Three Fools Peak via Slate Peak + Holman Pass in Pasayten / 三愚人峯

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Three Fools Peak in Pasayten Wilderness is the sixth tallest peak in South Hozameen Range after Hozomeen Mountain. Moreover, Slate Peak and Holman Pass via West Fork Pasayten River offer the shortest way to the high point.

Three Fools Peak above Woody Pass
Three Fools Peak above Woody Pass

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Three Fools Peak at a Glance

Lakeview Slam = Powder Mountain + Three Fools Peak + Soda Peak + Shull Mountain
湖景滿貫=粉末山+三愚人峯+蘇打峯+沙爾山

Environs = Slate Peak + Rusty Pyramid
週圍地區=石板峯+鐵鏽金字塔

Access: West Fork Pasayten River Trailhead
Round Trip: 51.5 miles
Elevation Range: 4800′-7920′
Gear: helmet
Route Info: Adam Zukowski, Eric Eames
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

July 17-19, 2021

Day 1 – Saturday, July 17
Slate Peak + Powder Mountain
Night 1 – Woody Pass

Day 2 – Sunday, July 18
Three Fools Peak + Rusty Pyramid + Soda Peak
Night 2 – Holman Pass

Day 3 – Monday, July 19
Shull Mountain + Exit


Day 1

Slate Peak + Powder Mountain

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

The Preface on Three Fools Peak

We were on the way to Andrews Creek Trailhead last night when Cub Creek 2 Fire broke out. So we left the line of cars and went back to the highway to see our backup plans. Then we drove west through Mazama to Hart’s Pass.

It was our first time through West Fork Pasayten River and the northwesternmost we’d been via North Cascades Highway. Over three days, we also climbed Powder Mountain, Soda Peak, Rusty Pyramid, and Shull Mountain.

Here, the elevation differential is 400′ greater, losing 2400′ at the Holman Creek Trail turnoff. On the other hand, it’s a 2000′ altitude loss in the middle fork to Eureka Creek Trail and longer by a mile.

Slate Peak in the mists
Slate Peak in the mists

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Slate Peak Above Slate Pass

After a night near Hart’s Pass, we drove past Slate Pass to the road’s end by the gate. Then Slate Peak was only a 10-minute walk-up from there. So we checked out this easily accessible roadside attraction by the trail.

A few minutes on the misty peak, and then we went down to the trailhead on the south side. Like the middle fork, we lost altitude as soon as we started walking. Shortly, I saw our weekend goals up the valley.

Lookout tower on Slate Peak
Lookout tower on Slate Peak

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West Fork Pasayten River Trail

We started the quiet walk with broad views to the north. But I couldn’t identify our peaks from afar since we hadn’t been here before. The decent trail had tree debris in several places as it slowly dropped into the forest.

The trail dipped 200′ straight down to West Fork Pasayten River at mile four. Then it stayed alongside the water for another mile before crossing to the west. Before the crossing, there was a big, established group camp.

This way to Three Fools Peak
This way to Three Fools Peak

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En Route to Holman Pass

More trees showed up past the shallow river, but most crisscrossed the path. Oregon Creek had the worst log piles that made us reroute in a big circle. Beyond that point, we went over and under more windfalls.

Soon, a group of trees across the Holman Creek Trail fork made us reroute again. Then the first mile to Holman Pass through more rubble was the most painful. Afterward, it thinned out as we neared the pass through the grassland.

The longest two miles to Holman Pass
The longest two miles to Holman Pass

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Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

Holman Creek Trail met the PCT on the long and flat Holman Pass with several camps. Then we made a right onto the PCT with spotty views. Later, we met a hiker on their way back from the border by the first stream.

The trail slowly went uphill, and we saw Shull Mountain east of Canyon Creek. Soon, the terrain widened as we strolled through the green but dry Rock Lakes Basin. Then we reached Rock Pass 14 miles from the car.

Shull Mountain from the PCT
Shull Mountain from the PCT

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Rock Pass to Powder Mountain

After a power nap in the shade, we crossed the top of Canyon Creek Basin to Point 7081’s south saddle. I had planned to climb Shull Mountain from there. But after some checking, I knew it wasn’t feasible for the pups.

So I decided to save the mountain for the last day and go up to Powder Mountain today instead. Then we went over to the north of Point 7081 and up the mountain’s rocky southeast side. Before long, we were atop the summit.

