Three Queens by Hibox Mountain via Mineral Creek / 三皇后

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Three Queens by Hibox Mountain towers above Mineral Creek in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It’s the second-highest point on Chikamin Ridge after Chikamin Peak. Moreover, it boasts stunning views of the most rugged area in Central Cascades.

Three Queens from the southeast
Three Queens from the southeast

See more trip photos here.

Three Queens at a Glance

Access: Mineral Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 7.7 miles
Elevation Range: 2360′-6687
Gear: helmet
Route Info: SummitPost.org
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no on the summit block

The Preface on Three Queens

Happy Fourth of July! I took my first photo of Three Queens atop Iron Peak 11 years ago. Even as a novice scrambler, I knew this unique peak wouldn’t be a walk in the park. So I continued to admire it from other places over the years.

It was only in recent years that I started researching the peak. I figured now was as good of a time as ever before I started to lose interest. So after picking up the dogs from boarding, we headed to Salmon La sac over the holiday.

First Mineral Creek crossing
First Mineral Creek crossing

See more trip photos here.

Mineral Creek Trail

Our second time started from an empty lot before coming to Mineral Creek shortly. The only way to avoid fording was to scooch on the skinny, wet log. But as it dipped near the water on the far end, I crossed my feet behind me to finish.

Like before, we walked the decent trail before seeing rocks and tree roots on the path. Mineral Creek level was higher this time to cross on rocks. But to the right, two large crisscrossing logs led us over the rapid stream without a hitch.

Second Mineral Creek crossing
Second Mineral Creek crossing

See more trip photos here.

Three Queens South Route

SummitPost.org suggests leaving the trail north of Mineral Creek. But instead, I decided it would be better to do so west of the broad waterfall gully. Crossing it higher up would be a hassle if it turned into a ravine.

Beyond the clearing, we dove right into vine maples at .25 mile from the creek. After the first 200′, the brush faded as the minor ridge began to form at 3300′. The sounds of the waterfall were within earshot to the east.

Three Queens south route
Three Queens south route

See more trip photos here.

Southeast Shoulder

The landscape widened as we walked up the steep incline. Just above the trees was the first sighting of Kachess Lake. Before long, spotty views of Lobox Mountain and Hibox Mountain on Box Ridge were constant.

A large snow ramp showed up at 5200′ and went up 450′ before it ended. Soon, the grass gave way to scree over the rocky terrain. Then Three Queens’ three peaks appeared as we looked for a decent spot to reach the southeast shoulder at 6200′.

First view of Three Queens
First view of Three Queens

See more trip photos here.

Three Queens Northeast Ridge

Three Queens’ impressive east face looked quite daunting from the ridge. After soaking in the views for a half-hour, we traversed .25 mile over the steep snow to the northeast ridge. Then I took a second to check out the route.

It soon became apparent that the dogs couldn’t continue on the sheer ridgeline. But of course, the black pup had to test it out for himself first before retreating. Then off to the final thrilling 400′ I went!

Aiming for the northeast ridge
Aiming for the northeast ridge

See more trip photos here.

The Final Stretch

En route was lots of rocks that could peel off if not checked closely. But I pounded on every questionable stone several times before putting my weight on it. I hugged the crest in the lower part, where I found decent holds.

But higher up, it made sense to move to the crest’s west for solid holds. I went through a gully that was perhaps doable from the lake below. For the final bit, I reached the summit ridge from the west for a “milder” finish.

400 feet of sweetness
400 feet of sweetness

See more trip photos here.

Three Queens Summit Views

After years of seeing this lonely massif atop Kachess Lake, I finally got to experience the awesomeness. As I expected, the views didn’t disappoint! Though, I wish the pups were also up for the stunning vistas.

Chimney Rock et al. made up most of the view to the northwest. Chikamin Peak and Lemah Mountain were ever-so gorgeous in the afternoon clouds. But it was pretty exciting to see Spectacle Lake for the first time.

Western panoramic view
Western panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Leaving the Mountain

I constantly checked out the dogs by the snow as they looked up at times. After a long visit on top, soaking in the views, I went down to join them. But it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to bring a rope instead of downclimbing.

It seemed to have taken the same amount of time to descend. But to say that the northeast ridge was “class 3” was a bit generous. Without a path or cairns en route, it’s likely to get into class 4 terrain around the summit area.

Waiting patiently
Waiting patiently

See more trip photos here.

Outro

I made the error of going into the gully, where I found more gravel-covered slabs. But I was able to return to the crest before things became spicy. I certainly experienced performance anxiety as the dogs looked on intensely.

The pups wallowed in the snow as we dillydallied over the snow below the east face. Then we fast plunge-stepped the snow ramp on the south side. I later f found larger logs 500′ downstream to scooch at the first water crossing.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Susan Shih

    Great photos and trip report as usual, John. I would love to do this peak one day. Hope all is well!

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