This is arguably the most spectacular line on the mountain as it alone traverses the spine of the peak from east to west. The difficulties are not terribly sustained and most difficult climbing is well protected and on solid rock (there are exceptions though!). Generally, lower pitches (used to access the ridge proper, pitches 1-4 below) are loose and runout but generally easier.
The route is approached from the SW following a section of Terror Glacier above a narrow finger of rock protruding SW from the ridge between Inspiration and West McMillan Spire. You’re aiming for a notch in the ridge between Inspiration and the nearest of the towers immediately east of Inspiration.
Pitch numbers below are roughly how we broke up the route (influenced by pro opportunities, drag, and most importantly photo ops) – different options exist.
few 5.7 moves but mostly low-5th class, 500-600 feet. Pick your way up the mostly low angle slabs just left of the gully separating Inspiration and the nearest tower. Easy but little or no pro – pitch things out or simulclimb. About 150 feet below the notch try to find a belay anchor as things get tougher.
5.8+, 200 feet. Perhaps there’s an easier way, but we ended up on steep and very loose terrain (better pro though) well left of the gully. This will put you on the low angle start of the east ridge proper. Scramble to just where the angle picks up and belay directly below the obvious lieback flake.
5.8, 140 feet. Now the fun begins: good rock and good climbing. Climb the lieback flake and up into easier terrain to a large ledge at the base of a stellar hand crack.
5.9, 110 feet. Climb the (crux) excellent hand crack (multiple #2 Camalots, some #3). At the top, we went right via some rope tension and some face features and picked up another crack that put us on top of an obvious protruding block. Belay here. Note that apparently there are 2 cracks next to each other here. What I said pertains to the left one
; these guys
are on the right one (didn't even see that one!).
5.6, 180 feet. Descend slightly on the north face of the mountain and climb up to the ridge and the east base of the false summit block.
5.7, 70 feet. Traverse around the south side of the false summit and belay on the opposite side.
low 5th class, 180 feet. The money pitch! Comb your hair, wipe the crust off your lips and the snot off your nostrils: photo op time! Traverse the spectacular ridge toward the main summit horn. Descend into a notch at the end of the traverse.
low 5th class, 200+ feet. Climb the ridge and the north face to the top of the summit horn.
Fun is over. Time to face the shitty descent. Traverse summit ridge 50 feet west to the first fixed rap anchor. Approx. 3-4 double rope raps (not all of them max out the length – depends on choice of fixed anchors, some worse than others) bring you to lower angle (but exposed!) slabs and no further rap anchors visible (there’s a gully on the right/north side at this point).
Belay each other down and find one of our rap anchors (block + slings). Do three more double rope raps (down the rock face immediately left of the snow gully). The last (of these 3) double rope rap should deposit you on a snow tongue protruding out of Terror Glacier into the steep gully (you’ve been shadowing) just right of the ridge as you’re looking down (get your snow gear on before dropping down). Careful pulling ropes – lotta loose stuff!
1X blue Alien
2X green and yellow Aliens
2X #0.5 to #1 Camalots
3X #2 Camalots
2X #3 Camalots
One optional larger piece (we had #4 C4 & #5 Friend with us - redundant)
Light set of nuts
Double ropes (on at least 2 raps we were happy to have at least 60 meter cords)
Your choice of glacier gear
Lots of rap webbing and rap rings