Mount Terror the Terrorizer / 恐嚇人的驚駭山

Mount Terror, the leading protagonist
Mount Terror, the leading protagonist

See more trip photos here.

Getting to the Picket Range in the NCNP is strenuous and time-consuming. It makes no difference in your route choices. Not climbing peaks doesn’t mean having to miss out on the sheer beauty of the breathtaking, rugged terrain. One can get to the mountains with route finding skills and enjoy abounding views without ever leaving camp.

The Lowdown on Mount Terror

Access: Goodell Creek Cross-Country Zone Access Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 600′-8151′
Gear:
helmet, rope, rock
GSP Track: available

Logistics Overview

August 4-6, 2018

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Saturday, August 4
Approach to Crescent Creek Basin
Night 1 – Chopping Block Camp at 6400′

Day 2 – Sunday, August 5
Mount Terror
Night 2 – Chopping Block Camp at 6400′

Day 3 – Monday, August 6
Exit


Day 1

Approach to Crescent Creek Basin

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Terror Creek Basin junction
Terror Creek Basin junction

See more trip photos here.

The Hike to Terror Creek

I didn’t have enough time to do another picket traverse this summer. So instead, I went after one of my objectives in the Southern Picket Range. I learned that a party of two had gone in the day before while getting my permit in Marblemount. That meant I possibly would have company for the weekend.

The hike to the Terror Creek Trail junction was relaxing and straightforward. Trail conditions were about the same as two years ago. The path on the old roadbed curved its way through down trees and brush. Two cairns had since replaced the rock arrow that once marked the junction.

Raging Terror Creek
Raging Terror Creek

See more trip photos here.

Terror Creek Crossing

Beyond the junction, the path became increasingly hard to follow. I lost the climbers’ trail shortly past the moss-covered boulder field. Then I realized I was 100′ too low after spending some time locating the log crossing. So I scrambled upstream along the creek until I relocated the climbers’ trail before the crossing.

The log jam was precisely at 2100′ as mentioned in various reports. It was important to cross to the other side here to access the climbers’ trail. That way I could reach base camp at a decent hour. However, the raging water plus wet rocks kept me from making a direct crossing. After spending a half hour testing out various places, I went farther upstream.

Following the obvious trail
Following the obvious trail

See more trip photos here.

Steep Approach on South Ridge

Fortunately, a big log I found 500′ upstream gave access to the other side. Then I scrambled downstream to the cairn by the climbers’ trail. Since finding a safe crossing was my main focus, I forgot to pack water before leaving the creek. My carelessness would eventually come back to bite me.

Just as on the approach to Terror Creek Basin, the elevation gain was steady above the creek. But the elevation gain would offset the shorter distance to the Crescent Creek Basin. I took many breaks while hauling up a heavy pack. Soon I ran out of the water and would be without any for the next 3500′. There were lots of wild blueberries along the bone-dry ridge for consumption.

Open views
Open views

See more trip photos here.

Keeping Track on the South Ridge

I briefly lost the climbers’ trail below the ridge crest at 3600′. But even without one, keeping north on the narrow ridge, one would still be possible to navigate. Occasionally, I’d come upon outcrops and bypassed them from the west. From time to time, I’d catch glimpses of nearby mountains despite being in the dense forest. The views helped keep my mind off the steep terrain.

As terrain began to open up at 5400′ above the timberline, the climbers’ trail dwindled. So I started scrambling northwest toward the saddle between the Chopping Block and Point 7149. Hooray! At 5600′ a small stream gave me the first drops of water since leaving Terror Creek. The head of the Chopping Block Basin had the most granite slabs I’d ever seen.

Slabs for days
Slabs for days

See more trip photos here.

Chopping Block Camp

This camp was hands down one of the best I’d ever come across on a climb. It’s the front row seat to view many of the remote high points in the North Cascades. I spent the late afternoon hanging out by the camp soaking in views. The sky had turned hazy since late morning. And when evening rolled around, the smoke had obscured the Goodell Creek drainage entirely.

Dark clouds began to emerge from behind the range as I scoped out the route on Mount Terror. At one point it started to drizzle, and a rainstorm looked to be forming. Thankfully, the drizzle only lasted minutes, and the rainstorm never materialized. Knowing the next day weather would be excellent, I wasn’t too concerned.

Home for the next two nights
Home for the next two nights

See more trip photos here.

Day 2

Mount Terror

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Off to Mount Terror
Off to Mount Terror

See more trip photos here.

West Gully on Mount Terror

The traverse through Crescent Creek Basin was mostly on talus and scree without much snow. But along the way, I encountered several hidden snow and ice gullies. My favorite part was getting through the massive downsloping slabs right before the gully entrance.

