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timmy_t

[TR] Forbidden Tour - w/ Eldorado summit 4/2/2013

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Trip: Forbidden Tour - with Eldorado summit

 

Date: 4/2/2013

 

Trip Report:

Three friends and I jumped on a last-minute trip around Forbidden after seeing the perfect weather forecast for the Easter weekend. We spent four days in the backcountry doing the Forbidden Tour: we skinned up to Boston Basin, climbed up and over Sharkfin Col, traversed the Boston Glacier up and over the North Ridge of Forbidden, skiied down to Moraine Lake, then skinned up the Inspiration Glacier to Eldorado (which we climbed), and finally we skiied/hiked back down to the Cascade River Road. Other than some clouds and really bad snow on the last day coming down from Eldorado we had perfect weather and an amazing trip.

 

We had brought a chainsaw after reading about a tree across the Cascade River Road but the guys who climbed/skied Spider beat us to it, so we were able to drive all the way to a bit past MP 17 after digging the 4Runner out a couple of times in the dip by the bridge just past the Mineral Park campground. On the way back it was an easy drive, as lots of snow had melted, so you should be able to get to MP 17 comfortably. There's a brief patch of no snow on the road after you park, and then it's continuous and pretty deep all the way to the gate at the Eldorado TH at MP 20.

 

Travis brought his road sled and ferried our packs up to the gate @ MP 21 (before the big switchback), then came back to tow us the last mile to the Eldorado gate at MP 20 (as we had already skinned 2 miles). We dropped the sled here so we wouldn't have to hike back up the road to get it on the way out.

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The weather was perfect but we got a really late start, leaving the car @3:15pm

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We followed the sled track of the guys who climbed/skied Spider (I think), and we were impressed they got it over the gate at MP 21.

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Mark skinning toward Boston Basin

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We camped @ 5500' in Boston Basin, arriving just before dark. The next morning we watched the moon dip behind Johannesburg, and it was so clear you could make out craters with the telephoto lens.

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Had an very unalpine start, which turned out to be a theme of the trip. Here Travis skins under Forbidden Peak.

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And here's Derrick after switching to crampons. We had to forgo skins for about 1000' (ski crampons would have been nice), but it was an easy boot pack to where the angle lessens above the moraine.

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Heading up the Quien Sabe toward Sharkfin

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Johannesburg towers across the valley

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The climb up Sharkfin Col was fun, with one spicy bit of unconsolidated snow over steep rock about 3/4 of the way up.

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We took two 30m ropes for the rappel onto the Boston Glacier, and that was enough to get us right above the bergshrund, which we jumped over. We probably could have downclimbed it if we had to but the ropes were nice to have along.

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After eating lunch at the bergshrund we skied @ 1000' down and across the Boston Glacier. You can see our trail down from Sharkfin Col in the background, just up and right of Mark.

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Here Travis and Mark are chasing Derrick on the ski down the Boston Glacier

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Crossing the Boston Glacier

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The north face of Buckner

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Skinning under Forbidden's North Ridge

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Boston Peak and Sharkfin Tower

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High on the Boston Glacier, almost to the crossing of the North Ridge

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We got antsy and went left too soon, so we ended up rappelling off a horn down a steep gully while crossing the North Ridge. But at least we got this great view of the North Ridge and north face ski route on Forbidden.

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And now for the suuuper fun 3000+ ski descent down to Moraine Lake!

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First we traversed right to where we should have come over the saddle in the first place

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Then we made turns down the Forbidden Glacier

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Derrick snowboarding below Forbidden's north face

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It was warm enough that we found dripping water coming from the rocks a couple hundred feet above the lake, which saved a bunch of time melting snow but it didn't bode well for the avy conditions the next morning. We dug out a nice spot and camped on a knoll near Moraine Lake. (That's Mt Torment in the background)

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The next morning we crossed the frozen Moraine Lake. Travis is the little blip on the lake just to the left of the cliffs on the right side of the photo.

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Derrick crossing Moraine Lake below Mt Torment

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Travis skins across Moraine Lake

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The Forbidden Glacier is in the background here

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Heading toward the Inspiration Glacier, with Eldorado poking up in the top center of the photo. It was sooo beautiful down in the Moraine Lake basin, just a phenomenal place to tour through.

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It warmed up quickly and we heard/saw lots of small slides coming down all around the Moraine Lake basin as we made our way up. There's nothing like skinning through fresh avy debris.

