Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Kaleetan Peak

Cascades  •  September 7

It has been a great summer for my mountain pursuits. So far I have been fortunate to bag a number of training climbs, plus Wy’East… Tahoma… Olympus… Loowit… backpacking in the Alpine Lakes…. What more could I ask for?

Kaleetan, that’s what.

Tom proposed a group outing to the North Cascades, but only I was able to join… and the weather really did not look like it would cooperate, with thunderstorms predicted for Saturday afternoon… these are very unusual here in Western Washington. But… perhaps we could thread the needle and get up and down Kaleetan before things turned ugly. I had climbed the “Little Matterhorn” years earlier with Doug, so I knew the route and we could be efficient. We decided to give it a go.

And so we did.

The Tooth… Tom and I climbed this years ago with our buddy Matt.
Waterfall below The Tooth.
Still plenty of wildflowers up here.
Chair Peak across the lake.
Looking across the lake at Bryant Peak.
Taking in the air above Melakwa.
Granite on the left, Tahoma in the distance.
Cloud cover is most welcome today.
Our route takes us directly up the center couloir to the true summit on the right side of flattish top.
Looking back at Melakwa from the base of the summit block.
Some rugged terrain below the summit block.
Quick selfie before the summit scramble.
Summit Panorama looking south.
Tahoma and the summit cairn.
Looking down at the Alpine Lake District.
The summit marker, placed here in 1930. Vectors to prominent peaks are featured.
Gem Lake! Zoe and I were there a few weeks ago!
Chair Peak seen from the top of Kaleetan.
Tahoma grows a cloud plume….
Summit selfie.
Buddies on the summit.
Heading down, Melakwa in distance on the left.

Just perfect conditions, and almost no one else up there. On the way down, below Melakwa, a sea of humanity… but, up high, only a handful. Beautiful cap to a really special summer climbing season for me. That night we were amazed to watch scores, in fact hundreds, of major lightning strikes land all around us. Better to watch this from the comfort of home than atop a mountain.

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