Forbidden Peak - East Ridge Direct

September 14th, 2002

It's 3 am when we finally pull into the Boston Basin trail head. Within minutes our bags are laid out in the back of the truck and we are asleep. Benji and I were back for another attempt at Forbidden in a day. Our first was a late season attempt on the West Ridge, but this time we were looking to steal a last sunny summer day on the East Ridge Direct.

Forbidden Peak's East ridge is the right-hand skyline.

The alarm woke us up at 7 am, and we were on the trail by 7:30. We really put the screws in and made it across the avalanche debris and up to the basin in an hour and 10 minutes. Up through the moraines and gullies below the glacier we went, finally getting to the base of the snow finger that leads to the East ridge's crest. We passed one party who was considering the ridge after seeing the wicked condition of the West ridge's couloir.

Benji lookin' all National Geographic in the basin.

The snow finger ran out just below the crest, and we exited onto steep 4th class rock. It looked easier to exit right onto the ridge line earlier, but we just continued to scramble up. We aimed for the prominent tower on the crest higher up and followed small foot trails through all sorts of looseness.

The towers of the East Ridge. The route climbs up and down most of them!

At the base of the prominent tower we roped up and set off along the crest of the ridge. Winding around the small towers gave me a ton of rope drag and I ran out of rope about half way up the first major gendarme. It looks like most people walk along below the crest to the base of this first gendarme and start from there. Benji came up and lead a 5.7 pitch up and beyond to the start of a wicked looking knife edge. We swapped leads and I climbed along the crest for a while until dropping down and across to the base of a small leaning tower.

Benji leads off on the tower's right hand bypass.

We hadn't brought a topo or route description, so we weren't quite sure which towers were included in the "direct". It didn't much matter, so Benji climbed across the right side of the tower, encountering a cruxy 5.7 climb back up to the ridge crest. This proved to be the most sustained bit of rock on the climb and was quite enjoyable!

The next pitch took me up a very easy tower and down the other side. At the end of the rope I wanted to keep going in a running belay. The only problem was that Benji was on the other side of the tower, and it was quite windy. With no communication, he eventually decided to climb through. I did my best to haul (with both hands) the rope along. Our running belay worked ok, and I was able to stretch the pitch up through another 5.7 section on the next big tower.

Looking back towards the "easy" tower along the ridge crest.

We weren't quite sure where we were again, but there was a notch just 80 feet away across an easy ledge system. Benji went over and setup a belay while I tried to figure out if it was the crux 5.8 tower. I thought I spied another tower, and seeing as we weren't into rapping into the notch on the other side of this tower, we bypassed the section again on easy ledges. Turned out that we flew past the last tower and after about 100 meters of running belay we were on the ridge crest below the summit.

Benji pulls through a cool roof move to reach the crest of the ridge.

One more stretched pitch of low-5th class lead us up to the summit.

Benji leading the last bit of spectacular ridge below the top.

The clear day gave us a beautiful panorama. There is a very airy feeling to Forbidden's summit, and we enjoyed the intensely rugged, glacial scene. It had taken us about 3.5 hours to climb our "direct". We could have taken more time to climb more towers, or we could have running belayed through all possible bypasses. This route is really what you make of it!

It was 3:45 when we left the summit for the East Face descent route. We definitely had the "half done" feeling as we peered down on the loose and exposed East Face.

Benji pensively considers how to descend.

We made three 25m rappells strait down to a grassy ledge. There were no more anchors, so we crossed over the rib to another station. This brought us right by a huge white crystal dike. Two more rappels brought us to lower angled ground. From here we roped up and put in one piece per ropelength as we scrambled across the 3rd/4th class terrain. We crossed a steep looking rib and found a cairn. From here we could see the notch by the initial tower, and we followed easing ledges across the wall. A short (90 ft.) scramble lead us back to our packs. The descent took just over an hour.

We zoomed down, enjoying some great foot glissades, but stopped for a short stint of bouldering in the basin. After sending the usual routes, Benji conceived a sick new route. I tried it a few times, but soon deemed it impossible in mountain boots. Then he steps up and sends it right off. Doh! We continued running down the trail and made it out to the car at exactly 7:30 pm. A perfect 12 hour day!

[Return to Home Page]