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[TR] Forbidden Peak - North Ridge 07/15/2018

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Trip: Forbidden Peak - North Ridge

Trip Date: 07/15/2018

Trip Report:


From July 15-17, Tom and I climbed the beautiful North Ridge of Forbidden in a slow but safe/deliberate fashion. The ridge was the longest alpine rock route either of us had attempted yet but we hoped to be able to pull off all the technical climbing in two days. 

We left the Eldorado Creek parking lot around 9 AM and reached the base of the Sharkfin Col bypass gully around 1:00 PM. The gully is in great shape, still filled with lots of snow. We crossed to rock below the top of the gully and made the mistake of climbing to a notch that was too high and too far east along the ridge. We found no sign of a rap station and had to downclimb to the notch to climber's left of this higher one to find a spot to rap over to Boston Glacier.


The Sharkfin Col notches & Bypass Gully

Right now a single rap brings you safely to a large pile of icefall debris that you can navigate to get onto the Boston Glacier without difficulty. There were multiple other rap stations along the way down to the debris from the notch. The traverse to the North Ridge from the rap was easy and took us about an hour. 


The Boston Glacier is in great shape.

The gully to access the bivy notch on the North Ridge is almost completely melted out but the moat is still passable. We crossed to the rock and found a third class move and then a short second class scramble to gain the notch.


Bivy Notch center-left

We found another pair of climbers enjoying the afternoon at the notch. Their goal was the NW Arete and we had a great time watching them fly up that route the next day from our positions on the NR. Great meeting you guys! After a quick dinner and a birthday cookie for me, we settled into the two smaller bivy spots for the sunset and sleep. I did wake up around 2:30 to find a snafflehound gnawing away at the brim of my hat so be careful out there with your salty things, kids. We think the same little guy took a pair of socks that mysteriously disappeared overnight.


Sunset on Buckner from the bivy notch

We started off the next morning at 7:50 AM and quickly moved through the 5.6 crux left-leaning corner that rises almost straight out of the bivy notch. It was just fine leading it in mountaineering boots with an (overly) heavy pack. From there we encountered mostly moderate, super fun third class scrambling all the way to the lower snowfield. We simul-climbed to the lower snowfield, but there were stretches where the rope didn't feel necessary.

IMG_1036.thumb.JPG.104c086ee758208ea4b04a5fd5aa6a5a.JPGTom follows shortly after leaving the bivy

Both snowfields are still completely covering the ridgeline, so a bypass on rock on climber's left isn't available. We put crampons on to cross the first snowfield, which was pretty flat and easy to get across without an ax. The climbing above the first snowfield felt harder than the lower ridge and we climbed mostly on the left (east) side of the ridge on ledge systems and in gullies. We almost exclusively simul-climbed and placed a lot of cams and slings. I felt there was at least one low/mid fifth class move to get back up onto the ridge crest from the left side of the ridge. Once back onto the ridge crest we found lovely, exposed, knife edge climbing on solid rock all the way up to the second snowfield.


The ridge between the lower and upper snowfields

We reached the upper snowfield around 12:30 PM and stopped to melt snow to refill our 6L of bottles. This turned out to be a good move because we didn't encounter snow again until midday the next day. The upper snowfield has a much steeper angle and an ax and crampons were definitely nice. The climbing above the upper snowfield felt like a significant increase in difficulty from what we'd encountered along the ridge between the lower and upper snowfields. We slowed down and pitched out the climbing in short pitches several times. We carefully considered our route-finding decisions. Teams with more simul-climbing experience in fourth class terrain could move through this section much faster than we did but we felt better with a belay on several occasions. We climbed on both sides of the ridge as well as on the ridge crest itself following good cracks and solid rock. The climbing was steep but mostly third/fourth class with a few moves that felt like low fifth. We watched the pair we'd met at the bivy notch dance up the upper pitches of the NW Arete which was great entertainment as we slowly but surely moved up our ridge. Just below the summit we left the ridge to scramble up a third class gully on the right (west) side of the ridge before reaching the top at 6:20 PM.


The North Ridge from the Summit

We quickly began our descent of the West Ridge with three single rappels from obvious rap stations. After the third rap we lost all sunlight and stopped to bivy for a second night about halfway down the West Ridge. We found two relatively flat spots to lay out our packs and some rocks to make for a surprisingly enjoyable night in a relatively precarious spot. Some trail mix and beef jerky served as dinner but we fortunately had plenty of water left. We watched a beautiful moonset and headed to bed.


West Ridge Bivy

We were up by 6 and could already see several teams starting off up the West Ridge from the notch. After a Clif Bar, we made one more rappel down to ledges that we could scramble along to get down to the West Ridge notch. Two full 60m rappels got us down the Cat Scratch gullies to Boston Basin.

Gear Notes:
Two half ropes (only used one, except in the Cat Scratch rappels)

9 cams from 0.3 to 2 with alpine draws (used every one)

Rack of nuts (used two, didn't need them)

8 slings (used every one)

Mountaineering boots

Approach Notes:
Don't climb to the highest notch in Sharkfin Col

Edited by samueleley
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Extraordinary trip - thanks for posting the pictures and route conditions.  We are planning this trip in August and hope the moat will be still passible. 

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For future info @samueleley...I've found that putting everything in a large, heavy duty, plastic bag deters most :pagetop:.  It appears that they don't like to chew on that type of plastic. Just a few days ago I watched one crawl all over my plastic bag (with salty clothes and food in it) before losing interest and going off into the night to terrorize something else.

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