Avalanche Mountain is in the background. Photo by Gimpilator
Fun when dry, slippery and hazardous when wet
The unofficially named Avalanche Mountain located near Snow Lake and Snoqualmie Pass is not a very popular mountain, despite being so close to Seattle. Though the summit has stellar views of sorrounding mountains such as Chair Peak, Bryant Peak, Snoqualmie Mountain and Snow Lake, the peak is often overlooked by its larger neighbors Snoqualmie Mountain, Chair Peak and others. There is no trail or established in order to reach this summit and the peak does require both bushwhacking and YDS 2-3 scrambling. This mountain is not recommended as a rainy day mountain or an icy mountain. I went to the hospital from falling on wet slippery heather on this mountain.
In order to get up Avalanche Peak you must take the Snow Lake Trail from the Alpental Ski Area. Take the Snow Lake Trail all the way to Snow Lake. Take the trail to a side trail on the east side of the lake. Take this trail up to a decent campground located right on a tarn. Continue up the bootpath up until it ends. From here bushwack up to the scree field at the foot of the scree field. Got to the right section of the scree field. Once past the scree field ascend up the steep western slope. Continue climbing up the steep heather up to the top of the south ridge of Avalanche Mountain. Once of the ridge area, carefully pick your way up this mountain staying mountain on the western side of the mountain. Traverse past many of the rocks on the ridge until you reach the final summit rocks. On the final summit rock you want to be on the eastern side. This final section is at worst low Class 3, though I might have been a little more nervous here from climbing it in very wet conditions. Overall Class 2 with one or two Class 3 moves.
If you hit the peak on a clear day there are many beautiful mountains to see in the region. Snow Lake in a georgous site as well as Chair Peak, Wright Mountain and Snoqualmie Mountain. It is recommended that you climb this mountain on a dry day when the snow is completely melted (August). Watch out for slippery heather and wet slippery rocks. In winter use heavy caution here. Avalanche Mountain is named that for a reason.
VIA THE SNOW LAKE TRAILHEAD: Take I-90 to the Alpental Ski Area exit located right in Snouqualmie. Head north all the way to a very large parking area. You will pass through a number of smaller Chalets on your way to the Alpental Parking.
Northwest Forest Pass mandatory for Snow Lake Trailhead
There is a great campsite located in the tarn lakes between Avalanche Mountain and Snow Lake. This campground is ideal if you are looking to really exploring the entire Snow Lake area. As for the summit of Avalanche Mountain there is no clear place to camp anywhere on the actual mountain. Remember that this is the Alpine Lake Wilderness so make sure you have a permit pass.
External Links The best site for trail conditions and trip report on the Cascade Mountain scrambles hikes and climbs.
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