West McMillan Spire in Terror Basin / 驚駭盆地裏的西麥克米蘭尖塔

West McMillan Spire from camp
West McMillan Spire from camp

See more trip photos here.

My friend and I went up to Mount Pugh days earlier as a conditioner for this trip.

The Lowdown on West McMillan Spire

Access: Goodell Creek Cross-Country Zone Access Trailhead 
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 600′-8000′
Gear: 
helmet, rope, rock
GSP Track: available

Logistics Overview

July 30 – August 1, 2016

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Saturday, July 30
Approach to Terror Creek Basin
Night 1 – McMillan Camp at 5800′

Day 2 – Sunday, July 31
West McMillan Spire
Night 2 – McMillan Camp at 5800′

Day 3 – Monday, August 1
Exit


Day 1

Approach to Terror Creek Basin

Overview > Day 1 Day 2 > Day 3

Hiking to Terror Creek Trail Junction

I first witnessed the sheer beauty of the Picket Range from Luna Peak earlier this season. So I couldn’t wait to see more of the rugged terrain from a different perspective. After doing some research, I realized that West McMillan Spire offered the least technical climbing in the Southern Pickets. So after my two friends’ Northern Picket Traverse plan fell through, they joined me on this trip. It was my first time in the Goodell Creek drainage.

Once we left the Goodall Creek Trail, the climb immediately went straight up! The terrain finally flattened in the first meadow. There we got the breathtaking views into the eastern half of the Southern Picket Range. The western half wasn’t visible because of The Barrier being in the way. The Barrier was the ridgeline that extended down from the base of Mount Degenhardt.

Taking the scenic route
Taking the scenic route

See more trip photos here.

En Route to McMillan Camp

At one point, we lost the climbers’ trail but then reconnected with it in the upper meadows. Then we made our way up to the access notch to get into the upper Terror Creek Basin. The closer we approached our campsite, the better the views. The weather was gorgeous on the first day.

But then clouds started to roll into the area shortly after dark.

East of the sun, west of the moon
East of the sun, west of the moon

See more trip photos here.

Day 2

West McMillan Spire

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

West McMillan Spire Climb

We had planned on getting a head start the next morning to climb both Inspiration Peak and West McMillan Spire. But when we got up at 4 AM, we could see nothing but clouds all around us. So after waiting three hours, we headed up to Terror Glacier and hoped for the weather to turn better. As we got closer to the glacier, low clouds began to disperse. But the high clouds were too stubborn to leave the area.

Since we had already lost much time getting here, there wasn’t enough time to locate the start of the climbing. But then we also realized that we didn’t have enough time to climb both peaks today. Soon, we made our way next door to McMillan. We wanted to get at least one of them on this trip.

Terror Glacier
Terror Glacier

See more trip photos here.

Getting from the snowfield up to the southwest ridge of West McMillan Spire took much effort on steep snow. But once we got up on the crest, it was just your typical choss scramble to reach the summit.

There were some views at the top, but we never saw Inspiration Peak even being right next door. Depending on the direction of the wind, Luna Peak, Mount Prophet, Mount Fury, and Elephant Butte appeared at different times. After spending an hour on top, we started to head down. But getting down the steep snow section was nerve-racking for me. I hoped to have brought my ice tools on this trip to make down climbing smoother.

Be your own prophet
Be your own prophet

See more trip photos here.

Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Outro

Next morning, the weather changed back to bluebird. So the two of us went up to the ridge separating Terror Creek Basin and Stettatle Basin. We wanted to get a closer look at both East McMillan and Little Mac Spires. From the ridge, we also got an excellent view of Azure Lake at the head of the Stettatle Basin. There just wasn’t enough time to soak in all this goodness. I will for sure return at some point.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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