In person, the nearly snow-free terrain looked steeper and more daunting. It very much reminded me of the approach to Crooked Thumb Peak. I took the right-hand gully with the refrigerator-size chockstone but quickly realized I was off route. I backtracked to the junction and then spotted two rappel stations in the left chasm. Whew!

Gully entrance
Gully entrance

See more trip photos here.

The Notch Above the Gully

The upper gully was incredibly loose. And consistently I took one step forward and several steps back. I kept a solid footing by burying my boots in the shale rock piles. Just north of the notch, the big snow chunk was still present. So I got on top and got my first dose of the northern Picket Range. Breathtaking!

Afterward, I squeezed through the moat around the 50′-tall wall to the east. Then I got inside the narrow gully between the wall and the west ridge. After stemming my way up to the notch, I took a long overdue break. From there I scoped out ways to attain the west ridge. But the vertical route overhead didn’t look too enticing.

North view from notch
North view from notch

See more trip photos here.

Mount Terror West Ridge Traverse

As a result, I got back down to the moat and looked around on the north side. Then I noticed the class 4 protruding rock mentioned in a report. But without the extra snow reaching higher up on the wall, the climb was now in the low 5th. I held up photos to ensure I was at the correct spot before continuing.

Above the crux, rest of the climb up to the ridge was on class 4 blocky boulders. I initially aimed for the upper rappel anchor but instead got above it on the crest. This approach worked out in my favor as I would later discover on the descent. I climbed up the west ridge and traversed around the south side at 7800′. Then I got into the ledgy gully and had my first look at the summit block.

West ridge
West ridge

See more trip photos here.

Steep Summit Block

I got up to the chockstone between the true and the false summits from the left side of the gully. The rest of the scramble was on the exposed, downsloping slabs. The 4th class moves on the south face were better than expected. I avoided the blocky ridgeline since the boulders weren’t very stable.

The summit at last! A beautiful monolith comprised the summit pinnacle. Loose rocks lead to the top that had sheer drops on all sides. Woh! Views here were indescribable, like on any other high points in the Picket Range. Everywhere I looked was hazy due to the wildfire smoke. But unlike last year, this time I could see all of the nearby peaks.

First sight of true summit below the ledge system
First sight of true summit below the ledge system

See more trip photos here.

Views Abound on Mount Terror

With plenty of daylight left in the day, I enjoyed an extended stay on top. It was easy to identify the eastern half of the southern pickets by their sheer north faces. The other half west of here was in a straight line; I could only make out The Rake before me. Poking out from the back were the Twin Needles.

Mount Terror marked my sixth peak in the Picket Range. It’s also my second peak in the southern pickets after West McMillan Spire. For now, one-off climbs will have to do until I can find more time for another traverse.

Luna Peak
Luna Peak

See more trip photos here.

Back to Crescent Creek Basin

On the descent, I carefully downclimbed back to the chockstone. Then I reversed my route down the west ridge and found the upper rappel anchor. I was happy to get above it on the way up since reaching it from below felt much steeper.

Glad to have brought a 60m rope, as the two rappel anchors were just under one rope length apart. I forgot my newly purchased cordelette in the narrow gully after packing up my gear. But it’s a known fact that I tend to leave something behind on a trip.

McMillan Spires
McMillan Spires

See more trip photos here.

Exiting the West Gully

While in the gully, I noticed old webbing hanging in places where I didn’t expect to see anchors. But it was there! One more rappel from a station with an old piton and a nut got me back into the lower gully. But first I backed up the anchor with new webbing.

Finally, I exited the gully and got back into Crescent Creek Basin after more downclimbing. I reversed the long traverse across and then climbed back up to camp. To keep myself entertained, I spent the rest of the evening taking photos. I walked around and admired the dramatic landscape around me.

Day 3

Exit

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Chopping Block closeup
Chopping Block closeup

See more trip photos here.

The Outro

This morning I had set out to climb the Pinnacle Peak (aka The Chopping Block) before leaving the area. Then I realized I didn’t have my rope with me after I got up to the south ridge. I had used it as a pillow during the night but forgot to pack it before leaving camp. Better luck next time!

On the way out, I stopped by The Barrier’s south ridge. From the crest, I got a closer look at Terror Creek Basin. We were there two years ago! Another rugged yet gorgeous basin indeed! But of course, everything looked steeper and more dramatic when viewed from a distance.

Terror Creek Basin lineup
Terror Creek Basin lineup

See more trip photos here.

The Hike Out

After making my way back down to Terror Creek, I spent another half hour by the creek. I took some photos before finally getting my arse to the other side. Then I slowly scrambled and hiked back out to civilization.

I didn’t see anyone up in the basin during the trip. So perhaps the party of two had gone to someplace even more lovely.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Leave a Reply

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: