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[TR] North Cascades - Torment-Forbidden Traverse 7/21/2014

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Trip: North Cascades - Torment-Forbidden Traverse


Date: 7/21/2014


Trip Report:

I haven't seen any recent info on this route, so I'll throw out ours. There is plenty of blow by blow detail out there, the best I've seen is on Steph Abegg's site. I'll spare you the agonizing existential crisis that so many seem to go through as they're writing these things.


We left the car at noonish on day 1, planning to get as far as we could, bivy on the route, and finish it off the next day.


Getting on Torment was pretty easy, there is a moat but it's quite reasonable, especially given what you deal with on the rest of the route. We climbed the South Ridge version, which was straightforward.


The rap off the north side of Torment was only slightly problematic. We sent the first person (me) straight into the moat, which was easy to climb back out of, and then I was able to tension to rope enough to get my diminutive (although she thinks she's huge) future wife straight over the moat and onto snow. Some more moat shenanigans got us back onto the ridge crest, where we simuled to what Kearney describes as the first good bivy, which is just before the steep snow/ice traverse.


Looking at the traverse from our bivy in the morning.


As you can see in the photo, there had been recent avalanche activity. Probably during the nuclear hot spell mid-July. We weren't psyched on traversing the snow with the equipment we had (aluminum sharps, one axe each, no screws) so we followed the variation that Steph Abegg describes which stays on the rock, does one rappel to the south side of the ridge, and follows a long ledge system to a col where one can easily regain the ridge. While this helped us avoid the snow, it did take a while.


From there it's all sunshine and unicorns, except that it was raining. Fortunetly the rock dramatically improves and the route finding gets more straightforward.


We cruised across the aesthetic ridge, arriving at the West Ridge notch.



It had stopped raining just long enough to sucker us into finishing the thing off by dashing up the West Ridge. Having never climbed this "50 Classic", I felt it would be a shame to come all this way and bail down the colouir. Plus neither one of us wanted to have to do the first part of the traverse again, so up we went in rain gear.



We found a few of these "new" blue sling rap anchors on the way back down the route. I think we did 5 rappels, some down climbing, and some traversing.


The West Ridge coulior was reasonable to rappel with one 60 meter rope. The moats in there are huge and the shrund-type feature midway up is likely fully open by now.




We continued to plod along, enjoying the best weather of the day during our lovely hike out. Marblemount really needs a 24 hour food option.



Gear Notes:

Aluminums, 2 pickets, one axe each. Glad we had the pickets to protect some of the moat stuff. I wore mountain boots all the way to the notch.

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Nice TR and thanks for the conditions report. I might be going up to Forbidden this week. Would you say the West Ridge coulior is out? Thanks a ton for the beta!

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Hi Tim,


John and I descended via the WR Couloir last weekend, and while we had little difficulties going down, I think it would be difficult to ascend, as there are two large moats.



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Thanks Dan! Does anyone have info on the bypass to the couloir? If I remember right it is to the left?

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Having been up there on July 29, I can confirm that the couloir is no longer usable. We did meet two guided groups who did use it, but they were comfortable with crawling around in the moat and called it "grovelly."


We used the bypass gully just climber's left of the couloir. The best beta for the gully bypass is on SummitPost and on Steph Abegg's site. The gully isn't as bad as I thought it would be. The rock is a bit loose though, and depending on your comfort level with this kind of terrain, you may want to simul-climb it but I do know that many have scrambled this just fine.

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