This way to Powder Mountain
This way to Powder Mountain

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Powder Mountain Summit Views

Shull Mountain’s north face looked pretty gnarly. But Shull Lake at the bottom looked like a great place to camp. From here, I scoped out the route to our following two goals–Three Fools Peak and Soda Peak.

The plan was to camp on Woody Pass below the north ridge. But after losing time trying out the gullies, none was suitable for the dogs. So we took the long way back at Rock Pass, through the PCT and Rock Creek.

Northern panoramic view to Three Fools Peak and Soda Peak
Northern panoramic view to Three Fools Peak and Soda Peak

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En Route to Woody Pass by Three Fools Peak

The sky darkened back at Rock Pass. To avoid losing more altitude in Rock Creek, we went north on a faint trail from the pass. But the scree off Powder Mountain’s east face has long buried the old path.

Back at the pass, the PCT took us down to 5800′. Then it made half a dozen switchbacks to the top of the basin as we walked past one tent. I kept the dogs on leash, fearing they’d take off to check out the campers.

Pacific Crest Trail at work
Pacific Crest Trail at work

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A Night on Woody Pass

Finding a decent camp spot away from the trail took some time. But farther off the beaten path was more grass and uneven ground. Then we settled on the only place by a larch tree that offered some privacy.

The pass didn’t have running water but the nearby ice sheets. But it was fascinating to see ice around in the middle of a warm summer. After melting snow, we ate a quick dinner before crashing inside the tent.

End of day one
End of day one

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Day 2

Three Fools Peak + Rusty Pyramid + Soda Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Three Fools Peak Climb

We continued north on the PCT for under half a mile in the morning. Three Fools Peak was the most direct without much route-finding of our goals. Before leaving the path, we chatted with a few thru-hikers going to the border.

We walked up the gentle west slopes as views expanded. Along the way, we stopped a few times to savor the sights of the familiar peaks. Soon, heather turned into rocks as we went up the last few hundred feet.

Looking back at Powder Mountain
Looking back at Powder Mountain

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Three Fools Peak Summit Views

To the south was the dramatic view of Powder Mountain’s north side. But I only saw the top of Shull Mountain from here. Then I turned to see the way to our next goal–Soda Peak over two linear miles away.

The stunning sight included Jack Mountain, Picket Range, and Crater Mountain to the west. But I didn’t recognize Castle Peak until I checked the map. It took a second to know I was seeing Hozomeen Mountain.

Northern panoramic view on Three Fools Peak
Northern panoramic view on Three Fools Peak

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Leaving Three Fools Peak

The southwest gully was doable, but not sure how the pups would handle it. Though, it was the most direct way without going back to Rock Creek. So we played by ear and moved down through the chose and landed in Coney Basin safely.

We would reach Soda Peak in three miles if adding in all the turns. But we needed to go through two high points plus Rusty Pyramid first. Then we’d either bypass or go over the false peak before the summit.

Leaving Three Fools Peak
Leaving Three Fools Peak

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Rusty Pyramid from Three Fools Peak

The water we got below the gully would be our last for a while. Soon, we moved east through the green meadow up to Point 7204. Coney Basin looked like another idyllic camp spot away from the beaten path.

We traversed the crest and easily avoided krummholz and rock steps along the way. Then below Point 7354, we moved to the south to bypass the rocky ridgeline. Before long, we were atop the sandy high point.

Looking back at Three Fools Peak
Looking back at Three Fools Peak

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Rusty Pyramid Climb

From here, Rusty Pyramid was only .25 mile across the joining ridge. So we continued down the crest and up the other side to the peak without stopping. Views were as good here as anywhere else in the area.

Soda Peak was one more mile away. After a quick break, we dropped onto the east ridge and stayed mainly on the crest for the traverse. But sometimes, we needed to move to either side to bypass outcrops.

Next up, Rusty Pyramid
Next up, Rusty Pyramid

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Final Stop, Soda Peak

We ran out of water a while ago. Plus, snow along the ridge was too far down for the pups to reach. But I knew there had to be running water on Soda Peak’s south side. It’d be our best option should we exit that way.

It was only half a mile to Soda Peak from the false peak. As the crest became increasingly rocky, we slowly moved to the south side. Then it was the typical choss and big rock piles to steer through to the top.

The route to Soda Peak
The route to Soda Peak

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Soda Peak Summit Views

Soda Peak was the farthest east and north away from the rest of our main goals. If we weren’t climbing Shull Mountain, I’d consider continuing east until we reached West Fork Pasayten River at the bottom to exit.

