White 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
, 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.
WCP-3 from Hoodoo Lake
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.
WCP-3 stands in the northern portion of the White Clouds amongst a group of striking pale peaks, most without official names. Maps identify the general area as "White Cloud Peaks". Several of the peaks are informally identified simply by a WCP-#. Absence of official names is certainly not a result of an unimpressive stature, for there are numerous striking mountains in the vicinity. It is more likely that they remain nameless because of very infrequent use by hikers and climbers. Most folks just aren't aware of the beauty of this group of peaks because they are not visible from any main roads and the nearby Sawtooths
tend to overshadow them a bit.
White Cloud Peaks
There 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.
There 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 Climb
The 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.
Mountain ConditionsBelow are some good staring points for finding current conditions in the area:
Even with the obscure nature of the area, there are actually at least two guidebooks with details on this region.