The climb of West McMillan Spire is modest...it's the approach that makes this climb different than some other 8,000 feet peaks. The glacier crossing goes unroped and the rock is class 3 plus, but take an ice axe and crampons, we used them. The unmarked, unmaintained trail starts at 600 feet, so you have a ways to go in distance and elevation. We took 3 days. It's been done in 12 hours by a turbo legged robot described on the cc website. This is a great climb for several reasons: It's in the Pickets, you are not going to have crowds in here, you'll find out if you want more of the Picket peaks, the perspective of other famous peaks so close is memorable.
I am relisting this mountain that someone deleted, so I have a trip report that is somewhat redundant but to get this great mountain back up so others can reattach their trip reports was my goal. This is the West Ridge route only. Beckey describes the North Face done in 1966 rated 5.6, Southeast Face in 1970 rated 5.7, and a south face done in 1951 rated class 4 and 5. go figure.
Starting at I-5, Burlinton, WA. drive about 60 miles east on Highway #20, the North Cascade Highway, to Newhalem. On the East side of Goodell Creek, turn north on what is now a short paved road toward a maintenance shed and small gravel pit. Follow this now gravel road on the right hand uphill branch. You are heading toward a "group camp" in about a mile. The rangers at Marblemount asked up to park in the spur before you get to the campground where others have for years taken the unmarked trail.
Where you see my white van in the picture is before the campground where a second unmarked trail eventually leads you to the same abandoned road for a 4.5-mile easy walk. Trail begins at 600 feet gaining 1,000 feet to where the real up starts. At 4.5 miles you will find a flat spot, cairn, and the rock arrow and not too far back you crossed a creek. The climbers path is steep but not hard to find until finally reaching tree line and if it's good weather your views are rewarding. We found ourselves fumbling around a creek, trying to find the trail. If you bear left?, northerly you traverse for a couple of miles toward a notch in the ridge at 6,350 feet.
You now descend maybe 400 steep feet to Terror Basin. This was a fantastic bivy site with flat spots and plenty of running water. Here you see the McMillan Spires along with other famous Picket Peaks. The route over to West McMillan is not hard to find. Travel toward West McMillan on rock benches, you come to a glacial lake, cross at the outlet side and find your way up to the glacier. Pick a line to the base of the West Ridge. Snow gets steep as you move up to the ridge and the snow narrows to a few feet. This is where you get onto the rock and again, pick a line up the West Ridge as you choose. Easy to dislodge rocks here. I thought it was easy climbing, but airy. No doubts about the summit location... you should be there!
You need to stop at Marblemount Ranger Station to get an overnight permit because you are in the North Cascade National Park. They may be able to help you find that parking spot too. I do not think you need the Trail Parking Pass because it is not a maintained trail. Ask about it. Phone is 360 854-7245. The nice thing about this Ranger Station is they have climbing rangers and logbooks from other climbing parties if climbers stop on their way out to report climbing conditions. It can be very helpful if it's your first time in.
There is a big National Park campground at Newhalem if you are driving a long way and need a campground before the trip begins.
Read on Cc of a sub 9 hour ascent of West Ridge... http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1029574