Mount Duckabush is a beautiful peak in the southeast area of Olympic National Park. Along with Mount Steel it guards the head of the Skokomish and Duckabush River valley's. The main fork of Upper O'neil Creek drains from its western flanks into the Enchanted Valley below to the west. It is located about 18 miles into the heart of the Olympic Mountains between the Duckabush, North Fork of the Skokomish and Quinault River systems. It's gently sloping western ridge gives way to a jagged ridge of steep summits, of which "west peak" is the highest. Becuase of it's rural location it is rarely climbed. The easiest route is a short drop and ascent from Marmot Lake 21.3 miles from the Duckabush River trailhead. The rock is frail, and caution should be taken, as always, when climbing in the Olympics.
It has dominating views of O'neil Peak to the southwest, Bumbershoot Peak to the south and east, and Mt Steel to the east, as well as the lovely LaCrosse Basin to the north. Mt Anderson's noble head, along with West Peak, stand out above the basin to the north.
Getting There and Route info
From near O'neil Pass, head south/southeest toward a ridge overlooking the Lake Ben Basin (east of O'neil Peak). This ridge accesses the peaks of Mount Duckabush and is easier and safer to ascend than the glacier on the north face. Ascend the fairly easy ridge to the east untii you reach the tree line around 5,9000 feet or so. There will be a series of jagged false summit rock outcroppings to the east from this point on. Some can be traversed over, but some need to be traversed around on the south side,when possible. The rock in this section is particularly loose and rotten, so be careful when traversing. Avoid traversing on the north side of some of these pinnacles. The snow/glacier on the north face can be quite fragile in later summer and should be avoided in warmer weather.
Once this series of pinnacles have been traversed then the airy and exposed final section heads directly across and up to the true summit. This turns into a high class 3/4 climb straight up to the West Peak, or true summit of Mount Duckabush. There are some sound rock holds, but be wary of some looser rock at all times.
Once the true summit is reached there are still two lesser summits to the east/northeast if wanted. The Middle Peak and East Peak are slightly less elevation. Amazingly the closest neighbor of Duckabush, Mount Steel, cannot be seen from the true summit, but rather from East Peak. It is not recommended to traverse directly to the east for these summits, as the descent to Middle Peak is quite exposed and steep. But I'm sure it is possible if wanted.
Olympic National Park has a 10 dollar entrance fee as well as 5 dollars per night. Follow the rules of the park for minimal impact on the environment. Parking is free at trailheads.
When To Climb
The nearest camping areas are at the Home Sweet Home Campground, Marmot Lake, Hart Lake or Nine Stream. Olympic National Park charges 2 dollars a night for overnight camping. However, other off-trail areas exist in the small tarns around the Hart Lake and LaCrosse Basin areas, giving exceptional views of Mt Duckabush from their calm waters.
The Olympic National Park website and Ranger Stations provide up to date info on trail and mountain conditions.