Trip: Torment forbidden traverse - Tft Trip Date: 07/28/2020 Trip Report:
While driving to the cascade pass trailhead Monday night I noticed that I didn’t seem to care about climbing. So I was a little unsure about why I was going but part of me knew I would be having a great time the next day. Arriving in the night, the sound and sights of Johannesburg (snow glowing in the starlight) rekindled my stoke. I slept about 4 hours, then rolled down to the boston basin trailhead and hit the trail just before 4am.
Even in the early morning the creeks were raging. I’ve always beenable to find a dry route through these creeks, but not so on Tuesday. I took time to remove my shoes and dry my feet afterwards at 3 crossings. It was going to be a long day and I didn’t want to start out with wet shoes.
At Boston basin I started ascending too soon but fortunately realizedthis without getting too far off, descending 200 ft or so to the SW around cliffs to get to the slabs leading to Torment. I stocked up on water at the last flow I saw a few hundred feet below the notch. I noticed another party nearing the top of Torment, which was a little surprising for a weekday. I would later pass them on the steep snow traverse while they were doing the rock bypass.
The first thing I was worried about for this route was the moat at the notch. It wasn’t too bad. Snow was pretty hard there. Could get dicey soon. Moving across the moat the gully was steep and muddy. I squirmed up the gully using my axe in the ice to my left for leverage and getting a bit of a mud bath in the process. Didn’t feel super secure here given the steep mud. At the top of that snow+ice I was able to move from the mud to rock and was soon at the top of the gully.
The first couple moves off the deck were harder than I expected, maybe 5.6. It was all pretty easy from there. The two keys to the route finding are to take the ledges down and left after that first steep 15 feet, and then to go left when you get to the gully that’s around that corner, instead of entering the gully. It’s all pretty intuitive after that, and there are rap anchors along the route to help you keep your bearings. I thought Torment was quite fun actually. The rock isn’t terrible and the Johannesburg and Eldorado backdrops are excellent. Would be worthwhile on its own, and makes for a nice warmup for the traverse.
After descending Torment, at the notch with the rappel to north side snow I saw there was a block of snow bridging the moat that will probably be gone in a few days. But since it looked like there was a bergschrund below I did the first rap anyway, heading skier’s right toward another rap. Unfortunately that one wouldn’t reach a safe spot on the snow, so I kept rapping skier’s right along rock ledges. Finally on the 4th rap from the notch I got to a flat spot on snow. Looking back I saw the bergschrund was actually still closed at skier’s left. I could have avoided all the raps if I had gone that way. But it was very steep there, almost vertical. Pretty intimidating from above. I wasted some time with all the raps and scouting the terrain, but it felt safer than the skier’s left option.
After you get to the next rock ridge the terrain is indistinct. I followed the path of least resistance, hoping I wouldn’t get cliffed out, and it worked ok. After crossing over, the route then goes straight up the ridge on its east side. I was pleasantly surprised with a lot of wildflowers in this section just before the steep snow traverse.
I brought two ice tools and steel strap-on crampons. This was probably overkill. Snow was pretty soft, so a single regular ax and aluminum crampons would have been ok for these conditions. It was almost too soft. Occasionally the snow would collapse a few extra inches under my feet while shifting my weight to the left. Would have been worried about getting mushed off the face if it were much warmer. Not sure that pickets would have been any help, so going solo here wasn’t necessarily more dangerous than pitching it out, maybe safer (faster). The traverse doesn’t look very wide, but carefully side stepping took me about a half hour. It was a little tedious. Next time I’d like to do the rock bypass instead.
I took my first real break of the day afterward, digging into lunch and trying to dry out a little. Then I continued on the south side. There is a snowpatch dripping into some slabs that requires a little care. I was traversing the top of the slabs near the snow and got sketched out for the last 10 feet, backed up, and found a better way a little lower.
Next came some nice granite boulder hopping and then another vegetated flowery area. Did some more boulder hopping from there to regain the ridge. Exposure along the ridge was pretty fun, but not quite as good as the E ridge . The rock was quite good, reminded me of the upper part of the NW ridge. My decision to climb the route despite low motivation was being validated with every step. I stayed mostly on the ridge, with a little bypass on the north side at one point. In at least one place I did some steep downclimbing instead of rapping. Near the end of the traverse I headed south on sandy ledges to reach the base of the west ridge notch. At this time there was one party that had just descended, one still descending, and one probably just arriving at the summit. Busy, but not terribly crowded.
I hadn’t found much info about doing the climb c2c beforehand, so was a little worried about squeezing it all in. Would have been ok skipping the W ridge if I was short on time. And I had been moving cautiously throughout the day, at times even timidly. Even so, it was still early afternoon at this point so I felt I had the time. I put on rock shoes and put a rope on my back.
I had downclimbed the route in the past (after NW ridge) so it was familiar. But I had not yet ascended it. Was nice to see it again. I like the first wide step across a gap at the start, and the last slightly overhanging block that you have to downclimb right before the summit. It was a warm, clear day and summit views were obviously wonderful.
I downclimbed the ridge except for one rap at the 5.6 tower, where I had stashed the rope I brought. The other party on the traverse was arriving at the base of the W ridge when I got back to my pack. Changed back into approach shoes and downclimbed most of the gullies leading to boston basin, with one rap at the end onto the snow.
From there, some approach shoe skiing, passing through boston basin, then marmot metropolis, and then another nice break after crossing the E fork of Boston creek. For all its thunder there was a way through that was only about knee deep.
It wasn’t clear to me how long to expect the different portions of the climb to take. I had guessed it would be 15-18 hours total. It ended up being a little less than 15. I noted the time for various points along the climb, in case it helps anyone planning a c2c trip. Of course snow+moat conditions could make things faster or slower, belaying any of the route would make it slower, and trying to get off Forbidden on a weekend is a guaranteed traffic jam. That said, I took my time, didn’t race.
3:50 leave trailhead
7:10 moat crossing start of Torment
8:30 summit of Torment
8:50 first rap to Forbidden glacier to begin traverse
10:05 done rapping
10:50 begin steep snow traverse
11:20 finish steep snow traverse, lunch
11:45 resume traverse on S side
12:40 start of sidewalk
1:10 base of Forbidden W ridge
1:25 start climbing W ridge
1:50 summit Forbidden
2:05 start W ridge descent (including one rap)
2:40 back at the start of W ridge, start descending gullies
3:40 out of the gullies onto snow
6:35 back at car
This is a fantastic route, one of my favorites so far. Especially everything east of the steep snow traverse. Would do again
Rope, tools, crampons Approach Notes:
Creeks are high