Traversing Forbidden Peak

It rained the day after my adventure on Mt Baker with Kia, so we took advantage of the poor weather to rest and recharge.  Wednesday and Thursday looked like a second warmer clearing would be rolling through, so we repacked for an alpine rock climb and met again at Marblemount.

The hike up to Boston Basin was a little disconcerting - Tuesday's storm had blanketed the mountains in a layer of fresh snow, filling in and emphasizing every ledge and crack.  But I had seen photos from the weekend before that showed the mountain was snow free, and it was clear, sunny and warm for our approach.  So I was confident that the sun would melt away all the fresh snow, and that the warm temps still made a rock route more preferable to a snow line.  So we talked about our options and kept going.

Originally I had hoped to show Kai the Torment-Forbidden Traverse over the span of 3 days, but the poor weather forecast for Friday convinced me to change my plans:  I didn't want to be caught on the traverse in a storm.  So I opted for a traverse of Forbidden Peak instead, by climbing up the classic East Ridge and then descend the equally classic West Ridge.  If the weather looked too threatening to commit to a full day climb, we'd switch to Plan B - the South Buttress on Torment Peak, from which we could bail at any point since the descent is to rappel the route.

We woke up to blue skies with no clouds, so Plan A was happening.  But it had remained warm through the night, and I had to punch through some very evil post-holing snow to reach the ridge and the start of route.  A cold wind blowing out of the southwest kept us looking for sheltered belays on the northeast side of the ridge, and kept us in our extra jacket for much of the climb.  We dispatched the 1500' ridge route handily, and the wind started to die down as we reached the summit.

Descending the West Ridge was a matter of a lot of down-climbing, and a couple of lower/rappel scenarios, until we reached the col and the West Ridge Couloir.  Four rappels down the soft snow went without incident, but we noticed that the weather front that had been moving so slowly towards was suddenly right on top of us, and weak attempts at a drizzle was starting.  The last place I would want to be is in the West Ridge Couloir or under the Torment-Forbidden Ridge in the rain, so we put some pressure on ourselves to move faster and stomped out of the couloir and past the remnant pocket glacier, safe from any rockfall.

The weather was clearly failing as we hiked and glissaded back to camp, so rather than spending a wet night out we opted to pack up quickly and hike, following the tracks of a NOLS course that had left the day before.  This reached some mandatory bush-wacking (our uphill had ascended through the less-brushy forest until we reached snow), and it started to rain for the last hour of our hike out.

Continued rain on Friday and Saturday convinced Kai to call the trip a success, so we met for a celebratory lunch and started plotting for future adventures.  Two classic climbs ticked off in the only two weather windows of the week was well done.

Statistics:  Pro Guiding Service.  Integral Traverse of the East Ridge (III 5.8) to the West Ridge (total, IV 5.8), of Forbidden Peak (8810'), Boston Basin, North Cascades National Park.  27-28 June 2012, with Kai L.

Photos:  My camera was still suffering from condensation so every photo except for the ridge traverse and the summit images are courtesy of Kai and used with permission.  Check out his perspective of the climbs at the Mediocre Mountaineer.