Jump to content

[TR] Mount Torment - North Ridge 08/09/2020


Recommended Posts

Trip: Mount Torment - North Ridge

Trip Date: 08/09/2020

Trip Report:


If anyone's noticed, I am not so regular at posting TRs any longer.  New job, older kids, a lack of anything new to say.....the list of excuses is long.  But, to be honest, this is still my favorite place in cyber-land to post vignettes of my life in the hills. So here I am, slowly plugging away at catching you all up on the riveting adventures of an aging alpine "lifer".

In this installment, we pick back up in August of 2020 and on an adventure close to home for both @dberdinka and myself.  Jokingly, we said that we would go on a trip wherever arcs drawn in a 60 mile radius from our homes converged.  This was not absolutely true for Torment, but pretty darn close. We have an embarrassment of riches right in our own backyards!  We typically only ski a few times a year together and had been talking of an alpine climb for far too long.  This may have been our first time summer climbing together?

But first we had to get a permit!  We weren't worried about the Torment Basin zone being full, but we WERE worried about the line at the ranger station. As you all surely must know by now, a August Saturday morning at the ranger station is only slightly less crowded than Mecca during the Hajj.  Since it was misting, and we only had to hike to camp, we didn't get there early, probably about 0830.  We pulled number 114(??!!) and settled in for the wait.  There really must be a better system than what is currently being used.  I'll let you tell me exactly what in the comments below. :battlecage:


Permit in hand we struck out in the increasingly heavy "mist" for the TH.  This is the first hurdle.  It isn't marked, and there isn't a lot of traffic up it to make where the trail leaves from the Cascade River Road obvious.  Look for it on the left, just after the 2nd bridge over the Cascade River, past the Eldo TH.  Space for one car on the right and the trail takes off steeply just across the road.   It starts out vague and gets better as you get higher.  Decades ago this sounds like it was a major thoroughfare, but it has fallen into obscurity.  Yes, you heard me.  This is a route in the Cascade River corridor where solitude on an August weekend is possible!  I'll let you figure out where the trail is and where it goes, however.  Good things come to those who investigate.




So I'll skip ahead to arriving a few hours later in the basin.   It had stopped raining but was still damp, cool, and cloudy.  We wandered for a decent amount of time, looking for established camps.  Finding none (obscurity!), we found a flatish slab of rock and cleared the loose stones for an OK night.  It didn't help I forgot my pad at the car.  D'oh!  Nevermind that, I certainly couldn't complain.  I was with the one and only @dberdinka on an honest to goodness climb!  I was also nervous.  You all know how fast, competent, and technically savvy Mr. Berdinka is- I had to buck up and look tough.

The alarm went off quite early (did I expect anything else?) and @dberdinka was immediately ready, or so it seemed.  I fumbled around the tent for a bit but eventually got it together and we set off in the dim mists for the col that would take us around to the North side of Torment.  Be warned that you will need to do one 30m rap to get past an imposing gully of doom along the way.  There is a horn for an anchor, but I'll let you find it.  Obscurity!2020NRtorment75992.JPG.ac3f562ff9637f1800b74e330f4dde7c.JPG




And then, you'll need to expeditiously move under and away from a non-daddy friendly ice cliff.  Channel your inner Ueli:


But don't worry, alpine glory aspirants, at this point you've reached the promised land!  Firm rock (4th and easy 5th), outrageous position, and no other parties to ruin your wilderness experience.  It really is worth the price of admission.  It is an Ed Cooper climb, after all.






The only downside to climbs like this, of course, is that they are over too soon.  But, we have wives and kids that want us to come home at a reasonable hour, so all good things in moderation.  @dberdinka looking fashionable on the summit:


As with most North Cascadian summits, there was then the question of which way down? We hemmed and hawed, ultimately eschewing the standard SE face descent (how would the moat be?  Would we end up like Craig Luebben?) for the wandering South Ridge (standard approach to TFT).  While this isn't a terrible way up, it isn't a great way down.  Lots of insecure scrambling between raps where a fall would most likely be fatal.  Again, not exactly daddy friendly. 



But, we survived to reach our camp and the delightful meadows of Torment Basin a couple hours later.  And you probably will too.





So, next August, don't complain that there are crowds on "all" the classic climbs in NCNP.  Go do some exploring!

Gear Notes:
60m half rope, light rack, helmet, axe, crampons, etc. We used rock shoes, but you probably don't need them (we didn't know what to expect). The full alpine kit!

Approach Notes:
The "excellent" Torment Basin route. Green Fred details it nicely. It needs some traffic, however!

  • Like 7
  • Snaffled 1
  • Rawk on! 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great photos as usual and good work finding a route without crowds.  Like many folks, I had my closest call on Torment with rockfall.  I remember saying to myself, "make yourself small, make yourself small" while cowering behind a tiny outcropping with my pack pulled up to cover the back of my neck.  Definitely not dad approved.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, JasonG said:

Oh?  What was that story @Bronco?

Me and a partner were attempting the TFT and took the SE Face of Torment.  We had let our guard down after pulling over the 'schrund and were still roped-up while scrambling up the SE face feeling like we'd passed the difficult problems.  I don't remember if my partner kicked it off or if it was just the rope dislodging it but a bunch of microwave sized blocks started bouncing down above me.  There was nowhere to run without pulling my partner off so I found a tiny little depression close by to press into and pull my pack up to protect my neck.  Miraculously the rocks missed me and didn't chop the rope anywhere that we could detect it.  I think it shook up my partner more than me, I remember him shouting my name like he wasn't expecting me to still be there with him. We did complete the Traverse quickly enough to get BBQ in Marblemount that evening.  So I got that going for me.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

56 minutes ago, Bronco said:

We did complete the Traverse quickly enough to get BBQ in Marblemount that evening.

That is moving!!!  Well done, surviving and zipping through the traverse so quickly.  Rockfall is pretty terrifying.  For me, second only to lightning.  At least with rockfall you feel like you can do something to mitigate.  Caught up high in an electrical storm just feels like hopelessness wrapped in doom.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, JasonG said:

That is moving!!!  Well done, surviving and zipping through the traverse so quickly.

As you are painfully aware, I don't tend to set the pace. It was my much faster partner who was running an ultra marathon a few days later and was super dialed with his climbing kit/fuel/rack. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

New Job!???    Is the endless vacation over?    This was a very, very good alpine route.  And the ease with which the intimidating approach unfolded around the backside was a joy.   Glad to have been there before it becomes another crowded classic.

Edited by dberdinka
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I always thought the N Ridge of Torment would be the proper start for the TFT, and that Torment Basin approach is pretty cool, did it a couple times back in the early 80's and quite liked it. We did try to start the S Ridge from that side and wound up who knows where, probably my hardest lead in the alpine wearing mountain boots! We bailed down what must be the SW Face? We saw rap slings out that way and were happy to retreat after a couple of really tough pitches and time wasted. I gather that side has totally fallen out of favor these days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Off_White said:

I always thought the N Ridge of Torment would be the proper start for the TFT,

You are EXACTLY right  @Off_White.  We talked of this. What a much cooler way to do it, though a bit longer.  And you are also right that it has fallen out of favor to approach Torment that way.  Though we did run into some guys this past summer who had gone in right ahead of us.  Even the rangers I've talked with have never been up Torment Basin, including Kevork.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...