Here is one of the best Trip Reports I've ever read anywhere. The information is really helpful to anyone considering to tackle McClellan from the Crystal Lake side. The fact that Randy did this all in one day is very impressive since the mileage and elevation gained and loss is considerable for a day's effort.
Randy's great trip report:
Sep 24, 2002 by Randy
Aasgard Pass route to McClellan Peak - The Alpine Lakes
McClellan Peak (8364') is one of the less talked about mountains in the Enchantments and lies directly across the valley from Prusik Peak. You know it isn't visited as often as the other prominent bumps in the area as it has a summit register dating back to 1988. The fact that it has a register at all is almost surprising as none of the other peaks that I've visited in the area seem to have one.
I chose to ascend via Aasgard Pass as it would allow me to wander the Enchantment basin while the larches were going from green to their fall gold. I left the Stuart Lake trailhead at 745 a bit later than I had hoped, but still an acceptable start time for a longish type day trip. Temperatures were in the low 30's at best which made for a pleasantly cool hike all the way up to Colchuck Lake. From Colchuck Lake, I followed the obvious trail around its west side. Once in line with the south end of the lake, the trail ends and I was forced to traverse the immense talus field to directly below Aasgard Pass. Here several people were camped along the lake shore and a ranger noticed I'd neglected to bring along a day pass, oh geeze. Not knowing the consequences of this I claimed it must have fallen off on my trip up. Then I was accused of littering to which I responded, "technically yes, intentionally no.....ya think you can cut me some slack on this?". She proceeded (without comment) to reach into her pack and get me a day pass which I calmly filled out although all I wanted to do was get moving! Anyhow, after the pleasant 10 minute lecture at the south end of Colchuck I hurried my way up to the top of the pass following the immense cairns most of the way. It was all I could do to stay warm here, so faster I went. The main watercourse coming down from the top was nearly frozen solid and a couple folks who had camped down at the lake had Nalgene bottles that were frozen solid.
I made the pass 1030 where I was treated to much needed sunlight and my first views of McClellan. Cairns mark what must be the preferred route through the basin. I followed them for a bit through the upper and middle lakes then headed south at about 7580'. I traversed over to the steep slopes just above Crystal Lake where I ran into a group of three also planning on descending to the lake. I made my way down by staying in line with the south end of the lake negotiating three or four easy cliff bands as I went. I tanked up on water and food at the outlet and sat for a minute going over the last bit of route to my objective. High above me to the west I could see the same three people still trying to get down. They were yelling at each other and knocking down large rocks as they tried to get themselves unstuck from a gnarly section of cliffs. This provided 5 minutes of solid entertainment before I remembered I had a mountain to climb.
From Crystal Lake, I headed east up scree and dirt slopes before hitting easy talus at 7400' and the broad north slopes of McClellan Ridge and the Chessmen. I traversed up to 7650' then had to drop a painful 100' to bypass very icy snow. Once past the ice, I found a short ramp that led me up and put me just above another snow field and 150 yards directly west the Prong. I ascended an easy class 2 gully directly above me to just below the crest of the ridge (directly below the 6th Chessmen). From here the "Chessmen Notch" (as Beckey describes it) was plainly visible to my right. I attained the notch via an easy slab walk and a bit of loose rock. The notch at 20' wide is an amazing place. Two towers, comprised of large rocks seemingly stacked one on top of the other, rise 100' directly overhead. The notch itself acts as a portal to sweeping views of the Teanaway area and likewise the other way to all the Enchantments have to offer.
From the notch I was forced to reluctantly drop 200' to get around several walls that jut perpendicular to the ridge. I dropped down a steep gully and then traversed east at 7800' for about 200 yards before I was able to ascend again. I angled up and to the right until directly below the summit block at about 8200'. I ascended the block on its SW side (class 3) and finally reached the small summit area at 1300. McClellan offers up a great perspective on all of the Enchantments with views of Stuart and the Teanaway area thrown in as a bonus. Also visible was the oddly placed "Fantasia Pond" standing prominent against the gray talus with its turquoise tint. The summit register was a fun read and thanks to the two folks who had left their maps as paper to sign in on. The overwhelming theme aside from everyone being happy to be there was that "Beckey Lies!!". I've heard this before.
After 30 minutes on top, I descended off the summit block via an easy class 2 route to the east. I then retraced my steps back to Crystal Lake where I finally stopped for lunch. From Crystal Lake it's 800' of horrible gain back to the top of Aasgard Pass that seemed to drag on and on, but eventually I made it. A quick descent back to Colchuck and then 4.5 miles of easy trail work got me back to the truck just before 1900, 11 hours after starting out.
For those considering this route it goes 18 miles with 7200' of gain. The preferable route for a day trip is via Ingalls Creek as it offers up about 1000' less elevation gain and, more importantly, virtually none on the way out!