Little Phelps

Little Phelps

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 2, 2010
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer

Little Phelps (Mount Phelps's Western Little Brother)

For some reason I was fixated on climbing "Little Phelps" from the West. Little Phelps is a name from Becky's Guide. On the USGS topo maps, "Little Phelps" is listed as Mount Phelps, and the bigger peak to the east, which Becky calls "Mount Phelps" is listed as McClain Peaks.

Because of the prominent logging roads that lead to two small lakes at 4600 feet elevation, and directly to the west of Little Phelps, I felt that this approach would be easy and fast on a bike to the 4600 level.

Drive the North Fork Snoqualmie River Road to the 4-way junction marked with elevation 1538 on the USGS topo. (marked as waypoint "Phelps Rd" on the attached track). Head north to an old bridge across the North Fork. All that's left of the bridge are the two main support logs, which span the gap. Cross on one of the logs (slippery when wet). On the north side of the crossing the connector road is over-grown. It's best to head right about 40 feet, through the creek-side trees, working north-east to the clear-cut. Bushwack north about 100 feet across the clear cut to the driveable north-side logging road.

Ride/hike the logging road east, then back north/ north-west, through a non-rideable wash-out to a junction with a contouring logging road at the 1850 foot elevation. As of August, 2010, there is active logging east of this junction, so the road is very passable/rideable at this point.

Head west and north on the driveable logging roads (see attached track), eventually reaching the ridge separating the North Folk from the Tolt watershed. Head east on the ridge-top road, which is driveable to the waypoint marked "car top". With a little bit of hike-a-bike, it's bikeable to the waypoint marked "bike" at a road junction along the ridge.

From this junction to the end of the "road" at the lakes, the "road" is just a gash through the trees. It must have been a flat/driveable surface at one point, but slides have turned the track into a sloping/tilted surface covered in loose scree. (I've also heard that the road was purposely back-filled to its original slope.) It's side-hilling on steep/loose scree all the way to the lakes. The progress is slow and difficult, especially if you're expecting a fast trip along a logging road. Very dissapointing. About 1.7 miles of trash, but awe-inspiring that someone would push a road through this steep terrain. Don't worry about your ankles: on the return trip you'll work the reverse slant.

From the road end, bush-wack about 200 meters north-east through the young re-plant evergreens (not good bush-wacking). Aim for the ridge edge and the larger old-growth trees, where the bush-wacking bascially ends and the going becomes a rather pleasant stroll through the sparse under-growth.

The ridge becomes very steep-sided on both the north and south sides. Basically stay on top, working east along the ridge. It's useful to drop off the south side at one point to avoid a gendarme/bush, but you quickly regain the ridge crest.

I stopped at the point marked the "West Smt" on the track. From this little false summit it's necessary to drop into a notch directly west of the true summit, and then climb ledges and corners across the south face of the summit block. There is about 100 vertical feet of what looks like 4th class, but with tremendous exposure. The south face here is overhanging below you, as indicated by the topo lines on the USGS. It might be possible to drop off the south side of the notch and traverse across below the south side of the summit block to the more standard east/south-east route up the final summit block, but the terrain is very steep and I couldn't really see the way because fog restricted the visability.

Summary: The approach is long and slowed by the bush-wacking/washout near the crossing of the north fork and by the slow tedious travel on the final 1.7 miles of the logging road. The summit block is non-trivial from the west.


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larryN - Oct 8, 2010 12:49 am - Voted 10/10

Great beta!

So much for Little Phelps being a walkup from the west. I had serious doubts, which is probably why I didn't get around to trying it this year.

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