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[TR] North Cascades- Boston Basin - The Boston Marathon 07/10/2018

Sam Boyce

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Trip: North Cascades- Boston Basin - The Boston Marathon

Trip Date: 07/10/2018

Trip Report:


This is super delayed, but i was looking though old pics and thought this trip was worth sharing with y'all. Kyle was most certainly the brain-child behind this absurdity. I think it was sometime in the summer of 2017 he mentioned this idea of solo circumnaving boston basin. I was a bit suspicious that things might be a little more involved than was anticipated so told him i'd join in for a recon mission. We trail ran the sahale glacier route one day and gawked at the rest of the ridge, reading the unknown v known terrain and looking at the way the ridges tended to run. It was clear we were going in the wrong direction. For one, we would have to do the tft backwards, which would have honestly been the most chill weirdness. Downclimbing the ridge to sharkfin looked damn near suicidal. So we regrouped and planned a 2 day mission from the other end. We decided to start at the hidden lakes th and start on the triad via the sibley pass approach. When we hit the triad it was clear the "triad traverse" approach as described for marble creek basin didn't really let on to how gnarly the scrambling would be if one were to stay true to the ridge. We estimated summiting the triad sometime before 10 am, somewhere around mid afternoon we finally were running up the eldorado glacier. After tagging eldo via the east ridge, we ran over to the torment col while the sun was setting. After soloing the s ridge of torment in the morning, we realized we again had underestimated our objective, so we bailed down b basin and gorged on berries. One last attempt that summer would be thwarted by an overuse injury. And the september rains came, and boston basin stood like that itch you just cant reach all friggin winter long. Summer came around again and we were racking up at our first opportunity. Sometime in early July. 



looking back towards eldo and the triad on an early recon


We Again set up the car shuttle, but this time the road was closed at the eldo th, and we had 4 days off, so we figured we'd tentatively plan on just tossing the triplets, cascade and j-berg in on the final day (our plan was to scramble the j berg summit ridge and bushwack down the gnar forrest straight back to the eldo th.). Weather ultimately meant this final link would not go, but its certainly something to aspire to. We set off from the trailhead for the triad. This time, we were prepared for the choss. 


early scrambling


Kyle down-soloing some 5.6 choss on the triad


Some 4th class funk on the triad


100ft tower we climbed along the way, 5.7 nothing on top suggested we were the first to visit such a bizzare place


some more down climbin


w face of w triad 5.6 R super aesthetic 

The first time we visited the triad we stayed true to the ridge crest east of the eastern summit and down-climbed somewhere about a third or half way down the east ridge. This proved to be an extremely dangerous experiment in natural jenga. We pushed off multiple oven to mini cooper sized blocks that impeded safe passage. We ended up bailing down some 500 ft 5.4-5.7 wall to the glacier. This was the boldest down-soloing i've ever committed to and would never be recommended. Remembering this experience, we opted to drop off the ridge after the eastern summit of the triad. A quick jaunt accross the glacier brought us over to eldo. We decided the truest line would be to climb the south ridge of eldorado. We found info on the south face, but none on the south ridge. We thought this odd, but the ridge looked quite reasonable. It ended up providing 4-6 epic and high quality pitches of easy rock climbing. A worthy stand alone mission and my second favorite (second to the west arete) way to summit the mountain.



the first pitch gaining the s ridge of eldo


second pitch


some good ol' fashioned knife ridin


good conditions meant a casual walk down the e ridge

From the summit of eldo we decided to stop and rest at eldo camp rather than push through the dark to the torment col. I mean, there is a toilet there, thats pretty darn good motivation. We woke up early the next day and scurried across the feint climbers path leading over to torment. The torment col is always a neat place to hang out and fill up water. The true line here is the NW ridge of torment. We quickly glanced at the beckey bible the first time, and saw that it had gone. But when we got to the base of the ridge the gnar choss was quite strong, and we weren't entirely sure if we had the beta memorized, so we bailed back around the mountain to the south ridge. This time around we had taken some photos of the guidebook and decided to turn reason off. Getting on the ridge was the crux, purely mental, it turned out to be fairly easy going. There was one exposed and runout 5.8ish knife-edge pitch somewhere in there, but it all kinda blurred together. Soon enough we found ourselves on the summit of torment and in familiar terrain. The TFT awaited, finally some classic easy ridge travel! A classic b basin white out slowly creeped up as we reached the w ridge notch. It became apparent a storm was comming in so we scrambled to get the tarp up. We knew we were in for a wet night. 


looking over at the nw ridge of torment


the entrance to the ridge, what looked like 5.10 from afar turned out to be 5.6


some more ridge scrambles on torment


topping out the crux pitch of the nw ridge


looking back at the entrance to the tft. getting on the glacier required a 20ft pendulum, then we had to rap down that high bergshrund. our first overhanging rap off a snow bollard.


things were wet and snowy on the "3rd class rock" bypass variation


We woke up on day 3 soaked (i say woke up, but there wasn't that much sleep). Rain stopped around 1 pm. The whiteout however persisted. We eventually got restless and started up the w ridge of forbidden. Neither of us had been down the east side of the mountain before, so we knew we were in for a good challenge when the whiteout lingered, but we knew we had to keep going if the traverse was going to go down. Finding the raps down the east ledges was tricky, but not unreasonable, we eventually got onto the e shoulder of the mountain below the start of the east ridge route. and knew that we had no clue what layed ahead, so we tucked tails and pitched the tarp. 


