"Oops, my crampons are at my parent's house in Renton!"
I had Wednesday off work so I asked Chico if he wanted to go climb something. He quickly agreed and the plan to climb the east ridge of Forbidden Peak was born. The plan was simple, I'd get off work at 6:00 pm on Tuesday and head strait home to pack up my gear. Chico would meet me at my apartment in Ballard around 8:00 pm and we'd leave as soon as possible after that.
All was going very well until we started loading gear into Chico's car. I had everything loaded and remembered that I needed to get my crampons! "They're just in my car, let me go in the garage and get them out," I told chico as he started his car. But upon looking in my car, they were no where to be found. Then it hit me, I have been house sitting for my parents while they are in Australia and the last time I climbed something I slept there the night after, leaving some of my gear. I could picture them sitting just under the fireplace... :( So I had a decision to make, either take boots and heavy crampons (didn't sound fun), or running shoes and no crampons (didn't sound as safe). I chose the running shoe option rationalizing that I'd just chop steps!
We set off from Seattle around 8:15 pm and made it to the trailhead around 11:30 pm. I'd read trip reports of people sleeping on the ground at the trailhead and having critters run all over them at night. I didn't want that so I slept on the roof of Chico's car. It was a cloudless night and never got cold at all.
bed for the night, the roof of a car
at 3:50 am the alarm on my phone went off and quickly Chico and I were awake and packing last minute things. A few minutes earlier another car had pulled up and there were two other people packing. Turns out they were going to climb the torment forbidden traverse (we saw them from the summit and I'm pretty sure they bailed at the west ridge notch, although I don't know why because it was around 1:00 pm when they were at the notch). Anyway, we left the car around 4:14 am. We weren't sure how long the trip was going to take us. All I knew was that I had to work at 8:00 the next day and wanted to sleep a little before working 9 hours. In the back of my head I assumed this trip would be an epic!
The trail up to Boston Basin was fairly eventful, except for the constant brush in our faces and the always nagging side alder trying to pull the ice axes off our packs. We made it to the basin in a little under and hour and a half. Forbidden was already looking fun!
the first good view of forbidden
Neither of us had been to Forbidden before so we lost the trail at the creek crossing and ended up going about 100' (vertical feet) up the creek before crossing it. Because of this we had to cross some slippery slabs. Chico wiped out and I watched his slid down the slabs about 20' after hitting his head fairly hard. It was a scary few seconds but he is tough as nails and we were soon on our way, Chico a bit dirtier than before.
oops, he slipped!
We found the trail and followed it up until it was all snow. We took the first gully we could find to make out way up to the small glacier. Here we filled up water and rester for a few minutes. Continuing up with some scrambling and snow, we reached the edge of the glacier and looked for the "gully" Beckey talks about in his route description. I thought it'd be more of a gully rather than a snow slope leading up to a minor scramble. Thankfully, the snow was more than soft enough for sunning shoes! Within no time at all we were in the sun an on the east ridge.
into the sun
mount buckner and the boston glacier
I led out on a fairly uneventful first pitch which I stretched out for a full 60 meters. Chico followed quickly and was soon standing on top of the first real large gendarme of the ridge!
Chico on the first big gendarme
Before this second pitch, the climbing was a bit loose, but here things became much more solid. At the top of the gendarme, the climbing began to feel like a ridge climb as the ridge narrowed and the exposure increased. I arrived at the to of the gendarme to see Chico belaying at the base of the knife edge traverse pitch! I was super excited to lead it.
Chico belaying just before the knife edge traverse
I started out on the traverse a little alarmed at how hollow the rock sounded, but the pure fun of the climbing soon took over and the rock became solid again. A little less than a year ago, Chico and I were climbing the knife edge of Dorado Needle. The memories rushed back as my fingers gripped the knife edge of rock and my feet smeared on the solid rock... what a way to spend a day! But the traverse was over far too soon and I was climbing toward a belay.
looking back after the traverse, chico is just after the knife edge part pitch
chico finishing the traverse pitch
The next pitches went very quickly and were fun climbing up and over gendarmes and across narrow sections of the ridge. We were swinging leads and it seemed that Chico got to climb all the gendarmes and I got to do all the thin ridge climbing. This was true for the crux as well. I climbed to the base of the crux pitch and set a belay for Chico's lead. He led the crux with confidence, though a little surprised to find the actual crux a move after what he thought would be the crux. The climbing on this pith was solid, protectable and slightly overhung, a thrilling pitch for sure.
chico pulling the crux
Chico set a belay shortly after the steep gendarme as the rope drag was fairly bad coming over such as bad angle. Since his pitch was so short, he led out on another pitch, this time much easier. In the middle of the pitch he called back, "check this out!" As I look up I see him hanging in the air doing a heel hook on an overhanging section.
heel hook! HAHA!
I had to laugh, only Chico would go out of his way to find something to heel hook on while in the 8th pitch of a route like this. Anyway he climbed about 40 meters then set a belay on a great exposed horn and brought me up. I took the lead and less than 30 meters later I was standing on the summit. It was just before 1:00 pm. I belayed Chico up who was surprised at how short the pitch was.
On the summit we took pictures, signed the register and then began our descent. We could see the two climbing the Torment Forbidden Traverse. Just before we started down they were at the West Ridge notch.
chico arriving near the summit
signed summit register
classic summit shot
coiling the ropes before rappelling a few times
We took the East Ledges descent since the West Ridge couloir looked like it wouldn't be as fun in running shoes without crampons. We did a few rappels down the ledges than got sick of rappelling and just put the rope away and downclimbed/traversed our way back to the notch where we started. I had heard so much about the east ledges and how sketchy they are. I found them to be quite simple and easy. We were back at the ridge in no time at all.
scrambling the east ledges
From the notch, we cruised down the slopes back to the "gully" which we downclimbed carefully (much sketchier than the east ledges in my opinion). Once we were back on snow, we did standing glissades down all the way to the trail. The trail to the creek crossings was easy, but we both were a little worried about crossing the creek during such a hot part of the day.
boston basin is beautiful
last look back at forbidden
The first creek crossing was uneventful. The second however was a bit more tense. We arrived at the creek to this...
the creek after the glaciers had been in the sun for hours
All we wanted was to get back to the car so we could drive to the nearest restaurant and eat food. But a rushing creek was blocking our way. Two other climbers were waiting in the shade on the other side of the creek contemplating crossing towards us (I think I recognized one of them from MANY trip reports I've read... in fact, I'm pretty sure he should take half the blame for me getting into climbing, his trip reports were half the literature I read in college, the other half being MVS's trip reports of course... thanks for getting me though school guys!). Anyway, we wandered up the creek a ways to find a sketch crossing that led to a steep and slippery embankment traverse and eventually to solid ground (probably the crux of the day).
It was a short 40 or so minutes and Chico and I were changing into cotton clothes at the trailhead around 5:45 pm. Turns out this trip wasn't as epic as I had imagined. Well, it was epic in the sense that we got to climb one of the most beautiful mountains and have it to ourselves in a day without any clouds or mosquitos and minimal black flies. But not epic in the 20+ hour day with no water or food in the freezing cold type of way.
Sitting in the parking lot we stared up at Johannesburg. We were both thinking the same thing, "that's next, the NE buttres, it would HAVE to be epic!"
Ice Axe (didn't actually need it)
Cams to 2'
Double Slings (I think we used a single twice)