Mount Terror is an aptly named summit. It is the highest peak of the Southern Pickets group of the North Cascades. The south side of the mountain rises 1000 feet from Crescent Creek cirque. The impressive north side rises dramatically 2500 feet from McMillan Cirque. Needless to say, this is an excellent summit, that gives the backcountry adventurer a steady diet the real Cascade deal.
Because of the mountains remoteness and difficult approach (see below), it doesn't get climbed often. However, there are three major routes:
- The West Ridge - This is the most common route but the least aesthetic. After a long approach the climber must ascend a loose gully (best with snow) followed by a difficult 4th class pitch, and on to 3rd class to the summit. Grade II
- The East Ridge - Probably the least popular route. Steep and exposed rock on the short east ridge. Grade II, 5.6
- The North Buttress - This is the classic route. The route ascends the massive north buttress from McMillan Cirque. Climbing is continuously steep, exposed, thrilling, but mostly moderate. Grade IV, 5.7
Being a summit in the remote Picket Range, this approach is tough. Strong parties can make the approach in one long day. It's best to reserve 2 days for the approach.
The typical starts at the Goodell Creek trailheal which is found by turning north onto an unpaved road across highway 20 from Newhalem campground. Follow signs to the Goodell Creek campground and find a small turnout on the right just before the campground. Start hiking from the unmarked trailhead at the sobering elevation of 600 feet above sea level. Follow the trail for about 4.5 miles where you continue past the small cairn that marks the turnoff to Terror Basin. The trail becomes fainter and begins winding northward alongside Terror Creek. Do your best to stay on the trail and a similar elevation before finding a good spot to cross Terror Creek. There is a huge fallen log that you can use that marks the best point. Once across Terror Creek begin climbing steeply up the Barrier. At the top of the Barrier, continue ascending north along the top of the Barrier until the trees thin out and you can see Stump Hollow - the large triangular sloping basin that is due east of "The Stump" (aka "The Chopping Block"). Head northwest and cross Stump Hollow and arrive in Crescent Creek Basin. Cross the basin and find good campsites underneath Mount Terror with water on the glacier slabs.
You will need to get a permit for Crescent Creek Basin from the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center in Marblemount (360-873-4500). Don't worry, you won't be fighting for this permit like you would for one in Boston Basin.
When To Climb
The best time to climb in the North Cascades and the Pickets range is summer, especially the month of August. By late August, most of the years temporal snow is gone. July is also good, but it is typically buggier. September is good as well but you have to be careful of snow dustings and wary of shorter daylight.
See "Red Tape" for camping.
You can use this website to see a snapshot of the territory that you will be venturing into: http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/nocacam/nocacam.cfm
Here's a fun tribute video to Mount Terror.
- TR for North Buttress of Mount Terror
This link describes the climb of Mount Terror's North Buttress on our (Aidan, Michael, and me) 2004 Picket Range Traverse.
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