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JasonG

[TR] Forbidden - Northwest Face 8/26/2012

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Trip: Forbidden - Northwest Face

 

Date: 8/26/2012

 

Trip Report:

When I first started climbing in the late 90's, one of my mentors used to regale me with stories of his favorite routes. As I remember it, the NW face of Forbidden was at the top of his list, and he talked up the position, rock quality, approach, and bivy as one of the all time Cascade Classics. Fast forward through the intervening years, and every single person I talked to that had climbed the route (admittedly not too many), raved about it. It was on the list!

 

And there it stayed, for years. The approach had me a bit intimidated, and there were other excellent routes on Forbidden to distract me. By about 2010, however, I had climbed several of Forbidden's routes (WR, NR, TFT, ERD) and had run out of excuses. The NW face could no longer be avoided.

 

But how to do the climb? I knew that you could either approach via the Boston, or rap in from the WR notch. Each had its advantages/disadvantages and I was on the fence. I got the kick off of it when Kurt emailed me earlier this summer excited about the carry over of the NW face that he did. He provided some excellent beta that I forwarded to Trent and a plan was hatched for the last weekend in August.

 

We arrived in Marblemount to a crowd of folks that were treating the ranger station like a travel agency (What is that like? Is there water? What would you recommend? Where is the nearest store that carries that?). Entertaining for a few minutes, but it got old after a half hour. Armed with a permit for the Boston Gl. XC zone, we evetually left and skedaddled to the BB TH. I think we were hiking by about 0930.

 

I had done the approach to the NR a few years ago so that part was familiar- up, up, up and over the alternate col just east of Sharkfin (lots of good beta out there). On the way up to the col we met Brian and his partner who were headed to the NR. They kindly paused in the gully and let us pass and show the way to the notch. A 30M rappel and some moat scrambling brings you to the Boston and the start of the long traverse to the NR notch. The Boston is still in great shape for this time of year and should be passable until the snow flies.

 

Now which notch to use? Kurt had tried to describe where he crossed the ridge and we went back and forth on the Boston trying to match up his description to what we were looking at. There are several notches to choose from! In the end, we just went up to the notch that you use for the NR (south of the prominent gendarmes on the NR) and threw our stuff down on a couple nice sites. It had taken us about 6 hours to get to the notch so we had plenty of time to melt snow, watch folks on the TFT, and get to know Brian and his partner a bit (they arrived shortly after us).

 

After a comfortable night (no snaffles!), we got rolling about 0600 and begin to figure out how to get down to the Forbidden Gl. We ended up doing 2 single raps and some scrambling to get onto the glacier. We found a couple old stations to use and backed them up. I'm guessing that Kurt used the next notch to the north where you probably don't have to rap. But, it looked like it may have been harder than 3rd class to reach it??

 

Regardless, from the glacier it only takes about an hour (easy traveling) to get to the base of the rib. This is where things got interesting. The glacier near the toe is very broken and we had a hard time finding a reasonable way onto the rock. The ramp higher up looked like the best (there are two ramps that come in from the west side), but it was blocked by a full spanning crevasse. As it was, we ending up rapping off a bollard into a shattered mess of seracs and scrambling like hell to get onto the rib as quickly as possible. Good times!

 

And Darin soloed this!!?? Impressive.

 

Anyway, once we got on the rib proper, the fun began. Everything that you have heard about the route is true- great climbing, solid rock, amazing position- this route has it all. It is mostly low fifth with a few harder moves and we were able to comfortably simul with rock shoes and full packs (and I am not a good climber). I think we only belayed one short pitch (the chimney Beckey describes), and it took us about 5 hours to reach the summit from the glacier. We had the summit all to ourselves and could admire one of my favorite views for a good while. I doesn't get much better than that!

 

We rapped down the East ledges descent and scrambled over the the notch at the start of the ERD. While fast, this was a bit less secure than I had remembered from the last few times I had done it (must be getting old). You certainly wouldn't want to slip. Five raps before traversing is just about right, but you should feel comfortable on loose 3rd and 4th class rock with big exposure (i.e. not for the faint of heart). We were back in BB about 2.5 hours from the summit, and at the cars around 13 hours from the bivy.

 

I think of the routes I've climbed in NCNP, this is certainly one of the best and most satisfying. Like the TFT, it demands a wide range of skills, yet none at a level above that of the motivated weekend warrior. But while the NW face of Forbidden is a classic, it will probably will never see a lot of traffic due to the high price of admission.

 

But...... maybe you are already putting it on your list?

 

Pics:

 

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Scrambling to the col to access the Boston. Team NR ahead of us.

 

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Trent on the Boston, with Logan and Buckner behind.

 

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Team NR on the Boston. That's some glacier!

 

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Trent @ the NR notch bivy.

 

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The Torment-Forbidden ridgeline from the bivy

 

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Torment

 

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Sunset.

 

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Sunrise

 

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Trent in the first moat of the day below the bivy notch.

 

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Eldorado from the base of the route.

 

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Bollards= Good times!

 

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Ummmmmmmmm. We have to go this way??

 

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Yes, it is as good as it looks.

 

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Looking down the NW face from about halfway up.

 

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On the summit!

 

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Looking back along the TFT

 

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Trent finishing up the East Ledges descent. Kloke terrain if I ever saw it.

 

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Lest I get cocky, looking at J'Berg always takes me down a couple notches.

 

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There are few views as nice as evening light gracing the Cascade river valley.

 

Gear Notes:

Half rope, Al. Crampons, single axe (second tool would have been nice in late season), medium rack to 2". Energy.

 

Approach Notes:

There is probably a better way.

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Thanks for putting it all together Jason. Definitely one of the more satisfying routes that I have done.

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Great trip report, looks like an awesome climb! I was up there with Brian, it was nice to run into you guys. Also thanks for the beta, especially regarding the descent route! I'll put up a trip report for the N ridge after the weekend.

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I'm glad you don't hate us after telling you about the East ledges descent. You were able to figure that out without too much hassle?

 

And be sure to shoot me a PM. I have photos of you and Brian on the NR!

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Here is a photo that shows the route pretty well. We got on the prominent rib near the bottom, along the lower part of the long snow patch. A better point to access it was the higher ramp, but it was blocked by a crevasse this year:

 

MG_3247.jpg

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That truly is a superb route. Reminds me of Nixon's nose, the way it sweeps out at the bottom. I think I'd rather always descend the WR rather than that ER choss. Looks like from your photo looking over from the bivy that the NWF NR route needs more ice pasted on there! Fuck global warming!

 

 

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