Along with Iceflow and Glacier Peak.
Made camp at the pictaresque Cliff Lake. One of the better campsites I have ever had and all to myself. Followed SPer Seano's route straight up the eastface of McDonald and actually found his footprints from 2 weeks before at one point. I opted for the face rather than the ridge as he did, but either would work. It was very warm and I never ended up getting my crampons out. A minor regret to have lugged them so far. I made Mcdonald and soaked in the views, noting on my way to West McDonald footprints coming up the Northwest drainage and thus McDonald peak. I had a gr4eat glissade almost to the Iceflow saddle and then adropped a little west and followed the break in the cliffs to Iceflows west ridge. The impressive north face is matched on the south and the ridge narrows at a few points for some easy, but butt puckering 4th class sections. Fortunately the north ridge is a nice stroll and from there I dropped my pack and ran up Glacier peak before using the glissading down windrifts to the shoulder between Iceflow lake and Lake of the Cloads at around 8200 where I descended a gulley north and returned to camp. Great day!
The next day I returned to the TH swimming in Glacier Lake and tagging peak 7,820 north of the saddle to Cliff lake along the way. I found a better bushwack back tot the maintained trail at heart lake this time by staying high (even found some cairns) instead of going to Island lake again. The stashed river beers in Heart were the perfect antidote to the miles of brush. Holland peak the next day and then Scott in ID on the way home (that proved to be quite an adventure with my hairbrained route.)
The snow probably helped overall, covering the bogs, providing a snow bridge for the stream crossing, and making the SE face a straightforward snow climb. No bears or bear sign, amazingly. Trip report.
Summited approx. 12:30 pm MST via cliff lake route. From everything I've read the approach from the swan valley is far more forgiving as the trail is very developed up to heart lake. Beyond that late season the vegetation was fairly thinned out so the bushwack up to post creek saddle was not wretched, and we did find adequate climbers trails up and over the divide down to cliff lake. Camped at cliff and pushed for the summit the next day. Line of sight up around the east edge of McDonald will eventually take you up to ice floe lake. Stay high in the basin navigating class 3 cliff bands along the north edge of the lake up to the Ashley divide. Before reaching the divide we veered north directly to the now visible summit up talus slope to gain the summit ridge. The way down was simply a matter of retracing our steps. Snow was not an issue this late in the season (it was a long summer) but bring ice axe and crampons because that summer was unusually forgiving. Saw the goat that owned the mountain up there... an outstanding summit in an outstanding place.
Incredible area!!! I drove up the narrow road on the 4th of July and met up with Greg Jagielski at the Ashley Lakes TH where we camped. We got a somewhat early start and did the brushy/ bear grass traverse to Duncan Lake. That part kind of sucked, but from there it was a spectacular hike. The final 1000'+ we needed crampons and ice axe. Really awesome views in all directions, quite an awesome area. From just off the summit we were able to glissade down that steep 1000'+ which was a blast. Out and back in about 8.5 hours. Second Montana Ultra.
17 hours of grueling unpleasant territory. It was more than just a hike. I lost and broke approximately 100-150 dollars worth of hiking gear. It rained just enough to soak the bush on the way down. I was soaked from head to toe for the last 2000 ft heading down. We hiked the last three miles in the dark. Was it worth it? Yes. It was unforgettable.
11 hours round-trip (which includes an hour on the summit) with Martin Shetter and Dave Creeden. The brush traverse and burned fallen logs near the start make this the most unpleasant route of 2015. We saw large grizzly tracks high on the mountain. While descending the steep snow slope below the summit I slipped on an icy patch and had to self-arrest.
Great trip in from Mission Valley side below the Sheep's Head. Hit the summit on day one and returned to Duncan Lake for camp. We took an alternate route out trying to use Ashley Creek, but I wouldn't advise this route in July - brush and cliffs made day 2 a long one. AWESOME TRIP!
Awesome mountain! The bushwack from Heart Lake to Cliff Lake is NOT easy. Upper Post Creek drainage is absolutely one of the most beautiful places I've ever camped.
Rare perfect window of weather right after the closure ended and it seemed that we were the only ones taking advantage of it! After approaching it for several years in a row without ever attempting to climb it, the suspense had built up. And we were not let down! What an awesome mountain! Hiked in from the east and camped at Cliff Lake. Mountain goats silhouetted on top of the south buttress from our vantage point at the bottom of the face. On the way back my dog was bluff charged by a bear on the east side of Post Creek saddle in the fog and rain that closed the door on the season.
Climbed up & over the Sheep's Head, across the glacier to the summit and back. On trail from about 0600 to 0100 the next day.
Lots of wet slab avalanches. Route choice and timing were critical.
Saw fresh sow and cub Griz tracks down in the forest.
Wow! This mountain has absolutely everything going for it—except trails! An unplanned two-day epic (13 & 16 hours respectively) with Bob Bolton and Duane Gilliland will, I sincerely hope, be the most memorable of its type I ever do. (If it's not, flowers can be sent to my funeral.)
McDonald Peak isn't "just another mountain"—get off on a poor route, and even with a GPS it becomes a monster. If someone injures a leg (which happened), if you're forced to bivy on an island in the snow just below timberline (also happened), if you've got nothing in the way of food to sustain through a grueling second day but munchies (a bit hard on the energy level), it's also a monster, and not a forgiving one, either.
Route-finding the second day was extremely difficult; Bob and Duane were amazing, talking each other through the possibilities. Those guys really know what it's all about!
Grizzly poop was encountered. Ripped-apart logs were encountered. No grizzlies were encountered.
Day two: 6 AM to arrival at vehicle at 10 PM, with one of the benefits of a northern-tier state being it was light all the way.
This is one outing won't leave my mind. I don't want it to.
saintgrizzly, Duane, and I drove my trusty 4Runner to the end of the "road" and camped, then started early, intending to round-trip this one in one day. To make a long story short, this isn't wise. We experienced route difficulties and other time-killers, and then if that wasn't enough I managed to strain or slightly tear a quad muscle on my left leg while still pretty high on the mountain, forcing us to bivouac about here. In the morning I tested my mobility and learned that I could walk with the knee straight or nearly so, and that I could descend by reaching down with the injured leg, keeping it straight on the landing. This of course slowed us considerably, not to mention more route-finding problems and brush bashing above the shores of the upper Ashley Lake. Suffice it to say that it was a 16-hour epic to get back to the car.
This is not an approach I would recommend, however I do know how I'd do it from that starting point if I were to repeat. Of course I won't do so because of my twin mottos - "So many mountains, so little time", and "Life is too short for repeats".
No grizzlies were encountered.
Climbed August 1963
My first larger mountain, climbed with Larry Corrigan, Bob Lambeth, Don Munn Jr. and Don Munn Sr.
Our route was dictated more by transportation than by choice. I would not recommend this route, but it is doable. We took two and a half days.
We bushwhacked from Post Creek up the north-south trending drainage passing through Sections 18 and 19 and originating at the small glacier on the west side of the peak. Then we ascended the glacier, west face, and west ridge to the summit
We encountered a black bear and a sow grizzly with two cubs on the west face just below the summit.