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Ski Tour

North Couloir, McClellan Butte

January 23, 2008


This morning my friend Day Frostenson and I headed up to McClellan's Butte to ski the north couloir. This prominent couloir can be seen by everyone driving by on I-90, so it is a popular and accessible ski tour.

We left my house at 5am and arrived at the trailhead off of Exit 38, a little before 6am. Two days earlier Day and our friends Andy and Loren skied the Slot Couloir on Mt Snoqualmie.

It was dark and cold as we put on our boots and skins. We skinned up the road for about 1/2 mile then took a left hand turn onto an old overgrown logging road. Snowshoers had put in a trail for us to follow.

We were following the directions from the Martin Volken book but we deviated when we saw a large opening through some trees. We explored and found a large terminus of what we believed to be the bottom of the North Couloir. We followed this up and left to another large fan of avalanche debris. Looking up we could see the couloir narrow so we assumed this was the correct couloir and took off our skis and boot packed it up the steep slope.

Since Day had to work at noon, we had a definite turn around time and that came before we were at the top. We stopped on the right side of the slope near two large trees to put our skis on. The tree Day was standing in front of still had snow 6 feet up the trunk from where an earlier avalanche had pummeled it. The snow was varied but pretty soft in most places making for excellent turns back down to the car, which took us about 15 minutes.

Looking back at some of my earlier pictures of McClellan Butte, I now realized that by turning from the road early, we ended up in the north-west couloir instead of the longer, steeper, North Couloir.

Still, a fun day of exploration and skiing! Thanks for great morning ski, Day!