Devo's Climbs

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Alpine Climb: Torment-Forbidden Traverse

Last Monday Dave and I attempted the Torment-Forbidden traverse in the North Cascades. This was my second try, my first in August of '05. We'd decided to take a leisurely approach and spread it over 3 days.

DAY ONE:

We met at the Burlington Haggen at 7am, began hiking at 10:15, entered Boston Basin at 12:30pm, and made high camp below the Taboo Glacier by 2:00 - much earlier than we had planned. Guess we could've been a tad more leisurely on our approach! ;-)


DAVE PONDERS OUR OBJECTIVE
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

BOSTON BASIN WILDFLOWERS
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

DAVE & JOHANNESBERG MOUNTAINTorment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

TABOO GLACIER & TORMENT
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

THE VIEW FROM HIGH CAMP
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

MT. FORBIDDEN
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

PANORAMIC SUNSET (click to enlarge)
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

DAY TWO:

After a long night's rest and a leisurely morning coffee we navigated the Taboo Glacier with little issue. We decided to climb Torment via the South Ridge route instead of the more direct SE face, thus bypassing any moat issues (R.I.P. Craig Luebben). On my last attempt in '05, I'd climbed via the South Ridge and remembered it being technically easy but very exposed with tricky route-finding, the result being that we took much longer than expected and bailed off Torment in the dark. I was hoping this time would be different; we had more time and hopefully would move faster.

10:45 am: The first two pitches, a short crack and solid dihedral, went swiftly and then we were on the SW face - a jumble of exposed, down-sloping, and, in places, mossy 4th and low 5th class rock.


THE DIHEDRAL, PITCH 2
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

DAVE CLIMBING OUT TO THE S.W. FACE
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09


On lead again, I did my best to continue "up and left" as the guide stated, but I had no recollection of the route from my previous ascent and began questioning my route-finding, wondering alternately if I was too high, then too low. Eventually I belayed Dave up and he led a short pitch around a corner and found the 3rd class gully we were shooting for. At 2:27 pm we crossed over the S. Ridge to the SE Face and began traversing to the notch we hoped would lead to a nice bivy on the north side of the ridge. So much for a speedy ascent of Torment. :-(


FINALLY, ONTO THE S.E. FACE
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09


The view north was stunning: Eldorado and the Klawatti ice cap in full glory.


ELDORADO/KLAWATTI ICE CAP PANORAMIC (click to enlarge)
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09


After a bit of scrambling and a rappel we were on the glacier. To the East the glacier was ice and the ridge beyond looked challenging. For a while we weren't entirely sure we were on route, but eventually decided we must be. Given the terrain in front of us and our tired states, we decided to bivy and save the ice traverse for the final day, even though we knew there would be another ice traverse beyond that too.


DAVE SCOPES OUT THE TERRAIN AHEAD
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09


So, another early bivy with a long day expected ahead - likely 12+ hours if everything went smoothly. It was a fine bivy, and as the sun went down we were treated to another wonderful sunset.


J-BERG & GLACIER PEAK
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

PREPARING TO BIVY
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

ALPENGLOW ON TORMENT
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09

DAY THREE:

We were up bright and early and began the ice traverse in earnest, Dave leading as he was the expert in that area.


THE ICE TRAVERSE
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09


One full pitch plus one short pitch brought us to the base of the rock ridge. Along the way I'd spied a reasonably solid and manageable route up the rock and - after stowing my ice tools and 'pons - up I climbed for a full 200 feet, the first 100 on good clean rock w/ good pro, the second 100 on easier but mossy rock without any real protection where I had to do some "gardening" to create hand/footholds along the way. Obviously no one had been this way recently. Gaining the ridge I understood why: our initial instincts the day before were correct - we were were off route. The glacier and ridge we thought we were climbing this morning lay below and ahead of us! When David reached the belay and sized up the scene he quickly realized the inevitable: though bailing would mean a long day, continuing to climb ahead would be much longer and potentially dangerous, so retreat was the decision. :-(


TOO FAR TO GO
Torment-Forbidden Aug 17-20 '09


We began our retreat at 12pm. All-in-all it took us 8 hrs to reverse the route, rappel the SE face of Torment, climb out of the scary moat and hike back to Boston Basin. By that time it was full on dark and we lost the trail shortly after leaving the basin. So I called Rosann and told her not to worry and spent one more night out, sleeping in heather. We found the the trail first thing in the morning and were at the car at 8am. Breakfast in Marblemount never tasted so good!

View all pics: Torment-Forbidden Traverse slideshow

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