Sunday, July 29, 2018

Torment-Forbidden Traverse

The Torment-Forbidden traverse negotiates a complex ridgeline of rock and snow on one of the most spectacular massifs in the Cascades. The climbing is easy, but there are enough alpine challenges to keep it interesting.

Torment (left) and Forbidden (right) from Boston Basin

Matthew and I woke up at 5am at the Cascade Pass TH and hiked up to Boston Basin. We traversed to the base of the Taboo Glacier and made a spicy moat crossing onto the S ridge of Torment. This can be avoided later in the season by crossing the S ridge of Torment at 6,600' and then gaining the S ridge from the Torment Basin side.

Matthew following the moat crossing. We crossed just below the bergschrund.

We climbed the left of two loose gullies to gain the S ridge, tempted by a fixed line. I took a nice rock to the head, cracking the back of my helmet. The right gully looks like a better option.

We soloed the S ridge of Torment and then scrambled up the SE face to the summit.

Traversing the SE Face of Torment

Forbidden from the summit of Torment
We scrambled back down Torment's SE face to a break in the ridge, then made an overhanging rappel onto the N side. I rappelled into a moat and climbed back out, chimneying between the snow and rock. Matthew followed as I held the lines so that he wouldn't have to rappel into the moat as well.

A gaping crevasse split the slope below. We climbed into the moat on the right and found a rappel sling.

Rappelling to bypass a large crevasse
Traversing the rock rib. This is the first decent bivy.
We continued traversing to the right and climbed over a well-bridged moat back onto the rock. We did a rising traverse to near the top of the rock rib and then gained a snowy col.

Approaching the steep snow traverse
The snow had been baking in the sun all day and was in great condition, so we decided to do the steep snow traverse instead of the rock bypass. It was casual in approach shoes with crampons and an ice axe.

Photo: Matthew Koppe

We transitioned to the south side of the ridge and found the halfway bivy site. It was still early in the day so we decided to continue after making some water.

Resting at an excellent bivy site halfway along the ridge
Eldorado, Klawatti, Austera, Primus, and Moraine Lake below

We stayed on the south side of the ridge on easy terrain, where I took a nice fall off of an unstable boulder. I was a bit scratched up, but thankful that I had fallen here instead of anywhere else on the ridge, where a fall would have been much more serious.

We traversed along an exposed knife-edge section of the ridge then skirted down a 4th class ledge system to the base of the West Ridge of Forbidden. In hindsight, we could have taken a more aesthetic line on the ridge crest, although this line may require a rappel.

Traversing the knife edge section. There are nice ledges on the N side.
Photo: Matthew Koppe

We found a beautiful bivy just above the col on the north side of the ridge. We rested for a while, trying to decide if the thunderstorms in the east were coming towards us or not. They didn't look too threatening, so we decided to climb the West Ridge of Forbidden.

We simuled on a doubled 6mm rappel cord, which didn't inspire much confidence. I wouldn't use this system if the climbing were any harder. Matthew led around the crux gendarme on the left without much difficulty. I led us to Forbidden's eastern summit.

Matthew on Forbidden's summit with Bucker on the left

Boston, Sahale, and the Quien Sabe Glacier
We climbed to the western summit, then downclimbed to a pitch above the crux gendarme. We made two 30m rappels, the second of which took us onto a ledge system on the north side of the ridge. We stashed the rope and soloed back to our bivy site as the sun set.

Back at the bivy as the sun sets over Eldorado
Thunderheads over Boston and Sahale illuminated by the sunset
We made some water and went to bed. The night was calm and warm; the position spectacular. 

Sunrise to the north
We woke at sunrise but spent a while enjoying the morning. All we had to do today was descend and we were in no rush to leave this spectacular place.

Eventually we scrambled down to the south and rappelled a rock rib just west of the main approach gully. After 7 rappels we made it down to the snow. We glissaded and boot skied down to the rocks and found a beautiful slab of rock to chill out on.

We sunbathed for a couple hours, admiring the ptarmigans and marmots. It's a magical fairy land up here!

Three marmots with the Triplets in the background
Mama ptarmigan
Baby ptarmigan
Our original goal was to climb Boston and Sahale after completing the Torment-Forbidden traverse, but it was hard to get stoked on the choss of Boston. We were also out of food, so we decided to descend instead.

Matthew sending a creek crossing on the descent

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