OverviewOk, it's time to stop the madness. Morning Star Peak is beginning to aquire an undeserved reputation amongst Snohomish County climbers as a wicked brush bash. Thankfully, there is a much easier approach to the mountain than the "East Route", which for some unknown reason has become the standard route to the summit. If you are not bothered by 50' of class 4 climbing, approaching Morning Star Peak via the Headlee Pass Trail will simplify your life greatly.
Note: The Cascade Alpine Guide refers to this route as "not the simplest way to the summit", an assessment that my climbing partner and I disagree with.
Getting ThereApproach via the Sunrise Mine Road and Headlee Pass Trail, as per the East Route, except stay on the Headlee Pass Trail until at the switchbacks immediately below the pass.
Route DescriptionTurn left off of the Headlee Pass Trail at the base of the switchbacks below Headlee Pass. This point is unmistakable as there will be about 30 closely spaced switchbacks heading up a steep rocky slope.
Begin an east traverse on rocky slopes towards a point about 0.25 miles northwest of Morning Star's summit. From here, ascend straight up towards Morning Star's summit on steep rocky slopes (Class 3). A number of variations are possible here - one can stay in a gully, or exit onto brushy slopes to climber's right. At approximately 5600' (just below summit block), turn left, and traverse NW towards a notch in the ridge extending north from the summit. Unfortunately, I have no photo of this notch from the west, but upon arriving, you should have a view similar to the photo below.
Momentarily cross onto the east side of the ridge, and climb up and around to a slightly higher point on the ridge. Cross back over to the west side of the ridge. Here is where the class 4 climbing starts. (Note: It would be possible to climb up directly without crossing the notch in the ridge, but it would involve steep, loose, unprotected rock.)
In the photo below, the "x" marks the notch you will pass through (as viewed from the east).
The route consists of about 50' of relatively solid rock, and the climbing is fairly easy. As I recall, I used only two slings for protection on the route. It does appear in the photo that there are some cracks that would be suitable for chocks if one desired - at the time, I did not feel that they were necessary. Our total time to the top, once leaving the trail, was about one hour, which demonstrates how simple and quick this route can be.
There are plenty of small trees on the descent for an easy rappel back to the ridge notch.