Placeholder Routes & Places

Trip Report    

The Pickets - Terror West Ridge

3 Day private climb of Mount Terror (6/20/21-6/22/21).

  • Wed, Jun 23, 2021
  • The Pickets
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles

Ian and I climbed Mound Terror West Ridge this past weekend (Sat-Mon). This was our fifth (fourth successful) Pickets adventure but first in the Crescent Creek Basin area. We knew that nothing in the Pickets comes easy given their remoteness and being some of the most rugged wilderness of PNW.
The biggest concern I had for this climb were the creek crossings especially knowing that the temps would go up starting Sunday.
Day 1 - Approach
We started on Sat 8:30 am from Goodell Creek TH after catching up in the parking lot with two other climbers who were heading for Terror Basin, the only people we saw for the next three days. The Goodell Creek trail was more overgrown than we remembered (last time we were there was back in 2018 at the end of August) but it’s still early in the season and didn’t get much traffic yet (except the bears dumping their poop everywhere). Handling the first two crossing was more or less straight forward (the known main crossings used later in the season were completely covered by raging waters but had no issues finding some variations going downstream for the first one and upstream for the second major one). We were prepared for some of the worst bushwhacking on the climbers trail beyond the Terror Basin cutoff (based on useful trip reports we read) but it wasn’t bad on our way in…on our way out though was harder to follow and lost it in some places but we blamed it on our tiredness and the heat. We made a relatively good time to the Terror Creek crossing but the first half of the well-placed log (well documented by John Porter and Fletcher – Thank you) was submerged under raging water. Not quite what we were looking for…we kept looking around for other options and creative ways to safely cross it and after about 1 hour we made it on the other side (burnt time because of me not being fully sold on Ian’s solution but had no other choice and went for it after he carried my pack). Had no issues finding the ridiculously steep climbers path on the other side and followed it all way up to the ridge (1600 ft gain / a bit on the brutal side of things…think of twice as steep as Mailbox). It’s crucial to stick with it and if you lose it you have to get back on it if you really want to pop on the right spot on the ridge and make it the same day at the Chopping Block camp. Climbers path on the ridge was on and off but as long as you stay on the crest and avoid cliffs you are good to go. We had to deal with some bushwhacking in some short sections but nothing bad. Continuous snow started around 4800 ft. Crampons were handy in some sections on our way up to the 6400 saddle on the Chopping Block ridge. We scrambled the last 1000 ft and setup the camp in snow and complete whiteout on the south side of the saddle, being protected from the wind. We did a weather check before we went to bed and the models re-assured us that we will wake up to blue skies.
10.5-hour day (It turned out to be a longer than expected due to time burnt at the Terror Creek crossing, slow going uphill in hot and humid conditions, and then dealing with whiteout up high).
Day 2 – Climb day
The Crescent Creek Basin and the Terror Gully were completely covered in snow. After some steep snow traversing and soloing the Gully we made it to the notch in about 2.5 hours. Prime conditions, no need for the pickets we brought with us and no moats built up yet. I got to lead the 30m rock pitch – I started in boots and it felt like mid fifth (the first moves). When I got in a safe spot, I switched to approach shoes. We brought a small rack up to 1 and used the cams (0.4, 0.5, 0.75 and a micro) because I had them and used one constriction as natural pro. If I was starting in approach shoes, I don’t think I would had placed more than 2 pieces. It’s low class 5. I didn’t see the rappel anchor initially and I did setup my own using a boulder. While I was bringing Ian up I noticed the rappel slings I missed being actually about 30 ft away from but in line with me. From that point we didn’t think that the rope was necessary – we gained and followed the ridge on class 2-3 terrain, easy but loose in places. We ended up popping up above the notch, to the false summit (obviously not the first ones based on the rap sling we found) and decided to downclimb instead of rappelling the 100 ft 4th class gully to get back on track and in a good position to push for the final summit block. The final scramble to the summit was fun class 3 / 4 but exposed and steep enough we did 3 rappels back down from existing slings. The last moves to the true summit are very exposed but easy, on solid rock we had no issues doing without a rope. We didn’t take the 4 gully we downclimb on our way back – we found the class 4 ledges around the gendarme, popped back up on the ridge and got back on easy class 2-3 terrain until we found the slings I missed while I was leading for a fourth rappel which took us back to the notch. From there we did a 5th rappel in the gully and then we had to face in downclimb about 2/3 of it. We were hoping to be able to plunge step portions of it but the few inches of mush on top of hardpack didn’t make it work.
After 11 hours we made it back to the camp exhausted and witnessed a beautiful sunset and gorgeous views while enjoying our delicious dinner on some dry rocks on the Chopping Block ridge. Couldn’t ask for a better wrap of a successful day.
Day 3 – Hike out
Started around 9:30 am and made great time scrambling back down the ridge and back to Terror Creek (~3 hours / cut almost half of the time it took us to go up the first day). I was terrified of how the creek would like but it was fine reversing the moves and logs we used the first day (again, in my case without pack, Ian carrying it for me on a sketchy log we used for some transitions moves). At that point we were convinced that without any other shenanigans we could make it out under 7 hours. Well, at that point we didn’t know what was waiting ahead of us. The climbers path back to Terror basin cutoff was harder to follow, ended up a few times in some ugly bushwhacking, the second creek was way higher than on our way in but we still managed to cross it without major problems and then we were welcomed by the first creek raging like crazy and we couldn’t recognize anymore. It was insanely high and spent 2 hours going downstream, upstream, and back downstream to find a solution for crossing. I was almost accepting the idea of camping one more night (but where???) and cross it in the morning but Ian didn’t want to hear about it. We started thinking about moving boulders, logs, leveraging the rope, build mechanical systems with the gear we had…ended up finding a solution about 400 ft downstream where we used some logs to connect two rocks and then to help us get on one of the two logs connecting the middle of the creek with other side. Then we au cheval it and finally made it on the other side, physically and mentally drained. The rest f the hike out was uneventful and made it back at TH after a 9-hour day.
Lucky we got the right conditions for another great successful climb in the Pickets and thankful we made it safely crossing some of those raging creeks (the crux of the whole trip).
Trip documented in Ian’s video: