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dave schultz

[TR] Sahale-Buckner-TFT 1-4 July 2014

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Trip: Sahale-Buckner-TFT


Date: 1-4 July 2014


Trip Report:

I move out of the PNW in a couple months and really only have one or two more weekends left, so I took some time off from work and got lucky with a great weather window and great partner to knock off two of the remaining to-dos: Buckner ski descent and TFT.


Ryan and I got our permits on July 1st (Tuesday) in Marblemount, the ranger there tells us that there is a party on the TFT today (being Tuesday), we think that is a good sign as we won’t be the first and there should be a track of at least where someone else went. We then make our way to the Cascade Pass parking lot. I would be on skis (which rock shoes in my pack) and Ryan would be on foot (no rock shoes).


We started mid-morning and made decent time to Cascade Pass and Sahale, which we didn’t expect to need to summit in order to get around to Boston Glacier. The traverse down around Boston was uneventful and we made good time getting onto the Boston Glacier. We stopped for the night below one of the rock islands on Buckner’s NF. The snow was very soft and I was unsure if I was going to still go for the ski descent the next morning.


Wednesday morning we summit Buckner just before 8am and the snow had firmed up just enough, and the upper slopes of Buckner provided a good test area for verifying stability and conditions for the ski descent. Everything went fine and I was able to ski from the summit to the lower skier’s right section of the NF, hugging skier’s right. We transitioned back to glacier travel mode, I initially booted until we reached a low point, and then once we starting climbing back up I transitioned back to skinning.


We traversed over to the Sharkfin Col where we did some pack hauling shenanigans to get up the col and down onto the other side. I transitioned to skiing for the down and right descent and then skinned to the entrance of the West Ridge Couloir where I cached my skis, skins, poles, and permit and then booted and met Ryan who was en route to Torment’s South Ridge Couloir. We started made some water and then started climbing the couloir at about 6pm on Wednesday and made it to a nice bivy ledge after about 4 or 5 pitches. We were treated with sensational views and an amazing sunset.


We rose early on Thursday in order to bite off as much of the traverse as we could that day. We bagged Torment after about 90 minutes of simul climbing and soloing. The register there was really old, and it was very cool to flip through the pages to see and recognize some of the names, unfortunately it also made it hard to logically add our names to the list. We didn’t see any other dates from 2014 on it. It was then an easy downclimb, rappel, and traverse to the rappel station off Torment onto the N Side glaciers. This is where the expected difficulties began.


We did not see a super obvious route to get across the shrund, but could see a couple options, and we confident that at least one of them would work. We also did not see any foot print or other evidence of the party that had supposedly already done the route. We ended up rappelling into, around, and finally out of a moat. Then we built a snow bollard and rappelled into and out of the final shrund onto the snow field we needed to get back onto the rock section.


We did a rising traverse on the north side of the ridge on rock back up to one of the snow fields at the ridge crest, which we crossed and then crossed some rock on the south side, back to a snow gully, back up to the crest. Here we ran into another route finding challenge. The snow was very warm and soft and we did not want to get too committed to the really warm and potentially unstable steep north side slopes, but the rock on the south side looked too hard to climb, but there was one weakness of what appeared to be climbable rock, but we couldn’t tell where it was going to go once it wrapped around the corner.


After a setting up a snow bollard belay, a descent into the moat, and stemming on the snow and rock, we were able climb the rock up and around the corner and it eventually deposited us near the top of the ridge with only about 75-100 feet of steep snow to traverse regain the ridge crest back on rock. We then moved along the ridge, and made two rappels to arrive at the south side ledge system, again avoiding some of the north facing snow and bypassing a large section of rock. We traversed low angled snow and pitched out one section of rock to regain the ridge crest around the halfway mark which I believe is the standard bivy site. We arrived pretty early and were able to enjoy setting our bivy and making dinner with lots of daylight and were asleep before it got dark. Again, no signs of previous parties on the route.


