Ian and I parked at the Snow Lake trailhead at Alpental and took the trail to the east side of Snow Lake. After crossing the big creek that runs into the east side of Snow lake, we crossed a short boardwalk, then went right on a bootpath that started a few feet down the trail on the right (two tall trees and an interesting zig-zag tree are next to the bootpath). We followed the bootpath up through beautiful meadowland with many more ponds than the map shows. We ascended the side of ridge (the one that runs south of Avalanche Mountain) to just below the rock bands and traversed below the rock, finally ascending to a small notch (at about 5,000') north of the gendarmes on the lower part of the ridge. The way we descended would have been a better way to get here.Once on the ridge we followed it up to the summit, sometimes dropping down a bit on the west side of the ridge to avoid rock (if it had been dry the rock may have been fun). The final 20 feet of ascent to the summit was a pretty easy rock scramble.The summit has a register, only 3 parties have signed it since its first entry in June of 2003, maybe because it is so difficult to open. It was a nice rocky summit with nothing to obstruct the views, but we were pretty socked in by the clouds, so I can only imagine what the views were of.On the descent we followed the ridge south to the little notch around 5,000' and then descended from there. Once in the basin we made for the highest lake and then followed the creek to the bootpath and back to Snow Lake. This was a much better route.
Trip type: scramble
Elevation gain: approx. 3,030 feet
Round-trip distance: approx. 8 miles
USGS quad: Snoqualmie Pass
In: Middle Fork Snoqualmie Drainage, Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Reference: Avalanche Mountain via Snow Lake
Car-to-car time: 7 hours 2 minutes