Photos from this trip can be found here.
Thanks to all the Mount Washington day hikers, the trail had been well beaten. Packed snowshoes but used microspikes for traction and balance on the trail. The weather turned out to be bluebird and warmer than usual, despite the majority of the hike was spent in the shade.
After following the trail to 3600’, I put on snowshoes and proceeded to worked my way up Change Peak’s occasionally steep west face through thick forest and came out at the 4000’ saddle. Snow was in great conditions albeit being on steep terrain, postholed only in a few places among densely populated trees. Service road on the saddle made its way around east of the peak between 4000’ and 4050’, which I followed for a short while before scrambling up onto the southwest ridge at 4100’.
Last 200’ of ridge walk was just as woodsy as I remembered but more snow this time. Some cairns had been placed throughout the woods for guidance, but as long as one stays on the ridge there’s no chance of getting lost before getting to the summit in no time. Summit itself was somewhat clear of trees with openings on both east and west sides. Great views of South Fork Snoqualmie River Valley to the east and good views of Snoqualmie River Valley to the northwest including Mount Si. Mount Rainier to the south could also be seen from the summit. The summit was somewhat breezy but not too bad.
Taller trees to the west kept Mount Washington from view; to see the mountain I would need to work my way down west slopes and really poke my head out. There was another opening past the woods on the north side of the summit just as the elevation began to slowly drop. Here the entire ridgeline from Mailbox Peak to Granite Mountain was in full view, as well as the ridge west of Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley, from Mount Teneriffe all the way to Middle Fork Campground. McClellan Butte wasn’t as daunting viewed from the west as it is from the east or the north.
The wind started to pick up as it got later into the afternoon. On the descent, I followed my route from 2013 by scrambling down the north ridge and more or less stayed on the ridge to 3200’ and crossed over service roads in some spots. From 3200’ I then began to contour northwesterly while dropping the last 400’ before reconnecting with the Mount Washington Trail at 2800’. Then I hiked the rest of the way out to the car.
North ridge harbored many outcrops and not easy to spot due to overgrown and thick forest. In some places, the densely populated trees required bypassing by getting onto the west face for a bit and back on the ridge again. Unless one is super comfortable and confident with route finding, I highly recommend retracing their way back through the southwest ridge and scramble back down to the trail at 3600’ for a much more enjoyable descent.