terror basin - azure lake couloirs & west mcmillan spireDate:
I left around noon on the 4th from the upper Goodell c.g. and stumbled over bear scat brush and creek crossings up to the lower reaches of terror basin. The next morning I moved my bivy up to alpine zone, then set out to investigate some couloirs that descend into the mystical lake Azure basin from the upper rim of Terror basin, I had spotted these on google earth.
After some scouting, I dropped into the prominent large couloir finding some runnels and sun cups up high transitioning to nice corn lower down, skiing all the way to the still frozen lake Azure, a 2600' descent. I climbed back up, returned to camp for some tea, then climbed and skied the west ridge of West McMillan Spire. The snow ended a hundred feet or so from the summit, so I left my skis there and scrambled up colorful rocks in golden late day sun to the fabulous summit. The ski down to camp was excellent.
The next morning I dropped into a steep deeply in cut 2200' couloir down to lake Azure. There was some objective hazard for this route, and I had a moment of despair when a large crash rumbled above echoing throughout the couloir where I was negotiating a trick runnel sidewall section, the debris however did not enter the couloir... The upper portion of the route was technical skiing with a deep old runnel and icy snow to deal with. The lower portion and apron was ripper.
I climbed back up the bigger couloir on the left to reach the rim of Terror Basin, where I continued up to peak 7200' and made effortless turns on perfect corn down its southwest shoulder back to camp.
The next morning I headed back to civilization, and was at Upper Goodell c.g. around noon.
I used to do a lot of backpacking excursions into the wilderness, I've forgotten how rewarding the experience can be, especially alone. I enjoyed the beautiful songs of the birds, the swaying white noise of waterfalls and wind. The sunsets, stars and moon.
The steeper 2200' couloir
turns on peak 7200'