Ridge to Kaleetan Summit.jpeg

Trip Report    

Mount Roosevelt & Kaleetan Peak

Slab snow, unsafe to summit

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

A lovely day to be out in the mountains, perfect for attempting a peak with a view, it seemed. However, we set out unsure of what snow conditions we would encounter. Would the final accent of Kaleetan be bare, snow melted out due to its southern exposure?

Following the trail up to Melakwa Lake, we encountered snow maybe a mile in. After pausing at the lake for a bio break, we left the developed trail and began the scramble up the climber’s trail toward Kaleetan. At first, we scrambled through brush, dirt and rock, with the first talus field bare, only to quickly step back into snow.

Ice axes in hand and helmets donned, we continued our accent up the final steep pitch of talus, mostly covered in snow but at times bare to the heather vegetation.

We pause briefly to gather in the view at the bare South Kaleetan provisional summit, snapping a photo of the rock cairn, to quickly move north along the ridge in snow.

We’d gone less than 1/3 of a mile, on the broad ridge to where the ridge narrows. At this point our leader, Mark, stopped at gave us his appraisal that the slab snow, both on either side of the ridge and the slab snow remaining on the face route up to Kaleetan’s peak was too dangerous to attempt progressing further. We all agreed that another day with better conditions would be our choice. We were 2800 ft short of the summit, but the view and weather were glorious, very light wind, so we sat down and took lunch there on the ridge 5.5 miles in and at 5600 ft.

Returning, the steep snow-covered talus was, to date, my most challenging experience descending. I worked to get the feel of staying over my feet as I plunge stepped down. I lost purchase many, many times, giving myself lots of ice axe self-arrest practice.

Returning to the bare talus and rock scramble down to Melakwa Lake was by comparison, a relaxing decent. Again, we paused at the lake for quick bio breaks and gear adjustments before descending the hiker’s trail to our parking.

The day’s total on my Caltopo trek showed 11 miles, a gain of 4080 ft, 8 hrs. and 20 minutes. A successful scramble, even if we didn’t summit our target peak- skills were practiced and improved, friends were made and we all got back home safe.