Southern Pickets, East Twin Needle. McMillan Cirque was revisited in early July, and a very marked change was noted in the glaciers over the past six years; photos show higher ice walls on the bulge of the hanging glaciers, and two glaciers that were easily ascended in 1962 were virtually impassable with jumbled ice blocks and wall to wall crevasses. On this trip we climbed the Crescent Creek Needles (Twin Needles) from the Mustard Glacier via a ledge that lies at the gentle angle of the west dip of the Pickets. The ledge is mixed rock slabs and steep snow. The West Needle is an easy walk. The Needle Notch was gained by dropping south down the West Needle and traversing into it on ledges. The pitch out of the notch required several pitons and an aid nut. From there a scramble up less steep rock gained the blade summit ridge. On the summit we found no evidence of a prior ascent, and a later check in Seattle with Phil Sharpe, who with Pete Schoening had erroneously been credited with an earlier first ascent of the East Needle, confirmed ours as the actual first ascent. Both Needles have vertical east face walls with occasional overhangs, as does the east side of Himmelgeister Horn. Although the weather closed in preventing further climbs, this still remains a fantastic place to visit even when its rock ribs are rising into swirling gray clouds. As an approach route, the twenty-hour hike in along Sourdough Ridge is recommended for its alpine meadow travel, although the traverse into the Cirque under the “bowling alley” of the McMillan Glacier is now more exciting than ever. The icefall made several passes at us and our brave but foolish photographer got a picture of ice bouncing over our heads in spite of our shouts to get back under. Fortunately he got away with only one clop on the shoulder. Our party consisted of Peter Renz, Larry Clark, Joe and Joan Firey.
Joan Firey, The Mountaineers