West McMillan Spire Speed Climb

West McMillan Spire is a peak in the fabled Picket Range of North Cascades National Park. Specifically, it is one of the jagged summits along the Southern Pickets “fence.” The approach to the climb entails 4.5 miles along a sometimes brushy path followed by a steep climber’s path gaining nearly 4,000 feet in a remarkably short distance. Once in the alpine, there is a long traverse which was almost entirely on snow this year due to the unprecedented large snowpack.  The climb itself is primarily a snow climb with a steep pitch near the Inspiration-West McMillan col followed by a class three rock scramble. Having thoroughly enjoyed the climb of West McMillan Spire in 2007, I figured it was time to return. With route knowledge and generally good conditions I was able to better the 2007 time by just over 3 hours to 8:14 roundtrip. Many more photos here.

Location (Elevation): Time Elapsed / Real Time
Goodell Creek Trailhead (600 ft) : 0 / 05:45
Climbers Path Turnoff (1,600 ft) : 45:28 / 06:30
Heather Bench [top of hill climb] (5,200 ft) : 1:50:30 / 07:35
Arrive West McMillan Summit (8,000 ft) : 4:20:19 / 10:05
Depart West McMillan Summit (8,000 ft) : 4:41:01 / 10:26
Heather Bench [top of hill climb] (5,200 ft) : 6:46:08 / 12:31
Climbers Path Turnoff (1,600 ft) : 7:40:40 / 13:26
Goodell Creek Trailhead (600 ft) : 8:14:12 / 14:00

The climbers path from Goodell Creek to the heather benches at 5,200 ft is a masterpiece of elevation gain gaining nearly 4,000 ft in a just a couple miles. One major difference from the prior trip report were the snow conditions, which were firm and even icy in spots. This generally allowed for fast travel on the traverse from the heather benches to the Terror Glacier. However, the short descent from the 6,300+ ft notch and the final steeper snow slope up to the West Ridge required some attention. Maybe it was the rain the previous day or simply a factor of travelling on a chilly morning. On the descent the snow conditions were already getting slightly softer. Many more photos here.

Many more photos here.

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