailhead. The trailhead is another 0.2 miles up this dirt side road. From Exit 52, cross to the north side of the freeway as if going to Alpental Ski Area. But instead of going to the ski area, stay straight at the T-junction and go down-valley, crossing under the freeway. In 2.7 miles from the Exit 52 off-ramp you will come to a turn off to the right. Take this to the Denny Creek Trailhead. Note for those approaching from the east on I-90:
There is no off-ramp for westbound I-90 at Exit 52. You have to take Exit 53 at Hyak then take the road along the ski hills south of the freeway to get to Exit 52.
From the trailhead (2,280 ft) your first objective is Melakwa Lake (4,500 ft). On the way, you will pass Keekwulee Falls (in 2 miles), Snowshoe Falls (in 2.5 miles), and cross Hemlock Pass (in 3.6 miles). From the pass (4,600+ ft), the trail skirts across forest to the lake (4 miles from the car). Chair Peak will be due north of the lake. If you were to walk around the south side of the lake for a couple hundred yards you'd be able to see Kaleetan off to the NNW. Melakwa Pass is the saddle between Kaleetan and Chair. It is the ultimate head of the Pratt River. You won't be going there.
From the outlet stream of the lake (a diminutive Pratt River), find a path leading up the ridge to the NNW to Pt. 5700. The path crests Pt. 5700 then continues along the far side for a spell until the ridge gets too craggy to stay on. At this point the path drops several hundred feet into the west-facing basin draining to tiny My Lake. The path crosses talus in the basin before climbing once again to the ridge. The last few hundred yards are back on the ridge until the final summit gully. This gully is an easy Class 3. It is about 160 vertical feet high. The summit itself is fairly exposed, though, so be careful.
Other Climbing Routes
The East Face
is reportedly not that hard. Class 4? It looks steep to me though.
The North Ridge
is low 5th Class. The hardest part about that route would be getting to it--probably by a traverse from Mt. Roosevelt. The traverse is exposed and forces you to drop down to the east side of the ridge. Here is a trip report for a failed bid at this route
: unreported (or unknown by me).
When To Climb
Conceivably, this climb can be done all year. The trailhead is generally accessible all year...unless it isn't. It would sort of depend on the elevation of the snowline (trailhead is at 2,280 ft). In winter, the climbing--especially in the final gully--would be more dangerous. Although, in winter, the gully may be snow-filled, thus making it easier. All in all, the best window for climbing this peak would be May to November. Autumn hikes might provide the most vibrant scenery.
That pesky Trail Park Pass is (currently) required at the trailhead. Kaleetan is also within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, so don't mess with anything.
This is a day-climb. However, good camping could be found at the outlet of Melakwa Lake if you need it. Although, others might not like seeing someone camped there. There may be other camp spots around the lake. I can't say for sure.
This peak lies just west of the Cascade Crest.
Snoqualmie Pass weather forecast
Views from the Mountain