McClellan Butte/North Couloir

Climb the striking North Couloir of this classic peak near Snoqualmie Pass. The couloir is visible from I-90 and is a Grade II snow and ice climb up to 50 degrees with possible rock climbing near the top. A notable feature of this route is the continuous avalanche chute. In the event of an avalanche, it would be almost impossible to escape its path.

getting there

Take Exit 42 off of I-90 and head east on Forest Road 55 (West Tinkham Road) for 0.25 mile and turn right into the McClellan Butte trailhead parking lot (1,600 ft). 


Follow the McClellan Butte Trail to  an elevation between  2,800 to 3,400 ft and traverse to the right (west) to  a snowfield. 

ascent route

Follow the snowfield upwards into a gully that ends below rotten rock at the north side of the summit.  Those who have climbed the rock pitch recommend belaying from a tree  and ascending a dihedral crack to the left of the summit (5.6). The rock is  said to be very sharp and chossy with few good placements.  According to Beckey and others, the rock pitch may be avoided by contouring to the west.  Others have bypassed the rock pitch by ascending the North Ridge  staying just left (east) of the crest. 

descent route

Descend the South Ridge and traverse northeast to the McClellan Butte trail.  The snow may be very steep.  Alternatively, rappel the  rock pitch and down-climb the couloir.


Standard alpine ice climbing gear plus a small rock rack.

information for leaders


As of 2017, the Snoqualmie Ranger District considers Mountaineers trips and courses to be "nominal use." Leaders should print and copy this designation letter to show rangers they may see on trail.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
  • Length: 7.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,700 ft
  • 5,162 ft
  • Green Trails Mount Si NRCA No. 206S
  • Green Trails Bandera No. 206
  • USGS Bandera
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  • McClellan Butte/North Basin

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