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|GuideBook||Red Beckey, Nelson|
|Mailed to WacList||07/24/2006|
I've lived in Washington for over twenty years but I've never been to the Pickets. I finally visited the Southern Pickets with my friend Chris Bretherton this past weekend. We hoped to climb Degenhardt, Inspiration S Face and W McMillian W Ridge over four days. Weather spoiled our plans|
for Inspiration but we had an excellent time over all.
We drove to the Goodell Creek trailhead on Sat picking up our bc permit in Marblemount on the way. We parked at the far north end of the group campground and had some initial confusion finding the start of the trail. The unmarked trailhead leaves from the middle of the campground
just north of the large boulder. We consulted the Kearney description and moved the car to just south of the campground to the start of the abandoned logging road. Three guys were gearing up for Terror N Buttress in super-light fashion. We followed the road pushing through the overgrowth for about 1/4 mile till we hit the well maintained trail from the campground (!).
The road approach is great with nice views of a major sluff on the opposite side of the river that wiped clean most of a hill side. We had a brief lunch at the second stream and got water for the climb. The location to head up the ridge is well marked with a fire ring and large cairn. The trail climbs the next 2400' in consistent fashion except for
some traversing of wooded ridges or laternal moraines at
~3200'. The trail runs next to a large talus slope at ~4000' and after that the next 1000' is straight up with lots of root/tree/bush handholds. We suddenly popped out into the heather with nice views of the southern pickets at ~5000'. The trail from there to the col at 6200' is pretty good. We lost the trail at the second creek crossing. There you should cross the creek then head upstream right along the stream for about 300-400'. The trail comes and goes and there are a few cairns as well until you leave the creek in an upward traverse.
We dropped into Terror Basin, stopped to say hi to two guys planning on Inspiration W Ridge for Sunday, and continued our descent another 100' to set up our tent on a lovely rock slab with stellar vistas. We took about 7 1/4 hours which included about 1/2 hr exploring trying to find the trail by the second creek.
Sunday we headed up for Degenhardt via the Terror Gl. which was well covered (on 16 July) so we didn't bother to rope. There are some open slots that we were able to do end runs around. We scoped the approach to the S Face of Inspiration and then headed towards the Barrier which turns into Degenhardt's south ridge. We went to the top of the glacier and got onto broken rock, heather benches, and (after taking out the rope) unstable boulders on steep dirt to reach the crest of the S ridge. A short steep section on the ridge was
surmounted by a leftward traverse along a ledge system (also roped) which took us to easy scrambling on the west side of the ridge. We did a few more short exposed pitches where the ridge steepened near the summit and crossed some small gendarmes. The roped climbing was mostly 4th class with a few spots of low 5th, but the rock was sufficiently loose in places that we both felt a rope was worthwhile. We didn't find a summit register but we did find a tiny plaque under a rock left by relatives of Degenhardt (his sons perhaps) when they climbed it in 1991. We enjoyed the views and then descended using rap stations we found. We cleaned up old slings at the first station and removed one superfluous biner at another. Our 55m rope sufficed for the rappels.
Monday we awoke to clouds shrouding Degenhardt and Inspiration with wisps heading up from the valley below. We decided to bail climbing Inspiration as the wind and the darkening cloud layer sapped our desire. Plan B was to head off to bag W Ridge on W McMillian instead. This is a delightful climb that has great sudden exposure as you come on to the final ridge of the summit. The clouds boiled over the notch and the ridge with the sun periodically showing through. We experienced a Brocken Spectre which was the second time this year. The previous was backcountry skiing at Crystal in January.
We returned to camp and headed out to the car this time following the trail mostly without incident. We got to the car after about 5 hours. We ran into a couple of guys packing up for 4 days of "exploring". They had just spent 4
days bush-whacking up McMillian Creek drainage in search of adventure and fueled by a desire of getting away from folks. McMillian Creek is a damn good place to go and not to see anyone! We bid them good luck as blueberry/raspberry shortcake was calling for us at Cascadian Farms down the road.
A version of this report with photos is available at cascade climbers
55m single, light rack, ice axe, crampons
Trail is in great shape. Snow patches near the 6200' col.
I wish I wore gaiters on the approach in to keep the dirt/snow out of my boots