Castle Peak and other notable high points continued to steal the show. I also saw a few more goals to the north. From here, I took actual notice of Cedar Creek Fire‘s smoke spewing from behind Robinson Mountain.

Southwestern panoramic view on Soda Peak
Southwestern panoramic view on Soda Peak

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Leaving Soda Peak

I didn’t want to put the pups through the ridge traverse again. So we dropped onto the south down the gentle terrain. Even if Rock Creek Trail were in bad shape, it’d still be faster than going over the ridge.

I glanced back at Soda Peak in the basin. It sure looked like a more pleasant way to climb the peak if we weren’t climbing Three Fools Peak. Soon, through brush and open forest, we reached Rock Creek Trail.

Looking back at Soda Peak
Looking back at Soda Peak

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Back to Woody Pass by Three Fools Peak

The trail was in much better shape than I had thought. We only needed to step over a handful of down trees in the forest. It was smooth sailing to the PCT fork and Woody Pass past the large debris by Coney Creek.

I wanted to sleep on Holman Pass tonight close to Shull Mountain. But the thought of walking 800′ up to Rock Pass wasn’t my idea of relaxation at the day’s end. So we quickly packed, ate, and left the area before dark.

En Route to Woody Pass by Three Fools Peak
En Route to Woody Pass by Three Fools Peak

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A Night on Holman Pass

We quietly walked past a group of campers by Rock Creek as the sky darkened. The one campsite back in Goat Lakes Basin looked enticing. Then it was another three miles before we returned to Holman Pass.

I later remembered that the pass had no water. So we walked down Holman Creek Trail for a while, hoping to find trickles in the grassland. But there was none, and so we waited until the next day.

End of day two
End of day two

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Day 3

Shull Mountain + Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

En Route to Shull Mountain

We headed west from the pass on Devils Ridge Trail the next day. We chatted with two nearby campers thru-hiking the PCT before continuing. Then we went through piles of large tree debris on the way to Canyon Creek.

The trail ended by the creek, where we took a break to enjoy the precious water. But we somehow had lost it on the other side of the water. So we scrambled a bit before finding it again under a big windfall.

Rise and shine on day three
Rise and shine on day three

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Devils Ridge Trail

There continued to be down trees along the trail. Views in the trees were scarce, with occasional glimpses across the valley. Canyon Creek was our last place for water as we found none along the buggy trail.

We later met a PCT thru-hiker rerouting on the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) because of trail closures. After a brief chat, we parted way before he went to Holman Pass. Soon, we left the trail as it continued south to Sky Pilot Pass.

West view to Holman Pass
West view to Holman Pass

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Final Stretch on Shull Mountain

After going through 600′ of trees, we were in the green meadow below Shull Mountain’s south peak. We walked up to the east bench with the broad south view. Then from the small pond on the north, we went over Point 6522 to the north side.

We soon went north-northwest while working our way through scree and snow. But as the terrain steepened higher up, it forced us inside a narrow gully above a ravine. After looking for ways to bypass the overhang, I asked the pups to wait.

Above the class 4 crux
Above the class 4 crux

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Shull Mountain Summit Views

Then with a few tricky moves, I made my way above the crux. Then it was pure choss before heather and rocks showed up again below the top. Before long, I stood on the extensive summit marveling at the seemingly equally tall south peak.

I checked out the serene Shull Lake to the north before reuniting with the pups in the gully. Views were just as gorgeous as the other high points. But it was the southernmost peak we’ve visited this weekend.

One final look at Shull Mountain
Northern panoramic view on Shull Mountain

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Back to Holman Pass

We took our time downclimbing through the gravel-covered slabs by the ravine. Once we were back at the snow, it was a milder train down to the meadow. Then it only took a short time before we reached the trail, returning to Holman Pass.

I enjoyed the scenery in the upper-left corner of Pasayten Wilderness. But the warm weather and the down trees had made the hiking less pleasant. I made sure I got enough water before the pass since we’d be without any until Pasayten River.

One final look at Shull Mountain
One final look at Shull Mountain

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Leaving Three Fools Peak and Friends

It’s ten miles of an uneventful walk back up to Slate Peak. I had thought about exiting through the PCT for different scenery. But the rolling terrain after a long trip wasn’t too enticing despite having views.

We didn’t see anyone else walking the Pasayten Trail during our time here. Perhaps the down trees and the smoke had turned most away. Before leaving the river, we napped at the group camp and then finished the rest of the trip.

One final look
One final look

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Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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