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

I first witnessed the beauty of the Picket Range from Luna Peak earlier this season. I couldn’t wait to experience more ruggedness from another angle. Then to prepare for our West McMillan Spire trip, my partner and I went up to Mount Pugh.

West McMillan Spire from camp
West McMillan Spire from camp

See more trip photos here.

West McMillan Spire at a Glance

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

Dog-Friendly: no pets

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

Goodell Creek Trail

I learned through research that West McMillan Spire was the least technical climb in the Southern Pickets. Since my friends had just canceled their picket traverse, I asked them to join me on the trip. It was also my first time going through the Goodell Creek drainage.

It took us a while to go through lower Goodall Creek Trail because of down trees. Then from the junction, we went straight up the steep terrain! It later flattened in the lower meadow where took a break. Once we were out of the trees, we had incredible views into the eastern half of the Southern Picket Range.

Taking the scenic route
Taking the scenic route

See more trip photos here.

Getting to McMillan Camp

But the other half of the Southern Pickets wasn’t visible because of The Barrier. It was the steep ridgeline that extends down from the base of Mount Degenhardt. The ridge also separated Terror Creek Basin from Crescent Creek Basin.

At one point, we lost the trail. So we scrambled for a while. Later, we found the path in the upper meadow. Then we made our way up to the access notch. So we could make our way into Terror Creek Basin. The closer we were to our campsite, the better the views. The weather was also gorgeous all day.

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

Terror Glacier in a Whiteout

Dark clouds rolled into the horizon shortly after dark. We had a clear night sky until the mist came into the area in the middle of the night. The goal was to get an early start the next morning. So we could climb both Inspiration Peak and West McMillan Spire. 

But when we woke up at 4 AM, clouds had filled the area. So we waited for three hours inside our tents. A few hours later, we decided to walk up to Terror Glacier first. Then hopefully, the weather would be better later in the day. As we went up to the edge of the glacier, low clouds began to shift. But the high clouds persisted.

Since we had burned so much daylight, there probably wasn’t enough time to climb both peaks. We also had a hard time locating the start of the climb on Inspiration Peak. So we knew for sure that getting on both peaks today was out of the question. So we made our way next door to McMillan. We wanted to climb one mountain on this trip, at least.

Terror Glacier
Terror Glacier

See more trip photos here.

West McMillan Peak Climb

Going from the snowfield up to the southwest ridge of West McMillan Spire took some time. It took more effort to climb on steep snow. But we managed to get up to the crest eventually. Then it was just the typical scramble in chose to reach the summit.

There were spotty views on the summit. But we never saw Inspiration Peak even though it’s right next door. But depending on the direction of the wind, Luna Peak, Mount Prophet, and Mount Fury would appear at different times. After spending an hour on top, we started to head down. But getting down the steep snow was a bit nerve-racking. I wish I had brought my ice tools with me.

Be your own prophet
Be your own prophet

See more trip photos here.

Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Outro

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

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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