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On Sunday 8/24/03, Toby Young and I met to drive up to Sharkfin Tower in Boston Basin. We got to the trailhead about 8:30 and were off to slay a small dragon at 8:40. The trailhead is at 3200' and the summit of Sharkfin is 8104'. The short 5.0 rock climb starts at about 8080', so we were looking at climbing about 4900' of forest and then open slabs to get to an easy 2 & 1/2 pitch climb. Why bother? you might well ask. The reasons are simple. Boston Basin is a fabulous place surrounded by beautiful peaks. The higher you go, the more peaks are visible. In the basin itself, there is heather on one side and a vast expanse of glacier polished slabs on the other. Streams of water cascade over these slabs offering a cool drink to anyone passing through in August. The slabs clearly show the scouring, grinding action of the glaciers of the past. Looking up one can see the remnants of those glaciers, shrunken but clinging tenaciously to the steep slopes of Forbidden, Torment, Boston, and Sahale Peaks.|
There is very little snow in the basin now and the snow couloir that leads up the start of the west ridge of Forbidden has a large gap. Sharkfin Tower is a high point on the long eastern ridge that connects Forbidden to Boston Peak. The tower resembles a sharkfin. We made our way up the western edge of the Quien Sabe Glacier to gain that ridge. The normal approach to the tower is to get high on the Quien Sabe Glacier on the west side and traverse the glacier to a point just below the tower. We were looking for a snow-filled couloir that leads up to the start of the climb, but couldn't see it. We did see a gully leading up from the western edge of the Quien Sabe Glacier. I knew this gully from a previous climb of Forbidden. On that climb I had dubbed this the 'Gully O Death' . I may have overdramitized the gully due to having spent an unplanned bivouac above it on a descent from Forbidden.
However, if you climb Sharkfin, follow the route description. The couloir described in Nelson is a good route with or without snow. The gully we took is full of loose dirt and scree. It goes, but nobody has any fun climbing up and there is much cursing and gluteal clenching when descending. Once we got to the top of the gully we traversed east above cliffs to the col where the rock climb begins. We met another party from Portland who was confused about where the climb started. After showing them, they started ahead of us and we roped up and followed. The climbing is easy and when you get up on the climb, all of the peaks and glaciers on the north side of Forbidden come into clear view. The Boston Glacier, Mt Buckner, Logan all are plainly visible. Looking back to the south, Johannesburg and the peaks of the Ptarmigan traverse are all there.
The summit offers views in all directions. We took it all in, savoring the fine weather and headed back down. We had dropped a pack back toward the unpleasant gully so we returned to get the pack and descended the gully.
After spending 5 hours getting to the base of the climb, we were able to get back down to the car in about 2.5 hours. Night is falling a bit earlier now and we were happy to get to the car just before needing headlamps. We managed to complete it in 11 hours and 50 minutes. If there is more snow in the basin, the approach will take less time.
This is the second time I have climbed Sharkfin Tower and I may climb it again just cuz it is so much fun.