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JDT

[TR] Torment-Forbidden-Sharkfin-Boston-Sahale Traverse - 9/12/2014

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Trip: Torment-Forbidden-Sharkfin-Boston-Sahale Traverse -

 

Date: 9/12/2014

 

Trip Report:

Summary: Brenden and I climbed the Torment to Forbidden Traverse (TFT), adding on Sharkfin, Boston, and Sahale over a three day weekend. It was a great tour of an incredible area: very doable and highly recommended! Snow conditions are icy this late in the season, and moats/bergshrunds created time consuming obstacles. On the TFT, we bypassed the snow traverse (hard snow/ice now) and climbed on the ridge crest. This yielded some of the best and most exposed climbing on the whole traverse. Really, why traverse the snow when the goods are on the crest? And yes, Boston is "a low grade pile of ore".

 

Details:

Day 1:

On Friday, Brenden and I left at the ripe hour of 500 AM from Seattle so that we could arrive at the Marblemount ranger station just as they opened, hoping to beat possible crowds aiming for permits to Boston Basin and Sahale. After waiting through the usual line and chit-chat (I'm thinking there should be a "frequent flier" lane to speed things up), we got our permits and arrived at the trailhead at 830 AM.

 

After hiking up to the Boston Basin campsites, we traversed over to Torment Basin and up the Taboo Glacier. Our chosen route up Torment was the South Ridge. Alternatively, you can climb the SE face, which is described as 4th class in Beckey, but moat issues caused by glacial recession can make this quite tricky and dangerous. Regardless, we saw a set of tracks headed towards the SE face. I'd like to know how that went... Two long simul pitches on the western side of the ridge brought us to a high notch in the south ridge, where we dropped down about 50' (can rap) and traversed along a broad, grassy ledge on the SE face of Torment. Here, we dropped our packs and tagged Torment. Summit number one!

 

Heading up to the Taboo Glacier

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Starting on the south ridge

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One down, four to go

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Summit views didn't suck

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We then descended and headed along the wide ledge to the TFT proper. Things start off with a spectacular overhanging rappel onto the north side of the ridge. When I had climbed the TFT previously, this section of the traverse had been easy, we just rappelled onto the snow and traversed over. This time, we encountered gapping moats and a large bergschrund. In all, the late season glacier conditions probably took us an extra hour to navigate.

 

Overhanging rappel off the north side of the ridge

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Moat shenanigans

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After getting off the snow, we started simulclimbing on rock and were soon at the start of the snow traverse section. We decided to bypass the snow by staying on the ridge crest, on account of the hard snow conditions. At the start of the snow traverse, go up the ridge crest about 50' to a rappel station on the right side of the ridge. Rap down about 50' into a loose gully, and climb up into a notch. Here, we went up superb rock on the left side of the crest, and continued up and over a knife edged ridge. The exposure here was surreal and the rock was great. In all, I think the bypass route is a much better option than the snow traverse. At this point, it was getting late. We quickly simulclimbed until we found a good bivy site.

 

The snow traverse section. Looks like a big avy happened at some point.

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Heading up great rock on the bypass

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Some exposure on the bypass

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Day 2:

Next morning, we ambled along the now easy, but always scenic, ridge crest, dropping down to the north side occasionally for easier climbing. Upon reaching the west ridge, we blasted up in two simul pitches to the summit. Climbing on the solid WR rock is such a pleasure after the relative looseness of the traverse! After enjoying the summit for a bit (by the way, the summit register container was missing its cap, so it's exposed to the elements and showed signs of being chewed on by hungry snaffles), we went down the NE ledges. On previous trips, I've always found the NE ledges to be unpleasant. This time, I was determined to find the best way, and guess what, if you really focus on finding the easiest way, the NE ledges is actually a pretty sweet descent.

 

Why, good morning Mr. J-berg

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The nights are getting cold now, the mornings too

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Easy street on the ridge

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"That" Forbidden summit photo

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Never gets old, does it?

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A snaffle ate my name off, but nice to see our entry from last year

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We then descended down to the Boston campsites and contemplated how nice it would be to just camp and stare at J-berg. I always feel that way in Boston Basin. But, no rest for the weary! Up we went to Sharkfin. I've had a macabre fascination with the Sharkfin approach gully, having heard about the Mountaineers accident in 2005. Yes, the approach gully is loose, but no more than anything else is in the Cascades. We climbed up the SE ridge of Sharkfin, staying right on the crest. What a purely enjoyable climb! At the summit, we noticed the sun doing its setting thing again, so we quickly descended to the Quien Sabe Glacier and hoofed it up to the Boston-Sahale col. There we found spectacular bivy sites for the night.

