Kaleetan Peak -SNOW! 

I really couldn't have asked for much more than this in late October. The skies were crystal clear and there was fresh snow that had fallen the evening before. The temperature was...very cold. I started out on FST 1014 from the Denny Creek Trailhead (c.2300') around 7:00am. There was no snow at the trailhead but the ground was frozen solid. By the time I reached Keekwulee Falls, there was light snow on the trail and on the trees. I reached Melakwa Lakes (4.5 miles, c.4500') in about 2 hours and was greeted by views of Chair Peak and Kaleetan Peak decorated with a light dusting of snow.

Chair Peak from Lower Melakwa Lake


Kaleetan Peak and Melakwa Pass from Melakwa Lakes

The route up Kaleetan seemed obvious from the lakes but it looked steep. There are a couple of route options that merge on the South Ridge below the steep rock of the summit. I was planning to take the "South Ridge" but there is also a route from near Melakwa Pass that would probably be a better choice, particularly if the talus slope leading to the pass was snow covered. From the outlet of the lower lake, I followed a path that quickly led to a toilet. There was snow here but it appeared that a faint path continued upward. At any rate, I ascended to the forested ridge crest where there was certainly a path (this is the SE ridge of Point 5700', not really the South Ridge of Kaleetan). I followed it up the ridge to a steep rocky section that can be climbed directly (class 2) with little difficulty or by-passed by traversing right to a gully. Above the rocky step there was a short talus field then forest and more talus to reach Point 5700' and the South Ridge of Kaleetan. 

A closer look at Kaleetan from Point 5700'

The south ridge is rocky and jagged, forcing a descent into the talus basin south of Kaleetan. I descend 300-400 feet then traversed and ascended back to the ridge. A path followed the crest to the steep upper ridge then traversed onto the south slope and climbed toward a now obvious gully. When on the ridge it was obvious where the route from near Melakwa Pass reaches the ridge. If you take this route the gully that gains the ridge probably won't be visible until you are just below the pass. 

The final gully scramble (class 2) turned out to be far easier than it appeared from below. After about 200 feet I reached the summit area and was greeted by a great view. The temperature remained cold and it was breezy but the view was well worth the discomfort. 

Chair Peak and well beyond from Kaleetan Peak


Chair Peak Lake in the process of becoming an ice cube

I started down and was hoping to descend the gully toward Melakwa Pass. The gully had considerably more powdery snow concealing the features of the gully (NE aspect) and a lot of down sloping rock near the top. I decided to descend the way I had come up. The gully didn't seem very difficult (class 2), but the conditions were less than ideal. The "South Ridge" route is not a bad route but spends far less time on the ridge than I expected it to.


Cascade Alpine Guide, volume 1, 2nd edition; Page 152, 153
Climbing Washington's Mountains; Jeff Smoot; Pages 238-242