I hiked up McClellan Butte last Monday with my friend Ariana, and we hit the trail at about 9:30am after a quick stop at a lovely cafe in North Bend. The road to the trailhead was still closed but only added about a quarter mile each way. We started up the trail, which was mostly dry for the first couple of miles, as we passed by a few old logging roads. Luckily the signage was real clear so we never wondered which trail to take. When the trail began to switchback up about the 3200 foot level, the snow really became continuous however there were tracks from a few parties that had ascended the previous week of great weather. Just as the switchbacks ended and the trail began the long ascending traverse across the SE slopes of McClellan, we started heading straight up the first open gully we came across leading directly towards the summit.
Despite the forecast calling for some rain during the afternoon, we made out way up the snow gully, and found a way up onto the rocks. We scrambled up class 3 wet rock with the occasional class 4 move or two until we entered another, narrower snow gully which narrowed to just a few feet wide at a choke point where we had to squeeze through a few scraggly trees. Ariana did incredible for never having scrambled on rock before.
We emerged onto the final 100 foot open snow slope to the summit. To my amazement, we even got some sunbreaks as we reached the summit around 2pm. We even saw the base of Rainier off to the south! Instead of descending the more difficult route we took on ascent, we started down the normal route which swings way around to the south to bypass the steeper rocky faces on the upper SE face. It was a longer hike back but we amazingly made it back to the trailhead just minutes before the rain started at about 6pm.
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