The Torment Forbidden Traverse
The Torment Forbidden Traverse is a wild and challenging route. It involves summitting Mount Torment, wild and exposed snow and glacier travel, knife-edge rock ridges and over a mile of rocky ridge traversing before summitting Forbidden Peak by the West Ridge. While the climbing never exceeds 5.6, climbers must be comfortable on exposed terrain and move well on steep snow and rock. There is a lot of terrain to cover and climbers must maintain a fast pace to make it happen. For most of the climb, guide and climber will be moving together in a combination of short-roping and short pitches to stay protected from consequential falls.
Once climbers have traversed the Torment-Forbidden ridge, the final push is to the summit of Forbidden Peak via the West Ridge route. The West Ridge of Forbidden Peak is an outstanding alpine route in its own right and has proven its standing as one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America.
From the base of the West Ridge, beautiful, blocky granite is the only thing between you and the summit. The climbing is grippy, blocky and featured and mostly low 5th class. The crux weighs in at 5.6 but isn’t sustained for long and the exposure is as incredible as the views. The movement is fun and fluid and it makes for a great climb. Once atop Forbidden’s small summit block, climbers are rewarded with incredible views of Mount Buckner, the Boston Glacier, the Forbidden Glacier, Johannesburg Peak.
A true Cascadian approach (read: overgrown and rugged) leads climbers to Boston Basin, an iconic rock amphitheater choked with glacial ice that feeds the creeks and lush meadows below. Typically, we will camp our first night in Boston Basin. From camp, the alpine climbing possibilities fan out 180 degrees from Mount Torment to Sahale Peak. Directly above camp looms Forbidden Peak, and from the basin it’s easy to understand how the ominous peak got its name.
Mount Torment, on the far western side of Boston Basin, is connected to Forbidden Peak by a rugged granite ridge over a mile long. This ridge is the Torment-Forbidden Traverse, and the climb begins with a summit of Mount Torment. From there we rappel onto the north side of the ridgeline and find a bivy site where we can below the ridge.
Our second day of climbing is a long one. After packing up camp, we traverse snow and steep rock to the base of the West Ridge of Forbidden. It's imperative that teams move quickly in this section because there is a lot of terrain to cover, and the descent is time consuming as well. From the notch, we climb the West Ridge of Forbidden to the summit.
The descent back to Boston Basin, where the entire climb begins, requires exposed down-climbing and a number of rappels (usually around 6-8 to return to the snow in Boston Bason. Climbers must be comfortable with down-climbing and be able to rappel quickly and efficiently. Once we’re back to camp, it’s time to drop the gear, have a nice meal and get some well-earned rest!
This climb is for experienced alpine climbers who have established their movement capabilities on other alpine climbs with our guides. Due to the committing nature of the climb (there is no simple way to turn around on the route) and the need to move quickly on very exposed terrain, climbers must have established trust with their guide on a previous climb with exposure, snow and steep rock. Climbs that would be good pre-requisites would be Mount Shuksan Fisher Chimneys, The West Ridge of Forbidden Peak or the North Ridge of Mount Baker and any standard rock climb.
Participants should be proficient on steep snow and move well on low 5th class rock (5.6 or better). Climbers must be proficient with ices axes and crampons. Climbers should be able to follow 5.8 rock climbing and feel comfortable with exposure. This is a demanding climb that requires excellent endurance and fast movement on exposed rock and steep snow. Fitness and movement skills must be vetted by your guide before
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Day 1 - Gear Check and Approach to Boston Basin
Gear Check: Meet early for a gear check in Marblemont, WA. Our guides will double check that you have all the right gear for the trip and help you minimize weight, decide on the perfect layers to pack, and choose how much food and water to bring.
Approach to Boston Basin: Roughly 3-4 hours to camp with 3,000’ of elevation gain over 3 miles on a rough climber’s trail. We’ll get to camp, brush up on skills and get to bed early to rest up before our alpine start the next morning.
Day 2 - Summit Mount Torment and Bivy below the Torment-Forbidden Ridge
Day 3 - Traverse the Ridgeline from Mount Torment to Forbidden Peak, Climb Forbidden and descend to Boston Basin
This is the hardest day of the trip, requiring efficient movement on the ridgeline, up the West Ridge and the descent back to camp.
Day 3 - Return to the trailhead
After some much-earned sleep, we pack up camp and head back to the trailhead to finish the trip. The descent usually takes 2.5-3.5 hours.
