Photo: Looking down on Snow Lakes from the top of McClellan Peak.

McClellan Peak Climb
words and photos by Roger Gervin

Taking advantage of the low-snow year of 2015 and fantastic weather window, BarbE, rocman, and I were able to get this trip in before the lottery permit season started on June 15. We spent two nights at a nice campsite at the west end of upper Snow Lake (5,420 feet) and carried day packs to the McClellan summit on the second day of our three-day trip.

For the actual climb, we hiked from our camp at Snow Lake up the trail leading into the Lower Enchantments. From Lake Viviane (6,785 feet) we followed the cairned trail for a couple hundred yards before leaving it and continuing along the east side of Leprechaun Lake. We then started an uphill slog on a mixture of rock and snow as we worked our way over to a set of snow tracks on the west side of “The Prong” that led us to a 100-foot section of Class 2/3 rock which got us up near the ridge and our first good look at the McClellan summit block. A short stroll led to the ridge crest where we crossed over onto the south side. We then gave up a little elevation to get around a large rock outcropping before working our way up the west side (a couple of Class 4 moves) of the summit block leading to the top (8,364 feet).

A more prudent route up the summit block would have been to be a bit more patient and continue around to the south side of the summit block before heading up on Class 2-3 terrain. This is the way we descended and it was easier.

From the summit block there were outstanding summit views that included lots of Teanaway Peaks and the entire Enchantments basin.

We had ideal conditions for this climb, we carried crampons (or MicroSpikes), but they weren’t necessary as the snow was perfect for kicking steps. I would consider an ice axe mandatory. There were a few bugs but nothing that required bug juice.

We didn’t see any snow until we reached Lake Viviane. There were dry campsites at Lake Viviane and Leprechaun Lake with Viviane virtually melted out.

Distance and Elevation. Summit day from the west end of Snow Lake to the top of McClellan and back to camp was 6.5 miles and gained 3,200 vertical feet. The entire 3-day trip was about 24 miles long and gained about 8,000 vertical feet.

Skill. The rout to the top of McClellan Peak would be considered an advanced hike (difficulty level 4) but from a climbing stand point it is an easy climb (difficulty level 1).

For a good visual tour of this route, see Roger Gervin’s slideshow of the climb.

Permits and Camping. If you do this route as a two- or three-day effort before May 15th, you will not need a permit to camp at Snow Lakes or in the Enchantments. After May 15th, you’ll need a Enchantment Area Wilderness Permit to camp — these are obtained through a lottery online or by getting one in Leavenworth the morning of your trip. To park at the Snow Creek Trailhead also requires a Northwest Forest Pass.

This post first appeared in forum and is published here with Roger’s permission.

More information about climbing McClellan from

Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Do no damage and pick up trash left by others.

Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.

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