Friday was a leisurely wake up and we were off just after 6am. We made pretty fast (relative) time to the West Ridge Notch. We stashed our gear, made some water, and I traded my ski boots and crampons for rock shoes. We summated Forbidden and were back at the notch in four hours. On our descent we encountered a pair of climbers, the first people we had seen since the parking lot at Cascade Pass, they were nice enough and gave us great directions to get back out of Boston Basin – thanks. After a quick descent on skis, Ryan tooking a bit longer, we did the final shwack out on foot and was thankfull we didn’t have to deal with the Boston Basin trail on the way in – as it was super frustrating in ski boots with skis on my pack.


In total I think we pitched out and simul climbed around 25 pitches and completed around 20 rappels. I used my ski boots and crampons for the entire traverse, except for the West Ridge. Ryan used his boots for the entire circuit.


I had never been in the Boston Basin, I don't know if we had good or bad conditions. Certainly they were early season with a lot more snow than normal. Comments about what the conditions look like, for better or for worse would be good for me to hear / know and would probably be helpful for those who are aspiring to get on this route.


Gear Notes:

7 cams (2 C3, .4 – 2 C4, and a bigger metolious master cam)

about 8 nuts

2 tricams

3 pitons (only used on the Boston traverse)

about 18 total slings

TLT5s (that now look even worse) and mono point crampons

La Sportiva boots that are now retired and horizantal front point crampons


We each had a single ice screw (never needed, mine never even came out of my pack).


We left 3 or 4 biners on various rappel stations and created one station for the rappel in to / out of the moat after getting off of Torment.


Approach Notes:

We approached via Sahale Arm and exited via Boston Basin Trail (skies suck on the Boston Basin Trail).


The green line is our route. We initially tried traversing higher up, but got blocked. We downclimbed more snow and then found a better traverse across.



The green is the ski descent. Red circle is our bivy site.



Ryan hauling his pack up the Sharkfin Col. There was a snow chimney / offwidth in the way making it incredibly insecure. I followed with my skis on my pack with the comfort of a belay.



This is the view from around the 4th or 5th pitch on the South Ridge. This was our second night out.



This is the rappel from Torment onto the glaciers on the north side.



This shows the route from the rappel off of Torment. The rappels are in red (dashed is behind the snow) and the traverse across snow back to rock and climbing up and around the buttress is in green (dashed is around the backside).



The rappel from the snow bollard after rappelling in, around, and out of the moat. This placed on the snow we needed to be on to continue traversing.



This is looking back at the rappel from Torment (in red), then the rappel behind the moat (in dashed red), the snow bollard rappel (in red) and then out path on the snow (in dashed green).



This shows where our buttress traverse deposited us. We traverses the snow and I went out on the snow to continue traversing, but did not like the conditions and felt we would be safer seeking a rock alternative. We climbed up in right and then made a short rappel and then climbed back up to the higher snow saddle. We then climbed the rock up and around the corner and across the higher snow field to gain the ridge crest. The vertical red line show about where we rappelled to south side ledges. In the top left you can see a red circle – that is the saddle where we spent the third night.



This is the moat and rock corner, above and right was what looked like much harder rock, and the snow traverse was still undesirable.



This is the view from the saddle about halfway along the traverse. Our Third night.



Edited by dave schultz

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That's quite the trip in ski boots!


I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that the schrund/crevasse below the rap off Torment wasn't there in July of 2009. I seem to remember just walking over to the rock after the rap. That avi scar on the snow traverse is pretty spooky looking as well.

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Nice work! Sounds like a great outing. Never been into Boston but TFT is high on my list. Your report makes it sound more involved and adventurous than I had imagined which just makes me want to do it even more. Thanks for the stoke!

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Looks like it's still in pretty early season conditions. When we did it I don't even think we touched snow once we left the glacier. I think there's a lot of different options for ways to go though but can stay on rock a lot if you want.

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