Trip: Forbidden Peak - East Ridge Direct
For BOEALPS ICC Alpine 3 Sasha, Pierre, Ambrose and myself headed out for a go at Forbidden Peak via the East Ridge Direct.
We headed out after work on Friday and got to Marblemount only to find the permits all taken for Boston Basin. We weren't terribly surprised given the great weather, so we forged ahead planning to climb car-to-car on Saturday. We bivied at the trailhead under an obscenely bright moon with alarms set for 4am. Started moving on the trail by 4:40am with just enough light to forgo headlamps. We made our way up the trail and over the stream crossings without any issue -- pro tip: let the heavy guy (me) test the snow bridge on the first one.
Though we didn't have camping permits, we also didn't savor the idea of being caught wandering around after dark, so we brought bivy gear just in case our climb went long. We stashed the bivy gear under a tree at the lower Boston Basin campsite (note: the toilet's been dug out and ready for use) and hiked up with just what we needed to climb and descend the route, planning on a West Ridge descent given last week's trip report of snowy East ledges.
We made it to the solitary gendarme at the start of the route around 9am and started racking up for the climb. We brought our boots and ice axes in preparation for a West Ridge descent, so everyone climbed with a light pack.
There was a team of three ahead of us that initially gave us pause -- we were in a hurry man, we only had one day! But they were cruising along just fine and stayed well ahead of us the whole time.
We were roped up and climbing around 9:30am, swinging leads and bypassing the gendarme prior to the crux pitch in order to save time. The crux pitch indeed had the hardest moves of the route, but fortunately it was only a couple of harder moves and then up and over to set up the summit pitch.
Sasha and I arrived at a crowded summit around 3pm and saw fellow boealpers Matt and Sara making their way over from the West Ridge. After everyone got up the E Ridge and the boealps reunion was complete we started to wait for the West Ridge descent to clear up while we enjoyed some spectacular summit views. The West Ridge had a seemingly endless stream of climbers, it was nearing 4pm, and we were needing to get down - so we took our chances on the East Ledges descent.
The Beckey guide says 5 rappels gets down to the ledges and other TRs say that not rappeling enough can give you some grief, so we counted (out loud!) 5 rappels from station to station, adding a sling to the last one. Throughout our traverse it seemed like it was always just a bit easier and more secure just below us, so we occasionally chose to down climb. Perhaps a 6th single rope rappel would have saved us the trouble? Or perhaps that's just the route? Either way we made it across with no issues except for me dropping my sunglasses a couple dozen feet (successfully recovered!), an exposed and chossy bathroom break with a blue-bag (not me!), and a bit of snow that Ambrose kicked through in his rock shoes (Pierre, Sasha, and I climbed some dry rock just above it).
We returned to the solitary gendarme at 6pm and changed back into boots. Turns out we didn't need to climb with the packs after all! Made it back to our bivy stash around 7pm and kept hustling down the trail, getting back to the trailhead in full daylight around 8:30pm for some warm beers from the car.
All in all, it was an awesome introduction to alpine climbing for me (my previous two attempts on other climbs were weathered-out and bergschrunded-out, respectively). Couldn't have asked for better weather and it sure didn't hurt to spend Saturday night at home in a comfy bed after a long day. Although it would have been nice to have found some open restaurants closer to the trailhead when we were finished!
tl;dr - Forbidden Peak's E Ridge Direct in one long day. East Ledges descent is in. Sunny skies makes alpine climbing more fun.
(Most of the photos are from Sasha and Pierre)
Boston Basin in the morning.
The fully snowed in gully on the right took us right up to the solitary gendarme at the start of the rock route (just visible, left-center of image)
Johannesburg shedding off more avalanches (whoomp there it is).
Ironic pose, Sasha edition.
Ambrose watching Sasha lead out the next pitch as I quietly work on my crossword puzzle.
Ambrose leading out a gendarme bypass.
Ironic pose, Brandon edition.
Sara and Matt popping over the West Ridge.
A view from the top.
BOEALPS reunion on the summit.
Making our way across the East ledges.
The only major snow we encountered on the East ledges is shown in this photo -- we were able to climb above it and avoid chilly toes.
Each team climbed on a 60m half rope.
Set of nuts, cams to 2", plenty of slings (heavy on the doubles).
Rock shoes (boots for Pierre!).
Standard Boston Basin approach via the Diamond Mine trail from the hairpin turn at ~3200' on Cascade River Road. Creek crossings were not an issue, although it might get interesting when the snow bridge melts out on the first major crossing. Once into Boston Basin it's pretty straight forward up to the ridge. Your mileage may vary.