❏ Climbing Helmet
❏ Headlamp - with fresh batteries
❏ Climbing harness (alpine or rock harness)
❏ Two Locking carabiners - Petzl Attache, etc
❏ Climbing boots - LaSportiva trango, Scarpa Charmoz or similar
❏ Gaiters - OR mini gaiters to keep snow out of boots
❏ Crampons (Steel crampons that are compatible with your boots)
❏ Ice Axe (55 to 65cm Axe)
❏ Trekking Poles - adjustable preferred
❏ Sun Hat
❏ Sun Glasses
❏ Warm Hat
❏ 2x Buffs or face masks (These are for warmth and wind protection and are
required for Covid-19 face coverings)
❏ Long sleeve base layer top
❏ 1 to 2 fleece weight upper layers (I'm using a Patgonia R1 and Nano Air)
❏ Puffy - Mid Weight Down/synthetic, Patagonia Fitzroy or similar
❏ Waterproof Shell Jacket with Hood - Gore-Tex (or similar) - basic, lightweight shell, NOT
❏ Gloves-TWO pair
❏ one pair light/mid weight for warm temps
❏ one mid/heavy weight for cold
❏ Socks - TWO pair. Both mid-weight wool/synthetic
❏ Underwear - wool/synthetic
❏ Sports Bra - wool/synthetic
❏ Goggles (bring to gear check, we may choose to leave at the car depending on Weather
❏ Long johns (bring to gear check, we may choose to leave at the car depending on Weather
Camping & Backpacking Gear
❏ Sleeping Bag (20F) - down preferred due to weight and pack-ability.
❏ Sleeping Pad - Inflatables are comfortable, but make sure it is insulated for sleeping on
snow! Therm-a-rest NeoAir X-Therm or X-Lite are expensive, but excellent.
❏ Compression Stuff sack for sleeping bag
❏ Backpack - 50L (or the smallest bag that fits all of your gear and your share of the group
gear). Black Diamond Speed 50 or similar work well for this.
❏ Sun Screen (SPF 30 minimum)
❏ Lip Balm (with SPF)
Food and water
❏ Two freeze dried dinner meals (or meals that can be made with just hot water):
I recommend Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai, and Mountain House Pasta Primavera, but
everyone has strong opinions on freeze dried meals. If you know you don’t like or do
well with Freeze Dried, please let me know and I will forward some
❏ Two Breakfasts:
Grits with cheese, oatmeal, cold cereal with powdered milk, bagel and cream cheese,
PB and J sandwich, mountain house freeze dried.
Bring whatever sounds appealing for a midnight breakfast.
❏ Instant Coffee (if you’re a coffee drinker, now is a bad time to kick the habit!)
❏ Decaffeinated tea for evening hot drink
❏ Cup of 1⁄2 liter Nalgene Bottle (for hot drinks). I prefer the 1⁄2 liter Nalgene so that I can
use it for water on the climb as well.
To keep things light and compact, I use the freeze dried dinner bag for my breakfast
bowl, but some people don’t like the remaining flavors. If that’s the case, bring a light
bowl (lightweight tupperware works great)
❏ Spoon - choose a long handled spoon if you’re eating freeze dried food out of the bag.
Normal spoons make it hard to reach the food and it gets messy.
❏ Snack Food - 3 days worth of snacks. I usually break this down as:
❏ Water - bring two liters capacity. I prefer using a 1⁄2 Liter Nalgene for hot drinks and a
soft/collapsible 2L Hyrdrapack Bottle) Please bring at least one hard sided water
❏ Hand Sanitizer (Bring extra due to increased use for Covid-19)
❏ Toilet Paper
❏ First Aid/blister Kit
❏ Chemical hand warmers
❏ Hydration System (Camelback, etc). Please bring an additional hard sided water bottle if
you choose to bring a hydration system.
Know Before You Go
Boston Basin, North Cascades, WA
Physical Difficulty ⚫⚫⚫⚫⚪
The Torment-Forbidden Traverse is a demanding alpine climb that requires a wide range of movement skills. Your ability and efficiency will have a major bearing on how difficult this climb feels to you. Cramponing on steep snow, steep and sometimes loose 5th class rock, rappelling and down climbing in mountain boots or approach shoes are all techniques that will be employed during the trip.
Technical Difficulty ⚫⚫⚫⚫⚪
While never getting more difficult than 5.6, the Torment-Forbidden Traverse requires efficient movement on a variety of terrain including exposed ridge rock climbing and steep, exposed snow climbing.
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