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Mount Torment
Mountain/Rock

Mount Torment

 
Mount Torment

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.51000°N / 121.07°W

Object Title: Mount Torment

Activities: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Scrambling, Skiing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 8120 ft / 2475 m

 

Page By: Steve Larson

Created/Edited: Sep 6, 2006 / Sep 8, 2006

Object ID: 223215

Hits: 11832 

Page Score: 91.75%  - 36 Votes 

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Overview

Mount Torment is one of many spectacular glaciated peaks in the Boston Basin area of North Cascades National Park. Although it is nearly 700 feet shorter than neighboring Forbidden Peak, it is nonetheless a worthy objective in its own right. There are at least eight established routes from all sides, and many possibilities for variations and new lines on mostly decent rock. And of course, an ascent is necessary if one's objective is the classic Torment-Forbidden traverse.

The first ascent party brought nothing but a single orange to slake their thirst on a hot August day, hence the name "Torment". Of course, contemporary mountaineers would never make such a mistake, right? Whether you bring enough water or not, an ascent of Torment is an worthwhile outing with reasonable approaches from the south, and impressive position no matter which route is taken.

Getting There

Access to the main trailheads is from the Cascade River Road, which begins in the town of Marblemount on the western side of the range. Marblemount is on the Cascade Highway (Washington state route 20), about 45 miles east of Burlingham and Interstate 5, and 75 miles west of Winthrop. When approaching Marblemount from the west, the highway will make a sharp left turn in the middle of town. Instead of turning left to follow SR 20, continue straight over a steel trestle bridge on Cascade River Road. The turn off will of course be a left turn if approaching town from the east. Follow Cascade River Road to either of the two main trailheads described below. Note that Cascade River Road is narrow and winding; don't expect to go much above 35 MPH, usually slower. The first 9-10 miles is paved. The rest is graded dirt with the occasional pothole.

Torment Basin TH

Approximately 4.5 miles past Mineral Park CG (or 21 miles from Marblemount) is a bridge across the North Fork of the Cascade River. Park beyond the bridge and locate a climbers trail paralleling Torment Creek approximately 100-200 yards east of the creek. Ascend past treeline and camp wherever you please. I have not personally done this approach, so I can't offer much more detail.

Boston Basin TH

About 6 miles past Mineral Park CG (or 22.5 miles from Marblemount) locate a small parking area (i.e., a wide spot in the road) opposite Johannesburg Mountain. The trail leaves from the northwest of the parking area, and there is a small wilderness sign festooned with the usual NPS info sheets. Approximately 2.5 miles of trail and class 3 tree roots lead 2,500 feet up to the lower camp on a moraine (pit toilet, small number of camp sites, great setting). Another mile or so and thousand feet of relatively good trail lead to the upper camp (pit toilet, many more camp sites). Two hours to lower camp, three to high camp. Both are fine base camps for Torment and other peaks in Boston Basin.

Routes

The following routes are described more fully in Fred Beckey's Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 2.

Route Grade Notes
Southeast Face II Class 4 FA D. Cole, M. Hane, June 1958. Much Class 3 scrambling with impressive exposure. Moat on Taboo glacier can be problematic in late season. Good descent route back to Boston Basin (rap stations abound).
South Ridge II 5.4 FA E. Cooper, W. Sellers, July 1958. Climbing is on the west side of the ridge until a class 3 notch is reached, then traverses southeast face until it is possible to scramble up to the summit.
Southwest Face II 5.7? FA J. Schwabland, H. Stanley, August 1946. Protection may be difficult, loose rock. Difficulty depends on routefinding. Poor rappel options. Several variations have been done.
Northwest Ridge II 5.6 FA T. Miller, F. Mohling, June 1958. Stays near ridge crest for most of the route. Rock quality variable. North side easier. One rap to notch below summit.
Northwest Glacier II Class 4, 40 degree snow/ice FA J. Firey, J. Firey, A. Hovey, D. Keller, June 1961. May be done from base of glacier (crevasses), or start from northwest ridge (FA route).
North Ridge II Class 3/4 FA E. Cooper, J. Kurtz, July 1960. Good quality rock. Obvious routefinding.
Upper Northeast Face II Class 3/4 FA D. McGowan, T. Miller, July 1954. Route of second ascent of peak. Good quality rock.
East Ridge III "Class 5" FA M. Borghoff, D. Hiser, June 1961. Sketchy route info available. FA used aid to surmount an overhang.
Torment-Forbidden Traverse III Class 5, snow/ice to 50 degrees This is not a route up Torment per se, but an alpine traverse connecting the two peaks. Starts with an ascent of Torment, followed by nearly a mile of class 3-5 climbing on rock, snow, and ice, culminating in the west ridge of Forbidden Peak. This moderately difficult route involves every alpine skill. Though not hard, it is long. Many parties bivy, though a strong, fast team comfortable with easy class 5 soloing can easily do it in a day.

Red Tape

Mount Torment lies in the North Cascades National Park. Permits are required year round for overnight camping in both Boston and Torment Basin. Permits may be obtained from the ranger station in Marblemount. Boston Basin is a popular place, so permits may be difficult to obtain in the high season. There are no reservations. Permits are available on day of entry or the day before, and must be displayed openly. Each person must have a permit. Permits are specific to an area. Backcountry rangers make routine visits to popular areas. At least there is no charge.

Marblemount ranger station
7280 Ranger Station Road
Marblemount, Washington 98267
(360) 873-4500, ext. 39

When to Climb

Mount Torment may be climbed year round. The best weather is in July-September, though rain and snow may be encountered at any time of year.

The National Weather Service provides a synoptic forecast for the North Cascades area That is reasonably useful.

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