OverviewMcCartney Peak, located just south of the Clallam-Jefferson county line, is a seldom visited, fairly unknown peak. This is not a difficult, exciting climb, but is rewarding with amazing views and very few people.
Just NW of the peak is beautiful Lake Lillian and several other smaller ponds that make excellent camping sites. Climbing this peak is a multi-day off trail adventure. Back in the mid 1900's there was a trail to Lake Lillian that then crossed the Lost River divide and traversed to Cameron Pass. Little remains of the old trail. There are bits and pieces where it was blasted out of solid stone, but the majority is either totally gone or confused with numerous game trails
The Lillian River Valley, which must be crossed near its head in order to reach Lake Lillian, sees relatively few humans each year. It has a significant bear population, so bring a bear barrel as there are no trees near the lake large enough to hang food.
Both standard routes up the mountain ascend the south ridge of the peak, which is gentle except for a little class 3 scrambling near the summit. The steeper Northwest face has no listed routes, and no recorded ascents, but looks like a more exciting climb.
Getting ThereFrom Seattle, take the ferry to Bremerton and drive Highway 303 North to the the Hood Canal Bridge. From the bridge continue west and then drive north on US 101 to Port Angeles. In Port Angeles follow the signs to Hurricane Ridge. Stop at the Ranger Station just outside of town to pay for a backcountry permit and pick up a bear canister. Just before reaching the lodge at Hurricane Ridge, turn left on to Obstruction Point Road. Follow this narrow dirt road for 8.4 miles to the Grand Pass trail head.
ApproachFrom Obstruction Point, follow the Grand Pass trail for about 2 miles until just before it starts to descend into the Grand Creek Valley. At this point an unmarked way trail follows the ridge crest south.
This trail stays near the ridge crest and is fairly easy to follow. After Pk 6580 the ridge becomes a rocky spine. Resist the urge to descend below the ridge crest too early. Once the ridge is reached, the trail threads through the first part of it and descends left down the third gully.
The trail becomes hard to see after this point and is often covered in snow. Head for the low point in the ridge just north of Moose Peak. Once this point is reached, follow the ridge to the summit of Moose Peak.
From the summit of Moose Peak, continue to follow the ridge south towards Low Pass, which is the next low point in the ridge. At Low Pass, McCartney Peak is visible to the southwest.
From Low Pass, follow a faint way trail traversing down the west side of the ridge. The trail ends in a boulder field. Cross this boulder field and find the easiest way to cross the short, rocky ridge on the other side. Once across the ridge, descend the steep grassy, or possibly snowy, slope to the bottom of the valley where there are a few small ponds.
Here you have two choices:
1. Ascend the valley to the Lillian Glacier and on to the summit.
2. Traverse over to Lake Lillian and climb from the west side.
The first choice is shorter, but the second is much more scenic.
If you take the first choice, the route is very straight forward. Follow the Lillian River up the valley and ascend the Lillian Glacier and follow the ridge to the summit.
If you decide to go to Lake Lillian, the route is much more difficult, but more rewarding. From the small ponds, follow the Lillian river up stream to the first possible ford. From this point, you will traverse around the head of a ridge. Do not go up it. If you do, you will end in cliffs above the meadows below the lake. After traversing for a while, a very flat meadow will be reached. Cross this meadow towards a waterfall on the southwest side. climb the gentler slope on to the left of the waterfall, which flows out of a lake just below Lake Lillian. From this lake, ascend a short slope to Lake Lillian.
To summit from the lake, climb to the pass south of the lake and follow the remnants of an old trail to a spur ridge of McCartney Peak. Ascend this ridge to the summit.
Red Tape-This is in the Olympic National Park, so park entrance fees must be paid.
-Lake Lillian is in a quota area and only a certain number of people are allowed to camp at a time, which is seldom a problem because very few people camp there.
- The Obstruction Point Road only opens after all the snow has melted of it. This is usually mid July and sometimes into August.
CampingThere is a car campground at Heart O' The Hills near the park entrance. Waterhole campground, located 4 miles down the Obstruction Point road, is another car camping option.
External LinksOlympic National Park
ReferenceFor Further information on this mountain refer to the Olympic Mountain Climbing Guide Fourth Edition by Olympic Mountain Rescue. This book includes way points and perhaps a better route description.
Note: Most of the pictures on this page were taken by my father. He takes better pictures than I do.