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#1156182 - 08/08/17 11:22 AM [TR] Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat 8/6/2017
dlilz Offline

Registered: 05/02/17
Posts: 1
TRs: 1 Photos: 0
Trip: Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat

Date: 8/6/2017

Trip Report:
Went up to climb the West Ridge of Forbidden this weekend, turned around at the moat on top of the snowfield at 7:30 Sunday morning after getting injured in a nasty rock shower. We spent Saturday night at the upper bivvy, and after an hour of walking made up the slabs and over the snowfield to the left side of the big rock. The only party ascending ahead of us was just starting up the snow couloir, so we thought we would be out of rockfall danger in the bypass gullies, at least until they got to the upper portion of the couloir.

We switched shoes and were tying in when we heard rumbling from above, and both got tight against the low-angle rock. Two football sized chunks went overhead and we were hit by a rain of pebbles on the back, followed by a break but we could hear that a lot more rock was coming. We were really exposed because of the angle of the terrain, so we both jumped into the moat above the snowfield (about five feet below us) where we would be more protected by the vertical/overhanging granite. On the way in I took a grapefruit sized rock to the arm and another decent sized rock to the head, cracking my helmet. A good bit more rock went past after we made it into the moat, probably something like 20 baseball to softball sized chunks and a couple football sized ones.

We were pretty happy to be alive, but I couldn't really use my right arm, and it was bleeding a bit, very swollen and crooked looking. We bandaged up the arm to stop the bleeding while still in the moat and my partner lowered me down the snow to where it was low enough angle that I was positive a self-arrest wouldn't be necessary (in retrospect could have saved 15 minutes and just walked down, the snowfield is really chill, but the rope was out, harnesses were on, and there was some tat right there that we added a rap ring to). From the snowfield on the way down we could see a party rappelling the gullies, which must have been the source of all the rock. We reassessed when we got to the upper bivvy, splinted my arm, and headed down as quickly as possible. Made it to the hospital in Mt. Vernon about 6 hours after the injury, and after a few x-rays found out that the arm was not broken! A bit of glue in the biggest cut and we were back on our way home. I feel pretty lucky to be typing this--if it was one of the larger rocks that had hit me in the head I doubt I would be alive. The cuts and huge bruise on my arm will be healed within two weeks, so other than a cracked helmet and a bunch of clothes shredded from the smaller rocks that fell, we came out extremely well.

We always accept some risk of rockfall on alpine routes, especially on popular ones during the weekend. However, in this case the risk was drastically increased by a party choosing to bivvy on route then descend at what is almost certainly one of the most popular times for ascent all year. We were in too much of a rush out of there to wait to talk to the other party, and perhaps their night on route was not planned, but due to the lack of gear stashed at the bivvy sites I suspect spent the night up there intentionally. It allowed them to avoid crowds, but put us at serious risk. Moreover, we must have been visible to the descending party as we crossed the snowfield, and likely before that as we crossed the slabs. We were careful about being out of hangfire from the party we knew was ascending above us, but a descending party at 7:30am caught us off guard. While it's a pretty lame trip report, I wanted to put this up as a plea to others to consider who is/likely will be below you when you are descending. If you cannot travel without sending down rockfall, you maybe should not be traveling when you know there are parties below you, or at times when it should be really obvious that people will be ascending.

Gear Notes:
Trail runners with crampons were sufficient to get up the snow to the bypass gullies.

Approach Notes:
Streams are easy to cross, the "glacier" is really just a snowfield on the west side. The approach is extremely easy.

Edited by dlilz (08/08/17 11:35 AM)

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#1156185 - 08/08/17 11:46 AM Re: [TR] Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat 8/6/2017 [Re: dlilz]
Bronco Offline

Registered: 02/16/01
Posts: 3555
TRs: 15 Photos: 131
Loc: Port Gardner, WA
Glad to hear you're ok. Your story is certainly worth consideration of folks bivied on the TFT. I remember the W. Ridge Notch being tough to see until we were right on top of it and realized we could be above other climbers. Thanks for posting your story.

#1156209 - 08/09/17 09:13 AM Re: [TR] Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat 8/6/2017 [Re: dlilz]
alps Offline

Registered: 07/12/07
Posts: 52
TRs: 3 Photos: 6
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm glad to hear that you didn't get more seriously hurt! Thanks for the report!

#1156210 - 08/09/17 10:28 AM Re: [TR] Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat 8/6/2017 [Re: dlilz]
Todd Anderson Offline

Registered: 10/21/15
Posts: 60
TRs: 2 Photos: 30
Loc: Seattle, WA
Gear notes: helmets, riot shields, Project Grizzly

Glad you guys are okay!

#1156214 - 08/09/17 11:40 AM Re: [TR] Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat 8/6/2017 [Re: dlilz]
seano- Offline

Registered: 06/15/16
Posts: 25
TRs: 2 Photos: 3
Loc: Western US
Yikes! Glad you're mostly okay. This is a good reminder of the risks and responsibilities of climbing in popular areas, both of which I should probably think more about.

#1156215 - 08/09/17 12:30 PM Re: [TR] Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat 8/6/2017 [Re: dlilz]
geosean Offline

Registered: 06/04/14
Posts: 62
TRs: 18 Photos: 45
Loc: Bellingham
Well expressed and a good assessment of the issues involved. I have been almost killed by rappelling parties as well. BE CAREFUL out there, please, everyone. And try to avoid knocking stuff down while raping.

Glad you ended up OK.
- Sean

#1156216 - 08/09/17 01:27 PM Re: [TR] Forbidden Peak - West ridge moat 8/6/2017 [Re: geosean]
JasonG Offline

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 2794
TRs: 107 Photos: 1811
Loc: Mount Vernon
Originally Posted By: geosean
And try to avoid knocking stuff down while raping.



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