The South Face of Inspiration is a really fun climb.
Justin, Ross, and I climbed Inspiration Peak by the South Face. We left Seattle too late Friday afternoon and were stuck in torpid traffic until Marysville. Justin stopped there and some lady in a truck was nice enough to back into the front of his car while we were getting gas. Beware Friday the 13th in Marysville.
All the traffic delayed our arrival at the Goodell Creek Trailhead until 7 pm or so. We had almost enough light to hike to the nice camp sites at the end of the trail without head torches.
We embarked on the trail up the ridge just before first light, around 5 am. The climber's path is good, but the distance is longer than the Terror Creek approach.
Justin and I had stupidly forgotten crampons, but we managed our way up Terror Glacier somehow. It's a bit broken and a more impressive glacier than I thought it would be, but very easy with crampons for sure.
We got on the face at the lowest point where it meets the glacier. We scrambled a couple hundred feet of 4th class with a couple sections of easy 5th.
From a ledge where the highest moat meets the south face, Ross led a slightly awkward chimney pitch to the major ramp that leads up the south face. We simul-climbed a couple hundred feet of 4th class with Justin and I both leading a rope and Ross trailing. Then I led up another couple hundred feet of 4th and easy 5th until I made a belay a very short pitch below the beginning of the great gash.
Ross led to a good belay at the beginning of the gash. I led the first pitch, which featured spectacular face moves and stemming on a very exposed ledge below the overhanging bulge of the gash. There was a perfect belay with enough room for all three of us just before reaching the end of 30m of rope.
Justin led the next pitch, which featured more face moves with thin pro in a spot or two. Once again there was a perfect belay around 100 ft.
This left Ross with the pretty chimney pitch that exits to the West Ridge. I snapped pictures of him leading up the chimney with the overhanging summit block in view. The chimney pitch was exceptionally fun for all of us, with sleeping pads on our backs. It was nice how the climb allowed each of us to lead one of the really interesting pitches of the gash.
From where the chimney pitch meets the West Ridge it was one easy move and some 4th class to the summit. It was 6 pm. The views were superb.
We were uneasy about the apparent rain down McMillan Creek, as we had been uneasy about thunder and rain to our south while on the face. We made four rappels down the West Ridge, then a bit of downclimbing to a sketchy rappel down the South Face. Five more rappels, including one in which shenanigans ensued after someone forgot to untie the end of the rope before pulling on it, and it was dark; we were a couple hundred feet above the glacier.
Ross and I agreed that the glacier was no place to go in the dark, despite the fact that we had no water. We settled for the night. I made proud use of my JagermeisteRasta bivy kit. There was a shower or two, but we were grateful for the generally dry night without wind.
Sunday morning we rappelled twice more. Justin and I had mad fun working our way down an icy, crevassed section through a couple bridges on the glacier without 'poons. Ross talked a lot less trash than I would have, had the situation been reversed. Oh well, his bad. And now for a quote from Yvon Chouinard's Climbing Ice:
"There are many situations when you could be caught, whether by method or madness, without crampons when they could be useful."
Here's to madness!
The hike to the car was long and my feet really hurt. Now I remember why I never wear those boots. As of five weeks later the blister on my toe is still not fully healed. What a great memento from a spectacular trip.