OverviewThe South Face of Inspiration overhangs imposingly over the Terror Glacier in the Southern Pickets, but offers a surprisingly reasonable line directly up its most prominent feature. A deep and long fissure, called "the gash," splits the upper face and offers solid face and chimney climbing on mostly good rock, giving a moderate way up the steepness.
This climb features steep faces, cracks, lots of scrambling, complex glacier travel, and a long complicated descent; all classic Cascade characteristics.
Getting ThereFollow directions on the main page to Terror Creek Basin and Terror Glacier. The South Face can be accessed from various points on the glacier, so the primary concern should be trying to find the most solid moat crossing. All other things being equal however, try to gain the route at the lowest point on the face.
Route DescriptionFrom the top of the glacier it is likely that some mid-fifth terrain will have to be climbed to get to lower-angle ground. A short amount of 3rd and 4th class after that will bring one to a 30 meter-tall headwall with few weaknesses. Prominent cracks and flakes offer 5.7 climbing up one of the darker and steeper lines in the headwall. After this a few hundred feet of scrambling brings one to the ramp system which distinctly cuts rightward up the face.
Follow the ramp up low-fifth-class terrain for a few hundred more feet to the entrance of the "gash," ignoring smaller systems which head steeply up, straight across, and down across the face. Loose blocks abound in the corner deep in the ramp; where possible stay on the outside edge of the ramp where the rock is more solid.
A left-facing corner/flaring chimney leads steeply up to where one enters the gash and follows it up as it cuts left across the upper face. About 80 meters of climbing through the gash brings one to the base of the exit chimney. The most solid climbing is generally found on the left/West side of the ramp on the outside edge of the gash. The final section of chimney, about 40 meters long, has an obvious chockstone blocking the top, which is reached by delicate and wide stemming past loose blocks.
The West Ridge is gained just past the chockstone and from there ~30 meters of low-fifth class terrain brings one to the summit. Be sure to peer out over the South Face and marvel at the improbable climbing that brings one up such a steep wall.
Essential GearRope at least 50 meters long, light rack to 2-inches, plenty of slings or cord for rappel anchors. Ice axe and crampons for glacier and if planning descent down West Ridge.
DescentThe most straight-forward descent is down the West Ridge route, but descents are possible, and some established rappel stations exist, back down the East Ridge and the South Face.
To descend the West Ridge follow the instructions given on the East Ridge route page. I will point out that there are established rappel stations every 30 meters on the West Ridge and lower in the access gully as of Summer 2007, so that a 60 meter rope will likely allow a descent without leaving gear behind. Also on the descent much downclimbing can easily be done to bypass some of the rappels. The access gully deposits one back on the Terror Glacier a few hundred feet above and about a quarter-mile further west from the base of the South Face.