 

Fast forward to Sharkfin...and done. Looking forward to Boston and Sahale tomorrow.

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Day 3:

Why climb Boston? Because it's there, and it's big, but certainly not for the aesthetic qualities of the rock. We awoke early and headed over, with some fear and trembling, to tackle the pile of heinousness known as Boston. We followed beta from Summitpost, which was excellent. In all, everything was quite easy, but the exposure, combined with the looseness of the rock, makes for an unnerving climb. On top of Boston, we found the best summit register: the original book placed by the Mazamas. We sat down to read through it in its entirety, which didn't take very long. Wanting to be done with Boston, we made three raps down the south ridge, making sure to back up our rappels. Each of the three anchors was surprisingly bombproof, though loose rock was everywhere. After Boston, we made the short walk to the summit of Sahale, soaked in the views for one last time, and headed down the paradise that is the Sahale Arm. We reached the car at 300 PM and were home in time for dinner. Great trip!

 

From whence we came

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Stoked on the bivy site

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Climbing Boston choss

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Sketchy 4th class moves high up

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An engaging read

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A piece of history

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Time to make like a rock and get off Boston

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Sahale makes for all five, time to go home!

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Happy hiking on the arm

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Oh, and the best part is the recovery breakfast

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I've been around some, and seen some pretty country, IMHO it's tough to find a prettier place than the Sahale Arm in the fall...

 

Thanks for posting the story and pics!

 

d

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Looks like an awesome trip! I think we saw you descending the east ledges of Forbidden on Saturday.

 

Note: I put a pencil in summit register on Forbidden and wrapped a sandwich bag over the top with a rubber band but it won't last long. If anyone is planning to head up there soon it still needs a 1.5" (I think) non-threaded PVC cap.

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Two comments and a question.

 

First, exceptional job -- great climbing, great photos, great trip report!

 

Second, I believe that on Day 2 you climbed the Quien Sabe Glacier, not the Sahale Glacier.

 

Question: When you say you picked out the easiest / best route on the East Ledges, I'd love to hear more. I have done it 3 times, 3 different ways, and had very different experiences each time, ranging from mellow to horrific. Please share any details you remember that might help others, or at least me, next time!

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You're right, it was the Quien Sabe that we went up, not that Sahale. Changed accordingly.

 

As for the NE ledges descent, I'd done the ledges two times previously. The first time, we only made 4 raps (yeah, we lost count...dumb). What followed was a gut wrenching traverse on steep, loose, 5th class rock. Good times. The second time I figured everything would be OK if I just made the right number of raps (five); however, we still ended up in sketchy terrain and my wife was less than happy. I think we screwed up by going too low at first, but my memory is hazy. Regarding this last time, it's hard to describe exactly what we did because all the ledges kinda look the same. First, on the 5th rap, we went to the very ends of the rope (we had a 60 m). From there, traverse over and slightly down to a small rib (skiers right), beyond which are a series of small, dirty ledges. The rib had a established rap station on it (not sure what it was for) and we traversed about 10' below this rap station. Note: after the raps, it looks tempting to go straight down about 50' to a large rock ledge, but from my second experience, the climbing gets harder if you go too low at the start. I think the key is getting the start right. From the first rib, just use your nose and follow the ledge systems around ribs. In general, we traversed either straight over, or trended downwards. Very rarely did we go upwards. I was repeatedly sucked into upward trending ledges that looked nice, but the climbing would usually get harder, so I backtracked. Things became more obvious and easier the further we traversed, so a lot of careful route finding at first was worth it. Having finally done this descent right, I prefer it to the W ridge descent, which is long and tedious.

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JDT -- much appreciated -- helpful comments.

 

I have done it a few times as well and I think the choices you make at the beginning fundamentally set you up for a cruise, or a very stressful, loose traverse. In any case, you need to be willing to deal with grassy, downward-sloping ledges with huge exposure. It's never hard, but it's psychologically harder depending on the route you take. Thanks for the great report.

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The East ledges are always horrific. Nobody should go down that way, stick to the west ridge.

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I think that rock bypass on the TFT is awesome -- really a great section of the route. We actually bivied a few years back right on the start of that section (after doing the rappel into the gully, then climbing that nice corner system back to the ridge), what a place! not spacious but certainly scenic.

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Nice extension to a great weekend! I've updated the traverse page with your outstanding report.

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Sick TR and pics!!! Great job you two!

 

The ridge crest is money.

 

Wayne, what traverse page do you speak of please?

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