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[TR] Mount Torment - South Ridge ascent / SE Face descent 8/6/2011

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Trip: Mount Torment - South Ridge ascent / SE Face descent


Date: 8/6/2011


Trip Report:

Here is another trip report from your friendly BOEALPS’ers. Josh, Ryan, and I climbed the South Ridge of Torment this past weekend, August 6-7 2011. We got permits quite easily for Torment Basin (we were the only ones camped there). We decided that we’d approach via Boston Basin th given i) the navigational issues we had heard re: the Torment Basin th and ii) starting 1300’ higher.


We left cars at 2PM, got into lower Boston Basin at 4PM, upper Boston Basin at 5PM, and camp at 6PM. We hit snow in Boston Basin (5600’ or so) and had almost all snow the whole trot to camp. Flowing water all over the place to drink from.


Boston Basin



Mount Torment






We decided we’d be up and moving around 4:30AM or so on Sunday, but we awoke to the typical white-out the area is known for. We snoozed for a couple hours and ultimately left camp at 7:15AM. The hidden gully was easy to find and took about an hour to get to.


Josh and Ryan approaching hidden gully



Bottom half was snow, then a small moat that was collapsing, then class 4 rock. We belayed Josh with a picket, he placed a piece, got to the top of the notch, and then belayed Ryan and me up.


Josh on lead



Following this, the 20’ descent folks speak of was unnecessary since there was still snow on the backside. Josh kicked steps to a rap station and belayed us in. We changed to rock shoes. The chimney on the right and dihedral on the left were quite obvious. I took the lead up the dihedral with twin ropes largely because Josh and Ryan hadn’t climbed with twins before and more importantly belayed with them w/ an ATC Guide or Reverso. The dihedral was easier than it looked - low 5th class and blocky, but hard to protect down low.


Dihedral on the left (can't see chimney in this pic)



I passed one rap station and got to a second, below a headwall, and set up a belay with my ATC Guide. Ryan started, followed by Josh 30 feet after. You are not actually on the ridge at this point – actually to the left of it. Frankly, you are never quit on the ridge.


The terrain looked mellower now so we got back on one rope and simul. Ryan took the lead.


Class 4 terrain



We had some route-finding issues/questions at this point. We rounded a corner and he kept heading up. The question was whether we should have continued across to a “dirty gully” which was quite large continued on our route. Some descriptions mention a dirty gully but we were along to the right side of it. Entering it would require a 100 foot rap. We decided to continue on our route. Ryan got to a cruxxy section -- about 30 feet of mid-5th. He belayed us in so he could get a fixed belay. Got to the top and a rap station. He continued up, passing another rap station.


I then took the lead. I headed up and left, and eventually our ledge system met up with the gully. I took this to the 2nd notch which now provides you views back towards Taboo Glacier. From this point, it’s really only class 3, but feels more due to exposure. We simuled up, then traversed below the summit (maybe 100’ vert below it at this point), then scramble up to it. Amazing views and weather. Given route finding issues, some fixed belays, and other logistics, we didn’t summit until 2PM.


Off the summit at 2:30PM. We had planned on descending the SE Face which is supposed to be class 3 and class 4 with the exception of the lower part, which requires some raps. I encouraged the team to downclimb as much as possible in simul-mode, setting pieces, because raps take forever. Josh led. It was moving along ok, with a couple cruxxier spots, until we veered too far skiers left. The terrain became more slabby and “chute’y.” It was closer to class 4. When I read class 3/4, I assumed Fischer Chimneys which is fairly easy imo, but it was harder than that. Josh saw a rap station and worked his way down to it. Ryan and I followed. We set up a single rope rap and this got us within 20 feet of the next station. I was belayed down to that, then I belayed Josh and Ryan in. We now had to rappel into the abyss, so decided on double rope rap. I went first. Double rope rap was nice since there was no intermediary rap station and needed both ropes to get to the last rap station, 50’ above the moat. There appeared to be spots to set an intermediary rap if you only have one rope.


