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|GuideBook||selected climbs v1|
|Mailed to WacList||09/07/2006|
Everybody climbs the west ridge of Forbidden at some point in their lives, right? This past Labor Day weekend it was finally that time for me and for Nic. We decided on a Sunday-Monday trip. Got to the Marblemount ranger station early to find that there were plenty of permits available. After a leisurely breakfast at The Eatery, we hit the trailhead (mile 22.4 -- not sure why nelson/potterfield guide says 21.7). Little known fact: Nate's west ridge trip report is the #1 Google result for "west ridge of forbidden."|
Snow conditions were meager. Two weeks previous there was still a thin finger of snow in the couloir up to the west ridge, but now it was gone. The ranger at the station and climbers coming down at the trailhead all said to climb the gully to the left of the start of the couloir. That was everybody's mantra: Just go left.
Reached the upper camp at 2:00, which left about five hours for waiting for dinner. There was one other tent, which was the only sign of people we'd seen since the trailhead. Wasn't Boston Basin supposed to be one of those 10% areas of the Cascades that get 90% of the traffic? We spotted two climbers coming down from below the little buttress at the start of the couloir. They zig-zagged down the slab granite and bits of the unnamed glacier for about an hour before reaching the upper camp. They had tried the couloir, found sheer, unclimbable walls, and turned around.
"Supposedly there's a gully to the left that goes," Nic said.
"Yeah, we saw some webbing, but it looked like fifth class stuff up there," one of them replied. "We decided to just turn around."
I was tempted to point out that the west ridge had some fifth class climbing on it, as well, but thought better of it.
The two of them headed out. We had assumed they were our neighbors, but no, they just hiked away. I guess they'd been trying to climb it in a day, but weren't big fans of the alpine start.
Five hours later, the climbing ranger showed up to check our permit. He'd climbed the west ridge the day before and had plenty of beta. "The first gully to the left of the couloir is where you want to go. It's the rappel gully. You can see some red webbing from below. It starts with some 4th class scrambling and then when you're in the gully you get some 5.6 or 5.8 moves on downsloping holds. Above that it's low fifth to the ridge. You don't want to go into the couloir at all." We nodded at everything he said while staring at the holstered gun on his hip. Since when did rangers start carrying guns?
He asked if the two women climbers had come down yet. We said no, but we were keeping an eye out. The ranger then started the hike back out. After it got dark, we spotted headlamps in the rappel gully.
Next morning we started up around 5-5:30. Crampons were useful. The bits of snow were soft enough but the bare ice wasn't. We went up the left side of the little buttress and rocks started whizzing down on us as we were negotiating the transition from the snow to the rock. A small rock ricocheted off the snow a few feet from me. A head-sized rock smashed down much further away, thankfully. We assumed the two other climbers had ended up bivvying as we hastily clipped on our helmets.
Up on the flat top of the small buttress, out of the way of the rockfall, we waited for the other climbers to come down. They had done one rappel in the dark, couldn't find the next set of rappel anchors, and ended up bivvying in the gully. While we all fiddled around with gear, a few minutes of sporadic rain spattered down, which didn't exactly boost our spirits. Eventually it stopped.
It might be 4th class scrambling to the bottom rappel station if you go left and then straight up the start of the gully, but if you go up just to the right and then traverse left to the anchors it's definitely fifth. Probably best to just belay from the flat area. The climbing to the next rappel station isn't too bad, 5.6ish, but there's enough loose rock to make it not great. After that it's easy but loose, and we simul'ed up to the ridge.
The west ridge was great, but we spent a little too much time deviating to the left -- "just go left" had been etched too deeply into our brains, I guess. The sun came out about midway up, and we summited around 12:30.
We descended the route, which ended up taking about as long to get down as it did to get up. Eventually had to pull out our headlamps, and when we thought we still had ten minutes left to cross a bunch of streams to get back to the upper camp area our tent suddenly appeared in front of us. Very convenient.
We decided to spend another night rather than hike out in the dark and try and stay awake during the drive back to Seattle. The next morning, we got back to the trailhead 47 hours after we'd started, so technically it was a two day trip.
Rack: set of stoppers, a couple larger hexes (only used a few times), set of cams to #2, 15 slings.
Nic's pics are online at http://www.pottier.com/gallery/gallery.php?gid=119 and include several shots of me. All the pictures of Nic are on my camera, but I haven't yet uploaded them anywhere.