MCDONALD PEAK (9,820'), Saturday, July 11, 2015

Distance: 11-12 miles RT

Class: 2-3 (LOTS of rugged terrain, it's more endurance than sheer technical difficulty.....)

Vertical: 5,500+'

Equipment needed: Ice Axe (as added security)

Description: I've been looking forward to this one for a while - highest in the Missions and one of the most logistically demanding major peaks near Missoula! The low snowpack is looking bad for us on so many levels, but for McDonald Peak, it creates optimal conditions pre-July 15 grizzly closure for getting up the peak with a minimum of technical skills (i.e., without an absolute need for ice axe and crampons). Nevertheless, I'd recommend all partners bring the ice axe for stability on the final snowfields leading to the top.

There are many potential routes up McDonald, but I am currently thinking of the "High Traverse" above the Ashley Lakes from about 7,500' on the ridge which leads to the Sheep's Head (i.e., Peak 9,417'). We would contour along that slope (long, tedious, but not technically difficult), pass by Duncan Lake, and then slog up the upper 2,000 feet of McDonald's south slope, which should have some snow but also a great deal of scree, which may be preferred by those not adept in ice axe skills. I will be reviewing the beta in more detail and consult with those who have been up the peak before; these plans may be modified.

McDonald Peak is an endurance fest, so all comers must be prepared for a 12-hour day and long stretches without easy footing - but the reward is one of Montana's most satisfying summits!

NOTE: Tribal permit needed, Missoulians can obtain one from Bob Ward's and other locations.

Leader: Dan Saxton - apologist497 AT