West McMillan Spire of Picket Range in Terror Basin / 西麥克米蘭尖塔

  • Reading time:5 mins read

West McMillan Spire of McMillan Spires is the 9th tallest peak in the Picket Range after Phantom Peak. The unique feature above Terror Creek Basin is also famous among climbers. Moreover, it demands the least technicality while offering a stunning vista.

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: 24 miles
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

West Mcmillan Spire

I first experienced Picket Range’s beauty earlier this season. So I couldn’t wait to see what else was in store. Then to prepare for this trip, my partner and I did a conditioner together last week.

The top of Sourdough Mountain was where I had initially noticed McMillan Spires. It was also on that trip I saw Picket Range for the first time. Back then, the place seemed out of touch for this novice scrambler.

See more trip photos here.

Goodell Creek Trail

Through research, I learned that West McMillan Spire was the least challenging in the Southern Pickets. My two friends had canceled their picket traverse, and so I invited them along. It’s my first time hiking this trail.

It took some time to go through the lower trail because of the down trees. Later we went straight up the steep terrain by the junction. It later flattened up in the meadow. Once above the trees, we had incredible views of the eastern half of the range.

Taking the scenic route
Taking the scenic route

See more trip photos here.

Terror Creek 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 following day, 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 take a closer look at the East McMillan and Little Mac Spires. From the ridge, we also saw 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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.