west ridge with a fog break


another little break in the whiteout while descending the east ledges


our bivy the next morning, j-berg looking classy as ever

We awoke on day 4 with the sun and our first view of the nw ridge of boston. And we were decidedly a little concerned. Nonetheless we packed up and found our way down to the end of the e shoulder of forbidden. if ya think boston peak is choss, try scrambling around out here, it will change your understanding of the word. We reached the end, and the large cliff that would feed us to the the notch below the sharkfin ridge. this was truly un-rappellable terrain. So we backtracked to a low 5th class gully. A very stressful hour of downclimbing and rappelling spat us on the edge of the Qiuen Sabe. Another gully by the notch led us up to the steep hanging snowfield below the sharkfin ridge. We were short on time because of weather and opted to leave the subsummit west of sharkfin for another time. We quickly found ourselves at sharkfin. We climbed something on the sw ridge of the tooth, hard to remember exactly what we did. It was solid, exposed and 5.8. Had a hanging belay and no other signs of climbers. Not sure what we climbed, but it was fun. After some victory food on the summit we rapped off and set sail into a sea of virgin choss. I think there was maybe 1 more rappel to access boston, then we started up the ridge. We soloed about 1500 ft of low 5th class before hitting a vertical section and roping up. A circuitous combination of rappeling and ridge climbing brought us to the famous "ore" describing boston. A knife edge ridge guarded the easier looking summit headwall. The prospect of bailing at that point seemed worse than climbing the ridge, so i pushed up. The rock was best described as feta cheese. And i had to mow about a foot of the surface rock off as i au chevaled to ensure the entire ridge wouldn't collapse with me on it. I fabricated a belay half way across this called "off-belay". Kyle didn't look convinced i had found gear. Climbing delicately through the remaining pitches we found ourselves in unprotectable low 5th. So we soloed to the summit. The register up there is pretty rad, its a neat summit and the regular route doesn't look that bad. A few rappels and we knew we had done it, sahale was like the icing on the cake. And a 2000 ft boot ski down to the sahale arm was the reward. We blasted obscene music and trudged down to the cascade pass th. Overall we pitched out 26 pitches, rappelled 26 times and the gps read 26.2 miles back at the eldo th. A proper cascades test-piece. Some day we might go back and add j-berg. Maybe when memory fails us. "The Boston Marathon" VI 5.8R 


scouting the downclimb to the qiuen sabe


looking over at the nw ridge of boston


starting up sharkfin


the final approach to boston. We ended up climbing just under the ridge crest for good 4th and low 5th class traversing until the gendarme right before the ridge starts gaining elevation, thats were we roped up


the first roped climbing on boston


finishing up on the first pitch of the au cheval


Heres the track i took of the traverse loaded into caltopo, my phone died for about half of boston peak, so there is a straight line through that section.

Gear Notes:
Single Rack to 2, 50m half rope

Approach Notes:
We approached via the hidden lakes th with a car shuttle to the eldo th

Edited by Sam Boyce
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I had the idea after soloing Forbidden a month earlier before the first attempt. We had too many projects at the time, and we both partially destroyed our vehicles setting up the car shuttles. (Must remember: Warped Rotors and bent rim/flat tire...) 

The first time we were just burnt out from onsighting the Triad Traverse, rapping off root balls, downsoloing 5.7 on virgin rock and knocking off refrigerator sized blocks. The final attempt a little earlier season allowed us to spend more time on snow and not be so baked by the sun. We left only a single red tricam rappelling the TFT.

we almost gave up on the rest of the Traverse once we saw the garbage pile that was west Sharkfin, it looks so good from far away! After a dry ramen block I reckoned we wern’t Coming back out here again. Thus, the endless, super dangerous and humorous Traverse to the summit of Boston was awesome. I was nearly passed out belaying in the shade when I saw Sam unprotected 80ft out on a au cheval on rock that looked more like petrified horse shit. I immediately came to attention, this was crazy. A few pitches of extremely memorable choss traverse with a mank fixed Metolius cam had us in scramble town. 

Also, do not forget your breakfast burrito in the van.0F98FE08-70D0-4760-B1BE-5B59371230FD.thumb.jpeg.57a1295d5392c3b829ce9df3017d334f.jpegthe traverse around to Sharkfin up a hot wet snow couloir.C878CBD7-745D-4976-9DCE-B366990A12D0.thumb.jpeg.889ef2010dbaf9b78cd4dafe31a33978.jpeg

endless choss soloing to the knife edge pitches of Boston92F569A8-5A71-4ACE-8EF5-E2B0F8E0CFCB.thumb.jpeg.6ff447ce87e2c09071174d371ee7f501.jpeg

the tricky unprotectable downclimb on the Triad Traverse.F1DEEC1E-8D63-463C-91E9-3F0EE7E18937.thumb.jpeg.f76e1052a4331e36841a6ad714fc3804.jpeg

THIS F**king rappel920261C5-C052-43EB-B12D-5A7B9447813D.thumb.jpeg.e011173f823999f1999f25e150376438.jpeg

looking back at Eldo, a few hours later that storm hit us as we reached the notch below the West Ridge of Forbidden.

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