Climbing
Snow/glacier/ice route, Non
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade I
Elevation Gain
9,800.00 ft (2,987.04 m)
Distance
31.00 mi (49.89 km)
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Mount Carrie is an extremely remote peak in the heart of Olympic National Park, and the highest peak in the Bailey Range, which runs north-south through the center of the peninsula. There's no easy way to get to this peak, but once you're out here, you'll have unbelievable views of Mount Olympus and the rest of this rugged area. Mount Carrie is rarely climbed, thanks to how far it is away from any trailheads, but it's absolutely worth the travel. You can do Carrie by itself, as it's described in this guide, or as part of a larger Bailey Range Traverse - an epic off-trail traverse that's a well-known objective for Pacific Northwest mountaineers.

To do this trip, you'll need to be a highly competent backcountry traveler, as you'll be leaving the normally traveled parts of the national park, and far away from any help. But this ruggedness is what makes this trip unique!

 

Notes

  • Seasonality: Depending on the season, you'll probably need to wait until mid-July to try this route, because any earlier and the traverse across "Catwalk" between Cat Peak and Mount Carrie may be too snowy to easily travel. From mid-July till mid-September, this route should be in good shape!
  • Gear
    • Depending on the month you go, you may need an ice axe and crampons - in July, you'll probably need them, later and you may not (though it's always hard to say).
    • Helmets are a good idea - the Olympics can be pretty chossy.
    • You'll also need all the layers, gear, and 10 Essentials that you would normally bring on a long trip like this.
    • Camping gear? See the "Number of Days" section below.
    • If you're camping, you'll also need a bear canister, as per park rules.
  • Number of Days: Mount Carrie is doable in a single day, but it would be a huge 31 mile trip with 9,800' of gain. Most will want to do this in 3 or 4 days, which will involve camping somewhere along the High Divide Loop or at the scenic "Boston Charlie's Camp" (about 14 miles into the trip). However, this is highly conditional on the next section: permitting.
  • Permitting: This is what makes this trip complicated. The trip goes through the High Divide Loop area, which is quite popular, and camping permits will be difficult to get. However, camping beyond the High Divide Loop, where camping permits might be easier to get (for instance, at Boston Charlie's) requires a lot of gain and travel, so you'll need to figure out what you're capable of doing. Once you've decided you want to do this trip, try to get your reservations as early as possible!

 

The Trip

Your adventure begins at the National Park's Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. Hopefully, you've already gotten your camping permits, otherwise, it can be tricky to pull this trip off! Next, drive past Crescent Lake to Sol Duc Falls, where you'll park and head in.

There are two ways up to Carrie, either up via Bogachiel Peak or via Bridge Creek. Bridge Creek is shorter but less scenic, so this guide will describe coming in and out via Bogachiel!

Either way, you'll start by heading east, crossing by the scenic Sol Duc Falls just under a mile, then immediately beginning the long climb up to the ridge. The trail climbs 3,500 feet over the next 7 miles, all the way up to Bogachiel Peak, following Canyon Creek, passing by Deer Lake, and then gaining the ridge 5.3 miles after the trailhead. From the ridge, you'll begin getting huge views of Mount Olympus, which won't stop for the next 25 miles!

Continue climbing and contouring up to Bogachiel, then hit the high ridge proper. This section is unbelievably scenic, with view after view and lake after lake, all the way until you get to High Divide. From here, you'll leave the heavily trodden High Divide/7 Lakes Basin area and head into some tree-cover, following signs toward Cat Peak.

The thin trail follows a long ridgeline beneath Cat Peak to the infamous "Catwalk". From the west side of the Catwalk, you can consider tagging Cat Peak, but this guide won't describe that side-trip.

The Catwalk is infamous because it's a pretty heady, with some high class 2, low class 3 scrambling over exposure. As soon as you've fought through the bushes, you'll finally be at Boston Charlie Camp, which is situated by a pond where you can refill water, though it's somewhat brackish.

From Boston Charlie Camp, you'll begin the steep climbing in earnest, gaining 2,000 feet in less than a mile, following the southwest ridge of Mount Carrie. The semi-cairned bootpack switchbacks up the ridgeline until around 6,500 feet when it begins contouring and climbing around the top of the big south-facing basin. This section features some loose rock, so make sure you've got your helmet on!

The true summit is at the upper far right side of the basin. From the eastern side of the basin, you'll pop up to the summit ridge, and top out at the summit, clearly marked by a dented USGS marker that looks like someone hammered it.

The view from up here is unbeatable, with the entire Olympic Peninsula in view and huge glaciers just below you (to the north and east). You can also see Vancouver Island and the Cascades on a clear day, and as always, the enormous Mount Olympus looms on the southern skyline.

Once you've enjoyed the summit, turn around and descend the long way back to the car.

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Remote. Solitude. Mountain views.

Cons

Long approach. Rugged trail. Exposed in areas.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

1,900.00 ft (579.12 m)

Highest point

7,000.00 ft (2,133.60 m)

Features

Glacier
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildlife
Wildflowers

Access

Hike-in

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

No

Primary aspect

South facing

Drinking water

Unfrozen water

Location

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