Trip: Forbidden - North Ridge
A friend and I climbed the North ridge of Forbidden last weekend.
The first difficulty came at the ranger station. I asked for a permit for the Forbidden Zone.
Ranger: where are you heading?
Me: We're doing the north ridge of Forbidden.
Ranger: Forbidden is in the Boston Basin zone, which is full.
Me: no, no, we're doing the north ridge, we're going to bivy on the north ridge, won't set foot in boston basin until the hike out.
Ranger: Doesn't matter. The whole mountain is in Boston Basin.
Ranger: Doesn't matter what anyone says. Even some rangers don't know this. It's all Boston Basin.
Me: Why does the map show the North ridge in the Forbidden Zone? Ranger: Some artist drew it that way. Me: I don't understand. What do people in Boston Basin and on the west ridge have to do with the North Ridge? What's the Forbidden zone for then?
Ranger: (something I didn't really follow about glacial recession, long waits on the West ridge route, yada yada)
Me: uh weird, ok, can we get a permit for the Boston Glacier then?
Ranger: I'm giving you a permit for Forbidden. I trust you to Do the Right Thing.
Me: o . . . k . . . thanks
Ranger hands me a NCNP card: be our eyes and ears out there.
Me: smile and nod (WTF was that all about?)
I had tweaked my knee earlier in the week, so I was worried it could prevent me from even getting past Sharkfin but I was pleasantly surprised not to be in any pain.
Near Boston Basin we forked off to the right following rock and streams (camp spots here that I didn't know about?) up to Quien Sabe and filled up at the last running water. We went straight towards what I think is Sharkfin col but found a moat just slightly too great to get across. So we headed up and right through an awful gully to another rap anchor. Maybe this is the alternate? It's the one with a chockstone and as of now, a couple nuts and some yellow cord.
After one 30m rap we were still above a tall schrund with no easy way down. In the snow I found a small rock with a cord around it that apparently served as somebody's second rap anchor. I'm sure it was buried under more snow when it was used, but still, wow, that's some trust. I placed a nut in an exposed rock and a second rap got us down to the Boston.
Traversing over to the north ridge was pretty simple, very few crevasses to deal with. I enjoyed the ice worms and jade colored drips on the rocks.
Our path to the bivy involved a moat that will become very difficult quite soon, but there are probably other ways to get up there.
Searching for and doing the rap to the Boston had eaten up a lot of time so it was time for dinner by the time we got to the bivy. We spent the evening melting snow in painfully small batches and melting our brains with the incredible views.
Next morning we slowly got going a little after 6am after warming up some. We improvised our approach, from short pitches to running belays and scrambling. We had to cross one snowfield early on but we were able to bypass the large one higher up.
I think it was just past the higher snowfield that we seemed to have lost the easiest route. Some steep climbing through sketchy bullshit got us back on the ridge crest. As we neared the summit, clouds began to build on the south side, spilling over the east and west ridges and straight down to the glaciers below. We rushed through the scramble of the last two hundred feet to the summit with visibility on the south side disappearing.
I've wanted to do this climb for years. The position and scenery did not disappoint. The rock itself . . . it's not great. I was hoping for more sustained low 5th but it was almost all <5th scrambling. There also didn't seem to be many cracks in the few steep spots, so I rarely placed pro. But I was still very happy to be cruising up a beautiful ridge in such an amazing place.
We had planned to do the east ledges descent. I did that descent last year and found it to be undeserving of its scary reputation. It's steep for sure, but pretty solid. Scouring around the summit and the last little bit of the east ridge, I could not find the first rap. It's possible I missed it, but I'm pretty sure it's not there. So we headed down the west ridge. This took a goddamn long time. When we reached the gully some parties were rapping it. But the snow was in good condition for downclimbing, and seems like it will continue to be that way for at least a couple more weeks.
Eventually we made it to Boston Basin, much later and thirstier than we anticipated. The main creek crossing past Boston Basin was quite a sight, too much to wade through. But we crossed on snow a little higher up. From there, it was just a matter of getting home without falling asleep.