Friday, July 3, 2009

An Ascent of Forbidden Peak

On June 27, 2009, DC Dugdale and I began a four-day trip to Boston Basin with the American Alpine Institute. This was not DC’s first trip with AAI, but it was our first trip together. Our objective was the Northwest Face of Forbidden. Neither DC nor myself had ever climbed the route before, but the route looked amazing.

The line had all the qualities of a Cascades adventure. There would be glacier travel, steep snow, and rock climbing. There was limited route beta available for the climb, and the conditions were still holding at late spring. So with the spirit of adventure we headed up to the peak.

On day one we hiked into Boston Basin. We planned to camp at the lower camp. The trail in had more blowdown than normal. Fallen trees and other avalanche debris obstructed the trail. The recent winter destruction made the trail even more arduous than usual. Even though the trail seemed tedious, we made it to camp in good time.

Boston Basin from the Standard Camp
Photo by Dawn Glanc

On day two we awoke to thick clouds. It drizzled throughout the night. We choose to chill a bit due to the weather. As the day moved along, the clouds broke and the blue sky replaced the gray clouds that blanketed us. With a mid-morning start we began to climb the mountain. Our goal for the day was to bivy at the top of the west ridge col. we headed up the couloir, moving together through the steep snow. A few easy rock pitches led us to the notch. We made our camp in a very precarious looking spot. The tent looked like it was going to fall off the mountain at any moment. However the ledge was flat and just the right size. We settled in and started to melt snow for water.

After dinner we scoped the descent into the Northwest face. Looking down from the notch into the northwest face was daunting. The snow heading down was very steep, too steep for down climbing. Little to no rock was exposed, which meant that the rock rap stations might not be available. We thought that if we went for it, after we pulled the rope from the first rap, we would be totally committed to the northwest face. After some scouting and some discussion, DC and I came to the agreement that the route was more than we were willing to commit to. The plan was then changed to climb the west ridge.

On day three we awoke to another bluebird day. It was beautiful. The temperatures were great and we were stoked to climb. The west ridge was calling to be climbed. The route was beautiful alpine ridge climbing and the views were incredible. We made it to the summit in a reasonable amount of time and we were able to enjoy it uninterrupted by others. We then down-climbed and rappelled our way back to the notch.

The striking last pitch of Forbidden
Photo by Dawn Glanc

After returning to our bivy, we packed camp and headed down the coulior. Three double rope full-length rappels and some down climbing returned us to the glacier. With fatigue filling our legs, we pushed on down the glacier back to the low camp. Over dinner that night we reflected upon a great day. We could not have asked for better weather. It was another great day in the mountains.

The final day we hiked out to the car. Going downhill made the trail a bit easier. All the downed trees still makes for slow going even when gravity is in your favor. We passed a few other climbing parties as we were descending down the trail. Each seemed as eager as we were on the opening days of the trip. We smiled and shared our newly experienced route beta with those we passed. We were psyched to climb Forbidden via the west ridge. We had a true sense of accomplishment. I am now inspired to go back later in the season to try the Northwest Face again.

- - Dawn Glanc, AAI Guide

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