Mount Torment & Forbidden Peak Traverse

Climb Mount Torment, a Grade II, 5.4 rock climb, or climb it and traverse the ridge to and climb Forbidden Peak, a Grade IV, 5.6 rock climb, in the heart of the North Cascades. Expect great views and a classic northwest alpine rock climbing experience.

Getting there

Drive SR-20 to Marblemount for climb registration and trip permits at Ranger Station. From Marblemount take the Cascade River Road (Forest Road 15) for 20 miles to the Torment Basin "trail" or 21.7 miles to the Boston Basin Trailhead.


Boston Basin

The trail initially follows the old Diamond Mine Road bed for about 1 mile to where the trail leaves the road sharply right and steeply up. Follow the trail to Boston Basin high camp at about 6,200 ft. Traverse upper basin to the northwest at the 6,200 ft contour. Pass beneath the south spur of Forbidden Peak, and continue traversing toward the lower South Ridge. A couple hundred feet of scrambling gets you up to the South Col bivy sites. From here hike up and west of lower South Ridge to the western couloir leading to prominent notch and start of climb.

This approach is longer but more aesthetic than the direct Taboo Glacier approach: Traverse from Boston Basin and ascend the Taboo Glacier directly to a 7,100 ft campsite directly beneath the southeast face of Mount Torment at base of east couloir to prominent notch in South Ridge.

Torment Basin

Permits can be much easier to obtain for this approach, and you'll appreciate a bit more solitude and see more of this area of the North Cascades. The climber's path start about 1 mile past the Eldorado Creel Trailhead and 50 feet upstream of the bride across the Cascade River. It's a steep hard climb on a climber's trail that is mostly easy to follow to Torment Basin.


mount torment/south ridge

Climb starts at prominent notch in South Ridge. Do not start up either of the two prominent dihedral/gullies branching up and to right. First pitch follows open book to left. Then, turn the corner to right at top of the open book, reach a ledge, and continue up another short open book. The second pitch continues angling up and left across sloping exposed ledges beneath a steep face. In the 3rd and 4th pitches, continue climbing leftward on the Southwest Face. The goal is to reach the right leaning gully shown between the South Ridge and the summit. Do not ascend too high directly up steep rock above. The third pitch traverses ledges and around corner to right into base of gully with a large detached block belay anchor. The fourth pitch starts up short mossy gully past rusty pin, then angle up to left where route becomes cleaner and goes around another corner. The fifth pitch continues via traverse into large, easy gully with loose scree and talus (poor anchors) that leads to big notch in South Ridge. On the sixth pitch, scramble up the gully following the easiest way, slightly to the right, over very crumbly rock. Due to high danger of rock fall unroping here is not recommended. The seventh pitch start once you are up on the notch; traverse on the southeast side to the left and upwards to the next rappel station. On the eighth pitch, continue traversing left to Class 3 terrain; follow it upwards towards the leftmost summit for full rope length.

mount torment-forbidden peak traverse

Descend from the summit of Mount Torment and head north along the ridge to the base of Forbidden Peak's West Ridge. Expect some routefinding challenges, snow, glacier, and some good bivy sites with great views. Climb the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak.


mount torment/south ridge

Descend either by downclimbing and rappelling the climbing route (longer but eliminates moat problems) or via double-rope rappels down southeast Face. The condition of potentially deep moat at base of southeast face cannot be assessed on route or from the South Col/Southwwest approach. To descend via the southeast face, downclimb to the last rappel station and make 5-6 double rope rappels. The second rappel station is at climbers left. All others are either straight down or at climbers right. Before rappelling over the last cliff onto the snow, look for a rappel station on your left. On the last rappel, you need to cross the moat to reach the snow field, which can be difficult. The first person should carry a picket, ice axe and crampons to facilitate climbing out of the moat if necessary. Ascend a short but steep snowfield and a Class 4 scramble up to the notch. 

mount torment-forbidden peak traverse

Follow the Forbidden Peak/West Ridge descent.


  • Boston Basin permits frequently difficult to obtain. Consider bivying at the South Col in Torment Basin or approaching from Torment Basin itself.
  • The short approach couloir from Taboo Glacier is unaesthetic with loose rock; an approach from the southwest preferred.
  • The moat at base of Mount Torment's Southeast Face is difficult to cross in mid or late season, and can present the hardest climbing of the route if you have to climb out of it.
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Rock Climb
  • 8,815 ft
  • Land Manager: North Cascades National Park
    Stephen Mather Wilderness, Darrington Ranger District (MBSNF)
  • Parking Permit Required: None
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • USGS Cascade Pass
  • USGS Forbidden Peak
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
  • Green Trails North Cascades Ross Lake No. 16SX
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Mount Torment-Forbidden Peak Traverse
  • Torment-Forbidden Traverse
  • Mount Torment/South Ridge

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