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|GuideBook||Green Beckey/Nelson I|
|Weather||Blue, blue and more blue|
|Mailed to WacList||08/09/2005|
Aaron Haran and I climbed Forbidden’s West Ridge. The approach couloir was still “in” but will melt out soon. If it’s gone, you’d likely want to use one of the 4th class gulleys to the climber’s left. We descended via the East Ridge ledges. Even with lots of beta, this was a challenging way down if you haven’t done it before, but I’m not sure that descending the W. Ridge itself would be much better.
- Aluminum ‘pons (Aaron had steel – bwahaha!)
- Light Axe
- 60x9.4” rope (8.5ish would be even better)
- 9 cams to 2” (to 1” would be fine), Nuts (6-12), 4 smallest tri-cams. Could definitely use less, but I figured it’d allow us to simul-climb longer.
- About 12 single and 4 double runners, 2 webolettes
- 2 pickets – didn’t use or need
“I’M BORED STUPID AT WORK” VERSION:
I’ve cragged with Aaron after work a couple times, had a blast, and thought it’d be fun to get out together for a longer climb. We were both free last Saturday, so we started hatching plans. Aaron suggested Vesper, E. Wilman, or a day at Index – all excellent ideas. Aaron’s a strong climber – he’s a regular at the gym and has a “go-for-it” attitude. Unlike Aaron, I’m pencil-necked, but I have fewer brain cells; this enables me to think I can do things I probably shouldn’t be doing. Forbidden has been calling me for a while, and I figured the West Ridge could be the ticket for a guaranteed blue-sky day. We hemmed and hawed a bit, and ultimately went for it.
Aaron picked me up at 3am Saturday, both of us having had minimal sleep in the preceding two days. As a bonus, Aaron had a large festering sore on his leg from sliding into 3rd during a softball game earlier in the week. Not a promising start, for sure.
We arrived at the trailhead opposite the jaw-dropping NE Buttress of Johannesberg, saddled up, and started hiking a bit after 6. There were other cars in the pull-out, but no people. As it was a beautiful summer weekend, we knew it was a matter of time before we ran into other climbers, the latte stand, etc.
The hike in went smoothly. As Nelson describes in Selected I, there are a couple avalanche debris fields (tree & rocks) to cross, but the trail is easy to follow (pretty much stays level through the debris). As we came into Boston Basin the full spectacle of the area hit us - even if you’re not into climbing, the views are well worth a visit. Around high camp we passed a party that had done the E. Ridge the day before, and were planning to climb Sharkfin Tower that day. Hmmmm, still no other climbers heading up Forbidden – what’s up?
We approached around the climber’s left of the unnamed glacier. From pictures I’d been concerned about navigating crevasses, but we found them easy to bypass. Axe and ‘pons are a good idea, but pickets weren’t needed. As we neared the W. Ridge couloir it appeared that a thin finger of snow just below it had melted out. I couldn’t see the whole finger, but opted to climb the 4th class to the left to get to the base of the couloir. It looked easy, so I left my approach shoes on. As it turned out, it had one V0-minus move that would’ve been nice to have rock shoes for (and probably could have been bypassed further to the left). I got to the top of the snow finger and looked back to find that it was still doable. I kicked backed, prepared to get crampons on for the couloir, snapped some pictures, and waited for Aaron.
And waited. And waited. WTF? I called out, and heard something that sounded like an “I’m okay”. After waiting a while longer, I started to worry. I downclimbed the finger a bit and finally saw Aaron. He was sitting across the moat at the base of the 4th class section, clearly shaken. Apparently his boots had slipped on the crux move and he’d taken what could have been a disastrous tumble, stopping just short of the moat. I downclimbed the snow finger to him, and we did a quick reality check. His nerves were momentarily shot, but he was okay. He sacked up, got his crampons on, and we went up the finger. Whew! We roped up for the snow couloir, although it was mental pro since I didn’t place any pickets (the snow took steps well, and wasn’t very high angle anyhow).
Once we started simul-climbing the ridge our nerves cleared. If you like long easy rock routes, this climb is a must. It’s definitely worthy of its “classic” status; solid rock, great exposure and fun moves amidst a jaw-dropping expanse of peaks.
The climbing went fairly quickly, though we did pitch-out a couple of the higher angle steps. We reached the summit around 3 and sucked in the view. We realized that, by some freak alignment of the planets, we were the only people on Forbidden the entire day!
Though there was no one behind us, we opted to descend via the East Ridge (aka the NE ledges) route rather than back the W. Ridge. We had uberbeta on this descent route – how bad could it be? The 4&1/2 single rope raps (the second being the half rap) went well, but the scramble across was a nightmare. We did a grid search of the entire face looking for the “obvious” landmarks/cairns, burning over 90 minutes. Geez, just cross the damn face at roughly the same level after you’ve rapped, then ascend to the climbers right of the very notched gully leading to the right of a solitary gendarme. We were mentally fried by the time we reached the gendarme – scrambling on hugely exposed, often kitty-littered rock for that long is not fun.
Dropping back onto the south side went fairly quick despite a couple wrong turns and a Stallone-style moat leap gone wrong. There was still enough snow left to link up some sweet boot-skiing! We chatted briefly with a large group camped in the basin, then continued down, stopping at last for a much needed break a bit above the tree line. The sun was sinking as we relaxed, medicated our pains and soaked in the alpenglow views.
After a good long break, we finally peeled ourselves off the slab we were resting on and managed the (barely) controlled stumble back to the car, arriving a bit after 10. Somehow Aaron still had enough juice left in him for the drive home (aided by red bulls and a coffee stop in Burlington). My eyes stayed open as a formality, but I was comatose when Aaron dropped me off around 1:30 Sunday morning.
Amazing climb, perfect weather, and a great partner – can’t ask for much more!