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[TR] Inspiration Peak - South Face 09/02/2018


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Trip: Inspiration Peak - South Face

Trip Date: 09/02/2018

Trip Report:


Before last weekend I hadn't been to Terror Basin in almost 10 years.  Back then we had spent a week in the Southern Pickets, only seeing one other party in Terror Basin. How times have changed!  This past weekend there were three other parties for a total of a dozen people in Terror Basin.  Thankfully all the others were headed for West McMillan Spire so we had the decidedly unpopular South Face of Inspiration all to ourselves.  However, like Alan Kearney, I really think it should be more popular.  It is quite a route!


But it is also not for the faint of heart.  Steep, intimidating, with a bit of scruffy rock and so-so pro - it would have been a challenge back when I was in good rock climbing shape.  And I am most certainly not in good rock shape these days!  Luckily I had @therunningdog to gun my sorry ass up it.  And gun he did, leading all the gash pitches.  But there was plenty to keep my mind humming below- a chaotic glacier with some delicate bridges, slabby rock right off the glacier (should have put on rock shoes earlier), and an increasingly exposed 4th/low 5th class ramp that terminated in the intimidatingly steep "Great Gash".  And thenn once you are on the summit, the involved descent awaits.  4-5 raps down the West Ridge, some ridiculously exposed scrambling, and then more steep rappels down the south face.  It was about 12 hours camp to camp. 

But what a place.  Even more beautiful than I remembered, perhaps due to the changing weather and swirling mists?  The best pictures are never during the best weather, perhaps the same is true of our memories?

I'll be back, but I won't wait another 10 years this time.


Looking down into Terror Basin from the "trail" in:


Looking out to Triumph, Despair, and the Chopping Block (L-R):



Despair and the Chopping Block:



Thornton Peak and Triumph at sunrise:


The Southern Pickets!!


Morning light on the South Face of Inspiration:


Ptarmigan and grown chick:


I should draw the line on this but basically you climb up the buttress to the left of the face to the prominent ramp that is followed right a long ways to the start of the "Great Gash", which shoots steeply up and left to the upper West Ridge.  A pitch on the ridge finishes the climb.  The Descent follows the left skyline to the col then down the steep face/buttress to the glacier:



The glacier approach proved challenging, but we found a way that will go into the fall this year:


No super dad friendly.  Scrambling a lot of 4th and low 5th to the belayed pitches up the gash.  I should have taken more photos but I was pretty focused on not screwing up! 


@therunningdog in his element!


Did I mention that the South Face of Inspiration is steep?



@therunningdog coming up the final bit to the summit:





It is an exposed descent as well.  Rapping the West ridge:


On the first set of raps, before you drop off the South Face:


Whew.  Down on the ice!


Or should I say gneiss?








Despair in the mists:








This felt good after the punishing descent:


Gear Notes:
60m half rope, medium rack to 2", ice axe, crampons, helmet

Approach Notes:
Terror Basin trail from Goodell Creek. 6 hours to camp. From camp follow the climber's path toward Inspiration and West Mac, picking the best line up the glacier to the toe of the buttress just west of the South Face. We roped up here for a bit until we gained the prominent ramp where we packed the roped and scrambled. It seemed about 5.6-5.7 for one ptich to gain the ramp, with low fifth below that. The "Great Gash" is about 3, 30m pitches, to ~5.8.  I think we did about 12 rappels down the west ridge and west edge of south face right back to our boots. Stations are established for a single 60m rope. Bring tat since the route isn't climbed regularly.

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Nice shots, J! I really like the one with the lake that shows the reflection of the peak! Where do I purchase?!

I do have some good memories of this route. The raps off the S Face are certainly better than that nasty W Gully. (Yuk)

The great gash (the feature, not the climber!):



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It was certainly exciting @chucK!  I went first on that one and I just barely reached a horn with some bleached and shredded tat.  I didn't have the tat (D'oh!), so @therunningdog slung it down the rope to me.  It didn't touch anything on the way down, perhaps the only benefit of a rap so steep!

Oh, I can get you a print to anything you want @Trent!  Or anyone else for that matter....

Love the shot of @Steph_Abegg in the Great Gash!

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I almost died in the west ridge gully once due to ice fall from melting blocks on the granite slab above.  Haven't been back since, but this TR gives me, uh, Inspiration!

Do you have a high-res version of the sunrise picture of Triumph?  I was over in that basin on 9/2, would like to zoom in and see if I can spot us.  Can return the favor with a suitably high-res shot back at Inspiration on same morning....once i get my film scanned.

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This TR takes me back. I remember well, standing at that spot in your first pic, after the "hike" in, looking down that 40deg scree slope into the basin proper, and deciding rightly to just backtrack a bit and spend the evening at a nice little camp site just down from the col instead of heading on down that slope to camp. I was just up for one night to have a look around and man, the view from up there is one I'm determined to enjoy again.

Jason, thanks.



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