We changed into our climbing boots and got ice axe handy. I took lead on the next rap. The terrain was such that it wanted to pull you a bit too far skiers right into the moat and away from what was the best exit. I set a directional cam. I got into the moat and did some funky distortion to get on the snow. Josh jokingly taunted “just go for it” and I jokingly told him to screw off and said I’d enjoy laughing when he got down into it. I set a picket up high as a directional for the team, and rapped down some more. I set another picket and fixed the rope to it to help prevent the followers from a pendulum. Josh followed and when he got into the moat, realized the awkwardness involved. I chuckled a bit and took some pics.


Josh on rappel



Ryan then rappelled, but since he had to pull the directional cam, he got too far skiers right making the exit onto the snow challenging. Josh kicked steps up the snow and threw a cordellette his way, and then effectively helped pull Ryan towards the edge of the moat as I spotted with a fireman’s belay. Yes, very awkward.


Ryan trying to exit moat



It was now 8:10PM – ~6 hours since summit. Time must have flown by. The descent was not hard but not trivial. We plunge stepped/ran 1000’ vert to camp in 15 min. Packed up and on the go at 9PM. Saw some headlamps on the lower part of the W. Ridge Forbidden couloir and some more on the Quien Sabe. We had some issues finding the trail out, but ultimately did. Back at cars at midnight. McDonalds in Burlington at 2AM. Seattle at 3:30AM.


JBerg at night



Fun climb, not incredibly technically challenging in any one arena, but presents many great alpinism challenges combined into one climb – route-finding, a glacier crossing, fixed belay climbing, simul climbing, downclimbing, rappelling, a fun moat problem, and singing to ward off bears. Great times.





Gear Notes:

2 60 meter twin ropes

2 pickets

rock rack

rock shoes - not "necessary" but I really recommend them

Sour Patch Watermelons

Hammer Sustained Energy powder (first time trying it -- it's great)


Approach Notes:

Boston Basin was all snow

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Thanks for the detailed report! I am planning to do the Torment Forbidden Traverse with my sister who is visiting from Baltimore next week. We are hoping to not waste too much time getting up and over Torment, I bet that your description here with route pics will help us out quite a bit. I was already leaning towards the S ridge over the SE face because of the moat issues that seem to be common and time consuming on the SE face. Do you think that the collapsing moat at the entrance to the hidden gully will be an obstacle a week from now, or is that fairly straight forward?

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Hi Val,


I'd def recommend the S. Ridge over the SE Face. It should be lots less time for you and your sister than it took us. Managing the 2 ropes took time, and we had some other issues. Re: the moat in the gully, it is no issue at all. It's minimal and actually the gully turns more to rock later anyhow. You won't have a problem.


BTW, you should really read this description on the Torment-Forbidden Traverse. Awesome pics. I'd recommend printing them out.




If you want more beta on Torment, let me know and I'll shoot off my phone # to you and we can chat.



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Nice report. I did this route with Dan Smith and my (now) wife Summer back in...2000? when we were trying Torment Forbidden (who can remember?) and it went down pretty much as you describe, however we also took quite a long time on the route and ended up bivying on the face before rapping off in the morning. It was a fun adventure. I'd recommend anyone doing this route to get a real early start as the thing is bigger and more complicated than anyone makes it sound, and while the climbing is never hard, it's a full day.


PS: there is a really good established rap station on top of the very large block you can see to the right of Josh in the picture of Josh rapping to the moat.



Edited by Alex

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We tried the Torment Forbidden Traverse two weeks ago, and got stormed off the ridge on day 2.


S. ridge of Torment took longer than we expected too. In retrospect, we belayed too much of the ridge. Once you clear that dihedral, it's time to put the mountain boots back on and start simul climbing if you want to get moving towards Forbidden. The 5.4 chimney thing a few ropelengths up is the only piece of 5th class climbing you will encounter if you keep to the line of least resistance.


Beckey mentions putting the rope away once you gain the SE face. As Cameljockey indicates, yeah, good luck with that. It's 3rd/4th but it's also a mess of choss. In the downward direction it's a different story for T-F-Ters, 2 30m raps and a smidgen of downclimbing brought us to the solid ledge that leads quickly to the E. ridge col and the rest of the traverse.

Edited by Raoul Duke

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