August 31, 2010
IMG Guide Justin Merle
On August 16th I met Ari and Brook in the town of Marblemount to prepare for 4 days of challenging alpine climbing. Looking at the great weather forecast, we pared down our gear to make our packs as light as possible. Our objective was to climb Mount Torment, then traverse the mile long alpine ridge to Forbidden Peak. The route involves a lot of 4th and low 5th class climbing in an awe-inspiring alpine setting. We planned to spend at least one night and possibly a second on the ridge.
After sorting out our gear we drove to the trailhead, enjoying the great views of Mount Johannesburg across the valley. The trail gave us a taste of the classic North Cascades approach. Below treeline the vegetation was abundant, and the trail was slightly overgrown—at times it felt like we were walking through a tunnel.
After spending a night in Boston Basin, we started our climb toward Torment, over glacial moraine, polished granite slabs, and finally the Taboo glacier. Our route on the South Ridge of Torment involved several hours of climbing over varied terrain: solid rock, 4th class heather, and some loose climbing. As we reached the summit of Torment, we saw the spectacular views to the north that would accompany us for the rest of the traverse—turquoise lakes in the remote Thunder River drainage, broken glaciers and icefalls, and of course, the knife-edge ridge connecting Torment to Forbidden Peak. A bit of descending brought us to an exciting rappel across a gaping bergschrund to the north side glacier, after which we decided to bivy.
We started early the following day, traversing the snow until we could regain the rock farther east. Fun, blocky, 5th class climbing took us back to the ridge crest, where we climbed for the bulk of the rest of the day, opting to take the more challenging climbing over some easier options to the south of the ridge. The climbing was exposed, fun, and physical. The weather was perfect. Rather than trying to cram it all in to the one day, we bivied again at the start of the West Ridge of Forbidden, saving this classic climb for the final day.
We woke with the dawn to a cooler and windier day—ominous lenticular clouds would build over the peaks, then disappear. The weather was still good, but we wore all our clothing to stay warm as we climbed. The climb to the summit of Forbidden was the perfect way to end—great climbing on more solid rock to the summit of one of the more sought after peaks in the Cascade Range. After a few hours of descent, we were back in lower basin where it was warmer. We were tired, but psyched to have completed the Traverse—three full days of fun and challenging climbing. Like horses to the barn we scrambled down the trail toward burgers and beer.
Thanks for a great climb guys!