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[TR] Forbidden Peak - NW Face 07/17/2022

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Trip: Forbidden Peak - NW Face

Trip Date: 07/17/2022

Trip Report:


@Hoo and I climbed the NW Face of Forbidden over the weekend. We had a grand alpine adventure with great conditions and we were happy we chose to take the loop overnight version for this climb. Thank you, Micah!


On Saturday morning, we got to the ranger station armed with plans A, B, and C, but happily, snagged a permit for our bivy. The forecast for Sunday had deteriorated into a 30% chance of precip at 11am so we were concerned about low vis conditions on our summit and descent day, but we decided that we'd try to get to the higher bivy at the start of the route instead of just the N Ridge notch (our original plan).

We had an invigorating uphill bike ride from the Eldo trailhead to the Boston Basin trailhead (road is still gated). Thank you Micah for loaning me your mountain bike for this! Quickly we were poking out into Boston Basin and feeling the alpine awe. The sun was shining behind light clouds and the temperature was great, the snow was soft but not overly so, and we quickly made our way up the Sharkin Col snow gully for the first approach crux in about four hours from the car. We aimed for one notch left of the notch right next to Sharkfin Tower. We scrambled up some loose 4th class to the notch but didn't see any rap stations so we scrambled down a bit and to the next one (climber's left) -- that one did have a rap station and looking down we could see two shrunds but they looked manageable. Micah led this rap and found another rap station hiding inside the shrund. I led the next one down and over/through the convexity toward the next shrund. Luckily it was still pretty filled in and we were able to easily get in and out of it and onto the mighty Boston Glacier! Note to self: change from shorts to pants earlier in the day.

I was just reading Karsten's trip report of Ptarmigan Ridge and he spoke of his slogging cortex being overly activated. The amble across the Boston Glacier was so beautiful and enjoyable. "Is this a slog? It's pretty enjoyable for being a slog..." Micah and I discussed. If this had come at the end of the trip, it would have been a slog. Loved seeing Logan, Goode, and then Buckner across the way...

Looking around at the amount of snow everywhere, we were cautiously optimistic about how we would get up to the N Ridge notch and onto the Forbidden Glacier. Identifying the notch was straightforward (to the right of the two towers; lowest point in ridge) and we were able to easily move from snow to rock and scamble up with just a short V0 boulder problem above the moat! This is all going too well!

Views from the notch were fantastic. To climber's left we found a bivy spot we'd read about and then an exposed 4th class down-scramble led us to a rap station with a LOT of tat. Micah did a good mountain deed and cut out a bunch of trash tat. We made one <30m rap onto the snow and did a short bit of downclimbing before getting onto the flat glacier. We had not come across any water trickles or streams coming off the rocks (last big drips were in the shrunds after Sharkfin Col) but we finally found a real melt-off from rocks that we passed by (with a gaping moat guarding it). Micah was up for a kinda-sketchy moat-rock stem move to fill up our water. It was nice to be water-secure again!

We walked over and decided to take the high/direct route around the base of the NW ridge toe. I think you could say we sandbagged ourselves with this routefinding choice, as we ended up climbing from steep soft snow with great feet up into AI2 territory. Luckily Micah felt confident about it and I was able to get a toprope from him (twice). Seracing above giant crevasses in aluminum crampons with just one axe, fun!

Thankfully we were able to escape onto softer steep snow and then arc back over to the snow ramp getting us onto the rock/ridge proper. Hurray! We were definitely feeling the 7200' gain, ~8 hours from the car that we'd done according to Micah's watch. We ended up in a great bivy spot just a bit lower than where we got onto the ridge, with great epic-cloud views of Moraine Lake, Klawatti Lake, the Inspiration and Klawatti Glaciers, Primus and Tricouni, and all our best friends out there... the sun never really came out but it was an amazing place to be and relax and rest.

We woke up with the brightening day but completely socked in as somewhat expected. We had seen a party at a N Ridge notch (one north of our notch) the evening before we wondered what they were up to. We definitely would not have wanted to cross the Forbidden Glacier with that kind of visibility!

After scrambling up and over the tower, we roped up and set off into the clouds for the first simuling section on the knife-edge. So, so fun. I love this kind of easy climbing on ridges! Super fun scrambley, exposed, great rock! So fun. As others have noted, there's a fixed pin right before a hard-looking section right above (I think I read that probably rockfall had hit this section and now it goes at solid 5.8) so Micah took us climber's left and down a bit; there was a nice flake for me to have some terrain protection as I downclimbed the exposed 5th class moves...

We continued onward and upward simuling and soon Micah shouted down, "I'm just going to climb through the chimney, it looks easy" (without pitching it out). And lo, it was! I was really surprised; I have found many 5.8 chimneys to be really tough for me. We agreed that it barely deserved to be called a chimney. Nothing physical, just some stemming with big hands and feet. The rock was the worst on the route here, though -- quiet, gentle climbing definitely necessary!

Above and out of the chimney, there was a tight corner that was the crux for me but I was able to top rope it cleanly (my only point of pride with my rock climbing these days)! Above that, I took the next simul section and had a blast on easy climbing on mostly great rock, trying to continue trending climber's left toward the face while also not heading into the multiple snow patches that are still up there. Started getting into harder terrain with lichen as I began running out of slings, so when Micah took over again he took us farther left and up and toward the sunshine... And soon enough we were at the summit, above the sea of clouds! I think we must have been looking at Eldo poking out?

