A Kick in the Butte – McClellan

I fought the snow and the … wait, I won!

Hikes, Summits, Trip Report
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

 Location: I-90
 Length: <8 miles RT (from the “secret” upper trailhead”)
 Elevation: ~2900 feet
 Summit: 5162 feet

Snagged this after a ridiculous slog through the heavy lingering snow. After cheating a bit (I parked at the much overlooked intersection with FS 9020 and knocked a mile off the route), I took off up the trail. I hit snow at about 3400 feet, and it just kept getting deeper.

I fought to find the route, relying heavily on my GPS to keep me on the trail and my microspikes and ice axe to keep me ON the trail. After a bit of slogging and slow going, I said “to hell with it” and decided to forgo the route around the ridge opting to instead shoot up and over.

I ended up downclimbing a bit on the western slope and again consulted my GPS. No tracks at all, so I laid my own. I feel bad for the poor souls who had to follow me up.

Nevertheless, I made the summit (which is pretty much snow-free) and hung out for a couple hours. A few others came and went.

I made the decision that I wasn’t going to fight the mushy slurpee snow on the west slope and chose to downclimb the eastern face off the saddle. MUCH BETTER (for me). Once I got off the rocks and onto one of the snow slopes, I used a combo of plunge-stepping, involuntary glissading, and swear-inducing gaiter failure to quickly descend to the “trail”.

If you plan on bagging this in the near future, I suggest your microspikes, an ice-axe, give yourself plenty of time, and really, just up-climb the snow slope on the east to the saddle. Yes, it’s still avvy season, but nothing up there is going to move and there aren’t any cornices up top to worry about. Just use your best judgement.

3.25 hours up and 1.25 back down. Wet feet.

 Getting there:
For the “upper trailhead” drive I-90 to exit 38 and turn south. Head east on SE Homestead Road on the pavement and drive a mile or so until you see FS 9020 on your right. Head up that for (sorry, didn’t clock it [gah, what good am I?!]) a mile or two and look for the McClellan Butte trail crossing the road. It’s signed.

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