Disorderly Conduct on the West Ridge of Mount Terror

Sergio and I departed Seattle at about a quarter past 7:00PM on Friday hoping to get an early start to avoid the “Extreme Heat” warning that NOAA was forecasting. Arriving at the ranger station in Marblemount we were surprised to find that 2 parties heading into the Southern Pickets had already signed out… both heading for the West Ridge of Mount Terror. There was another party signing out when we arrived. They were heading for Inspiration Peak so they would also be leaving from the Goodell Creek “Trailhead”.

Arriving at the end of the Goodell Creek road Sergio exited my car to back me into a spot where we could leave room for another car to park aside use but still optimize the sleeping arrangements for the night. While Sergio was backing me into a spot three people gentleman approached. The three representatives of the current occupants of the group camp made it obvious that we were not welcome. Although we questioned there territorialism we decided that leaving the immediate area was prudent and retreated back toward Newhalem to the alternate start for the Goodell Creek approach into the Southern Pickets.

To make a long story short (I'll bore the Judge with the long version) we were the second of 4 known parties that the people at the group camp chased off that evening. Apparently, feeling like their lives were in danger by flip-flop wearing climbers they eventually felt it necessary to call 911. Sergio, myself and two climbers we had just met after they too were exorcized from the group camp were preparing to go to sleep when a convoy of gun packing park rangers arrived. After a half hour of lying face down in the dirt and another half hour sitting on our butts while Ranger Yetter “investigated,” we were issued citations for “Disorderly Conduct (Offensive)”. Apparently we were guilty by location and I am certain that that doesn’t stand up in court.

The following morning we departed camp around 7:30am, so much for our early start. In an hour and a half we arrived at the camp and the end of good trail for us. The four miles of old roadway is in much better shape than when I climbed West McMillan Spire. From the camp a trail continues on a rising traverse then parallels Terror Creek to c.2100 feet where there a couple huge logs that can be used to get across.

After a short break at Terror Creek (last water until c. 5600’) we located a faint path heading up The Barrier. We were able to follow this path to the crest of The Barrier (c.3400’) with minor difficulties. The STEEP ascent probably would have been characterized by major difficulties if not for the path.

Crossing Terror Creek on disorderly debris

On the crest of The Barrier we were largely able to follow a path although it was easily lost. If you lose the path it is best to return to the crest where it will eventually be found. At c.5600 feet things began to open up and we entered “Stump Hollow,” the gentle basin between The Barrier and the Chopping Block. We cut across this to a flat section in the ridge between the Chopping block and The Barrier. The low notch north of the Chopping Block is not the correct location to descend into Crescent Creek Basin. The correct location is about 100 yards north of the low notch at a flat section in the ridge where there is a bivy site that we took full advantage of. It took 6.5 hours to reach camp from the trailhead.

Disorderly camping near the Chopping Block

The following morning we departed camp at about 6:45AM descending snow and talus into Crescent Creek Basin. Once into the basin we began a long traverse on snow, talus and slabs to the base of the gully between Mount Terror and The Rake (aka The Blob). We had heard nothing good about the gully we were about to climb.

Approaching the disorderly gully

The 400 foot gully appeared to be mostly snow filled but the snow was severely undercut so we decided to take to the moat on the left side. About a third of the way up the gully we squeezed through a small tunnel in the moat then went left of an island of rock that splits the gully for about 100 vertical feet. The left side is apparently "more solid," using the term very loosely, and features a class 4 step and a ledge traverse. The final 100 feet of the gully was basically scratching for anything remotely solid. After our investigation of the gully we decide it should be sited for “Disorderly Conditions (Offensive)” but our attempts to call 911 were futile.

Now at the notch between Mount Terror and The Blob we located what appeared to be the most feasible location to gain the ridge proper. An off-width crack looked the most reasonable (visible in the last photo). Sergio gained the 5 foot deep moat with all of the grace of a drunken cowboy falling off of his horse. I followed his lead, yee-haw! I led up the crack that was a little more difficult than it initially appeared (low 5th, layback) once above the crack I turned right up a short gully to a rappel station that I used for a belay anchor (30m from base). On the next short pitch I climbed a dihedral to the left of the belay anchor to where it narrowed then cut right for a few moves to easier terrain and another rappel anchor (Sergio stayed in the dihedral).

Disorderly talus on the west ridge

Above this the going is easy talus until near the top of the false summit which is skirted on the right via a class 3/4 traverse to a notch c.200 Feet below the true summit. The remainder of the climbing is steep, sustained class 3. We used a running belay to reach the summit rocks. A party had just reached the summit of Inspiration as we reached the top of Terror a little over 5 hours after leaving camp.

Climbing toward the disorderly summit

Finally, disorderly conduct on the summit of Mount Terror

McMillan Spires to Degenhart and the disorderly Degenhart Glacier from Mt Terror

Despair, Bacon, Hagen and Blum from Mount Terror (Disorderly Spire left of center)

After spending about 45 minutes on the summit we started down using a running belay to reach the notch where we untied and scrambled down to the rappel anchor above the gully. We made 2 rappels to reach the top of the gully and 3 in the gully with down climbing in between. I was all too happy to reach the base of the gully and even happier to reach camp. It had taken about 9 hours round trip from camp. We enjoyed another afternoon lounging in the sun.

Rappelling back to the disorderly gully

The following morning we departed camp around 7:00. We were expecting the descent to take longer but managed to reach the trailhead in 4 hours. We were at Good Food before noon where we were treated with respect despite or “Disoderly Conduct.” It was definitely offensive!

Gear Note: Bring rock protection from small to 1 inch. Anything larger is just extra weight. A 50m rope is sufficient for the rappels.

Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 3, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 106-107