Our original plan was to descend via the East Ledges but with all the snow, I was concerned about the 4th class ledge being snowy. We also knew that getting down from the East Ridge notch would be slow with such low visibility. We opted for the West Ridge descent, so we downclimbed the entire West Ridge route. I haven't been rock climbing much at all for the past months (and years) so a lot of this felt stressful/mentally taxing for me but soon we were at the notch.

From there, we took two rappels down the cat scratch gullies (dry) and onto the steep snow gully skiier's left. Unfortunately, on pulling the rap, our rope got wedged into a notch -- well, we hadn't really had any shenanigans, so it was about time. Happily, it just took some finesse from a different angle to get it unstuck and no ascending the rope was necessary! We downclimbed steep snow and saw that the bergshrund at the bottom was open and couldn't see an obvious way across, so we found a rap station (skiier's left, in the moat, quasi iced-over) and were able to rap across to the other side with no issues.

From there, we had a fair bit of downclimbing in soft but supportable snow. Downclimbing downclimbing... finally onto more level snow where Micah was a total show-off with his boot skiing skills. I think this is the part where I began feeling my slog cortex being taxed! But it was short-lived.

We said hey to all the fat marmots in the basin on our way out, made our way quickly down the trail, and hopped onto our bikes for an AWESOME speedy ending to a lovely trip. What a way to end things!

OK, you've really been waiting for the pics:

Woo hoo, bike approach!

Coming into Boston Basin

Micah on first rap from Sharkin Col variation

First rap from Sharkfin Col variation

Second rap from Sharkfin Col variation

From inside the second shrund

Looking back toward Sharkfin Col variation

Goddamn the Boston Glacier is so beautiful!

Moving from snow to rock right below the N Ridge notch

Taking a break before rapping down onto the Forbidden Glacier

View showing the ridge toe

On our way across the Forbidden Glacier

Awww yeahhhh! Primus and Tricouni in the back.

Thanks, Micah! O.o

Steep but great feet through this section!

This is the kinda thing that all the TRs warn about...

AI2 for a bit...

Woo hoo, almost there!


Beautiful views from our bivy....

Time to start climbing!

First section on the rock

Getting up into the sun!

Starting our descent via the West Ridge

Downclimb below the cat scratch gullies, above the shrund here

Back to plain ol' walking

Farewell, Boston Basin! Until next time...

Gear Notes:
Three-season boots, aluminum pons and axe, one half/twin 60m rope, small-ish rack and lots of slings, BIKES.

Approach Notes:
Up, over, across, up, over, across, around, up, up, up, down.

Edited by Alisse
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Beautiful!  thank you for sharing your trip with us!

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it has been a LONG time since I did this route and I got a approach question.  why did you choose to take the long approach to get to the NW arete? 

We went up to the west ridge notch (sweet bivy) and then descended/rappelled  down steep snow and 4th class to the glacier and over to the route.

My knee jerk thought is that the steep snow is gone resulting in excessive amounts of loose 4th class downclimb/rap.  how did that approach look  while you were climbing up the route?



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I think the views on the way to the NW Face are good enough to disqualify it from being a slog. Only getting to look at the snow slope you're on and volcanic moraine on the other hand...

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10 hours ago, genepires said:

it has been a LONG time since I did this route and I got a approach question.  why did you choose to take the long approach to get to the NW arete? 

We went up to the west ridge notch (sweet bivy) and then descended/rappelled  down steep snow and 4th class to the glacier and over to the route.

My knee jerk thought is that the steep snow is gone resulting in excessive amounts of loose 4th class downclimb/rap.  how did that approach look  while you were climbing up the route?

Hey, I have to admit we didn't have much discussion about the pros and cons of the two different approaches. I don't think I came across (and I think Micah said he didn't, either) one TR that described the west ridge notch route. But we weren't looking too hard, either. It seemed like the few things I saw said something akin to "you *can* do the west ridge notch, but who knows, expect the worst." Mountainproject, for example, says " Most parties seem to opt for the Sharkfin Col approach, which is longer at 6-7 hours (versus ~4), but less hazardous and requires only one rope." -- Not that it's the authority, but...

However, from our bivy, looking at the west ridge notch approach, Micah commented that it looked pretty straightforward. We could see a long ramp/gully that looked non-5th class, the rock is well-featured, and the snow was so high that it didn't seem like a whole lot of raps to get from the notch down onto snow. It would definitely be the direct route! I hope someone goes this way very soon and posts about it :)

Pics Micah took that show the notch and that approach:

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nice.  I wonder if doing it in may or early june would eliminate that schrund issue and maybe cover up more of the 4th class ground.  I seem to remember 1 rap, bunch of down climb snow and 2 or 3 twenty meter raps to glacier with no schrund.  but that was 20 years ago.  :(


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For anyone reading this: Reading about the route more, I think the crux 5.8 is the part that we skipped/bypassed by heading left off the ridge -- not the chimney. 


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Sweet! I really liked this route.  Glad you got on it (and off it) @Alisse and @Hoo!

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Great trip report!  This peak has been on my list for years.  The more beta the better.  

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Great outing and report @Alisse!!! 

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