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Trip Report    

McMillan Spire/West Ridge

Strenuous. Beautiful. Loose.

  • Fri, Jul 19, 2019 — Sun, Jul 21, 2019
  • McMillan Spire/West Ridge
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
    • Hornets nest appears to have relocated. We did not encounter any on the way in or out. We also talked with three other groups and none of them had any run ins either. 
    • Emmas trip report was incredibly helpful! We followed her beta and used their tracks. 
    • Snow finger into camp is partially melted out. We descended into camp on rock and it was incredibly loose. We stuck close together, but had some climbers try to come behind us and they pulled several widow maker sized rocks down. We were far enough to the side that they did not hit us, but we still ran as fast as we could off of the rock when they started falling. We had asked them not to climb until we were out of the fall zone and they did not oblige.
    • Snow finger between McMillan and Inspiration has a few holes, but is still in good shape. 
    • I think this climb is best suited for basic students that are experienced scramblers, have a high fitness level and some experience under their belt already. This is an intense basic route. 

    We did our trip as a three day and it was totally worth staying an extra day. We reached Marblemount wilderness center at around 8am and secured our permits. Started climbing at 9:40am. We had pushed our climb back one day due to weather, and decided to do the approach with 30% of .03 inches of rain in the forecast. We got completely soaked, but we all agreed this was better than climbing a never-ending slope in 90 degree weather. The beginning of the trail has several down trees and is brushy, but not bad and definitely improves! I would say it was better than Sloan or Eldorado in terms of "climbers trails". The two creek crossings are very easy. Once you hit the ridge it just goes up and up and up.. The root pulls are a series of three steps. They felt harder on the way up than on the way back down. After the loose rock scrambling, tree roots are a breeze! There were lots on cairns on this trail-stream crossings, and upper traverse section that leads to the pass. The one mistake we made was not filtering enough water for the ridge. Make sure you filter at the last stream crossing before heading up. We reached the pass at 430pm, the rock was super loose. The basin itself is beautiful, plenty of water and some nice bivy sites. The next morning we left at 445am just as the sun was coming up. There are numerous cairns through out this section, but they can be hard to spot. Having Emmas GPS was incredibly helpful and saved us a lot of time. One thing I will say is take the high track on the way there and the way back. The low track only leads to unwanted elevation gain. We arrived at the snow finger around 7am. Snow was still moderately firm, which was very nice for all the front pointing that lay ahead of us. Top portion is loose and kind of slabby. It gets better as you go up. It is still loose and slabby coming back down. We arrived back at camp at 1:30pm. Lounged for the rest of the day. Day 3 we left at 445am again (this is what happens when your climbing partners insist they need to get up at 3am in order to be ready at 5am.. and then are ready by 4:30am and have to wait for you to finish getting ready). The snow was soft, but hard enough to climb. We stayed off of the rock until the very top when we had to cross a 10ft section to gain the notch. Hike out was very enjoyable as it was still cool. We reached the car at 1030am and high tailed it to Mondos for breakfast.