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Derrick gains some elevation

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We stopped for lunch once we got to a bench above the cliffy area, then continued on a very direct, pleasant route up the Inspiration toward Eldorado. The boys are in the bottom left-center of the photo.

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Inspiration Glacier ice

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Perfect weather as we look back at Forbidden and Torment towering above the Moraine Lake basin

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There was one easily-crossed crevassed section on the skin up

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Almost to the base of Eldorado. We came across the skin track here of the recent skiers who did the Isolation Traverse, which you can see as a faint line just above Mark (the skier in front).

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We set up camp on the rocky shoulder just below Eldorado; not a bad place to spend a night.

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After resting we skinned up the East Ridge of Eldorado to just below the summit

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Time to take the skis off and boot up

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Mark kicking steps toward Eldorado's summit

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After enjoying the view from the top we headed back to our skis

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Time to ski down to camp

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Mark links a couple of nice powder turns on the flanks of Eldorado

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The third night was cold and windy and the clouds blew in around sunset, but sunrise the fourth morning was beautiful and clear.

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Looking up at our turns on Eldorado at sunrise

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Glacier Peak

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Spider and Formidable behind Cascade Peak

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Formidable and Dome Peak behind Johannesburg

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Buckner, Forbidden, and Boston peaks and morning clouds

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Derrick crosses the last flat spot on the Inspiration in front of Point 7733 before the 5000'+ drop to the Cascade River Road

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One final look at Eldorado before skiing into the clouds. The ski down to the saddle crossing was terrible, but it improved once over the saddle and down the boulder basin to the trees.

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And what North Cascades ski trip would be complete without a forest hike? Thanks for reading the TR!

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Gear Notes:

A 30m rope or two and a whippet and you're good to go. And thanks to the American Alpine Institute in Bellingham for the splitboard rental!

 

Approach Notes:

Cascade River Road is drivable to @ MP 17, then snowmobile-able to either MP 21 or to the road's end at MP 23 depending on if you can get over or under the gate. The skin up into Boston Basin is straightforward. If you're heading to Eldorado the most difficult part is just after crossing the river (finding the trail + lots of postholing); once a hundred feet above the river the trail is easy to follow almost to the boulder field (which is all deep snow).

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Thanks for posting the TR. Some very nice pics there too.

 

Looks like I just missed you guys on my hike. I thought I'd heard voices at one point, but attributed it to possible hallucinatory affects of a 12 mile snow shoe with a fairly full pack...

 

d

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woooooo! 1/2 your photo limks are broken, but the half that work are awesome. Those are some of the best winter shots in the north cascades ever. You should send this TR to Backcountry Magazine, or other publications.

Nice work! Gorgeous!

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woooooo! 1/2 your photo limks are broken, but the half that work are awesome.

 

Weird, it works for me on two different computers, and I shrunk them down pretty good. If anybody else notices broken that the photos don't load please let me know and I'll try to fix it. Maybe I just posted too many photos.

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Looks like I just missed you guys on my hike. I thought I'd heard voices at one point, but attributed it to possible hallucinatory affects of a 12 mile snow shoe with a fairly full pack...

d

 

We ran into three guys on snowshoes with giant packs coming down the road when we were still at the cars (@ MP 17), that wasn't you?

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Killer TR. This area is one of my absolute favorites for ski mountaineering in the Cascades. I cant believe its been almost 10 years since we did our own version of the Forbidden tour. This was a great trip down memory lane and has me stoked to return to this area. Thanks!

 

That shot of the moon above jberg is stunning!

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Looks like I just missed you guys on my hike. I thought I'd heard voices at one point, but attributed it to possible hallucinatory affects of a 12 mile snow shoe with a fairly full pack...

d

 

We ran into three guys on snowshoes with giant packs coming down the road when we were still at the cars (@ MP 17), that wasn't you?

 

Nope, I was solo and my pack was just under 40lb. "Fairly full", not gigantic.

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Nice when timing, weather, and logistics all work. Good score - thanks for the stoke and photos.

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one of those guys was me. i wasn't affiliated with the other two. i was checking out the approach for El Dorado as I had friends from New York flying in the next weekend to attempt it with me, but as you know you guys scored the good weather and the following week it went to utter shit. We ended up at the Lookout mountain fire lookout instead and did far more drinking of whisky and bs-ing than climbing.

J

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