McDonald Peak is located about 2 miles south of Pettit lake on the divide running north/south from the west end of the lake. It can be seen from ID 75, and although higher than the peaks on each side, is not especially prominent. This peak in not one of the more well known sawtooth peaks and is only climbed maybe a dozen times a year. There are two main routes:
1. Class 2 east ridge/slope (10-12 miles RT from the hwy with approx 3200 ft of gain)
- travel across the flats from where you parked moving towards to the east ridge that snakes towards the summit. Stick to this ridge as much as possible. It is heavily tree covered. Once you get to about 9300 ft on the ridge you will break through the trees onto an open slope. From here you have a short but steep class 2 slope to the summit. We did this trip in winter, so had to hike from the hwy. In summer the distance will be shorter, as you can drive closer to the base.
2. Class 3 North Ridge
From Boise make your way to ID 21 and travel to Stanley Idaho. Turn right (south) on ID 75 and travel south for about 19 miles until you reach the Petit Lake Turn off. From Sun Valley head north on ID 75 towards stanley, over Galena summit and into the Stanley basin to the Petit Lake Turn off.
For the east ridge/slope you can park at a turn off on the west side of ID 75 about 1.75 miles south of the Petit Lake road.
For the north ridge turn at the Petit lake turn off and travel to the upper end of Petit Lake to the trailhead. (cannot be accessed in winter)
If you park on the road, there are no permits required but if you park at a trailhead you will need a Sawtooth National forest pass
, or you can risk getting a ticket for the fee program. Golden eagle passes are also accepted. As mentioned in the getting there section the road to Petit lake is closed during winter.
When To Climb
The peak can be climbed at any time of the year, but if you want to avoid snow stick to the summer season of July thru September. Although I have only climbed the peak in winter, I would say that you will need significantly more time to summit through the often large volumes of snow. Also you will need to be very wary of avalanche danger.
CampingCamping in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Mountain ConditionsCurrent Conditions
Page on the National Forest Web Site
Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Advisory
Sawtooth National Forest
2647 Kimberly Rd. E.
Twin Falls, ID. 83301