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Intermediate Alpine Climb - Forbidden Peak/West Ridge

Turned around on Forbidden Peak due to route congestion

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Snow all the way up to the top of the coulior and continuing up into the 4th class gulley and above. The Airy Step is just a big flat area of snow, good place to stash gear right now.  Bits of snow on the first pitch, changed to rock shoes after 1st pitch.   Didn't get further than that due to route congestion. 

Turned around attempt on Forbidden.

So we finally after 3 years of getting weathered out of our Forbidden attempts got a permit and had a perfect weather window of warm temps, sun and light breeze on an early season weekend.

Got up into Boston Basin early around noon on Saturday with just one party of 4 ahead of us who looked to be a pretty dialed group, figured they would wind up taking the lead the next day.  Watched them attempt to go to the notch and weren’t sure if they made it or not.  Last we saw they were just above the big rock as we setup camp.

Got camp setup just before the predicted 30% rain/slight chance of thunder did turn into a few hours of moderate rain and some thunder claps. We hunkered down till early evening. 

By then another party of 2 had showed up, and towards the end of the day a party of 3.

We had already discussed our ~4am start time with the party of 4 we thought were going to the notch so we could stagger times and not be starting at the same time.  So we upped our time a half hour because of the other party and started at 3:30am. 

Turns out the party of 4 only made it about 50ft up the couloir the day before and had retreated due to the storm.  So we wound up having to break trail about 350 feet up the couloir on a fresh slide that had been rained on for hours and had firmed up making for not so easy going. 

With the couloir deep still in snow the snow actually went higher than usual. With none of us in the first 3 parties having been there before it wasn’t clear at first where the “couloir peters out” and you go left. The snow kept going up on all sides.  We kept going straight up the snow till it stopped and followed the party of 2 who said their gps track showed that was the way.  We sent one person up after them to look and decided it wasn’t the right way. The party of 2 decided to forge ahead and wound up actually trying to climb the steep wet mossy gully that meets up with what we found out later was the Airy Step.  Luckily we decided quickly to backtrack and go up the left side of the snow. 

The party of 3 decided to try that way while we tried the other. So they finally got to break some trail for the last 50feet up the steeper snow.  And that put them in the lead.  Fair enough, we figured we would just be trailing along behind them.  Now we went from 1st in line to last on the route. 

We were just coming out of the 4th class gully early to meet up with a boot path from the Cat Scratch gully where the team of 4 from yesterday had just topped out on  and another party of 2 fast climbers had showed up.   So by now there were 15 people from 2 different paths on the route all hitting the start of the climb about the same time. With the Seattle group having gotten setup first.   Later we found out the party of 4 passed them at the start.   And I believe the fast party of 2 as well had gotten ahead.   The other party of 2 that tried scrambling the Airy Step gully wound up bailing off that and leaving.

So, by now we were gearing up at the snow-covered area next to the Airy Step looking up the party of 3 were still sitting at the first belay station.  So, we took our time waiting for that to clear.  And that’s where things slowed to a glacial pace. 

As we waited at the first belay station the party of 4 started outpacing the party of 3 by a pitch. Finally the last person cleared off and I started climbing behind and got to an intermediate sling in a spot just big enough to stop and changed from boots to rock shoes as the snow seemed to be clearing from the route about there.

The party of 3 wasn’t moving, after bringing in my 2nd and our 2nd team showing up we finally asked them when they were going to start moving.  By now the party of 4 was already out of sight and the route was clear for a couple pitches.

I finally got tired of waiting. Their rope lead had finally slowly started climbing and had made his way up to an anchor.   I went left around them and easily scrambled up halfway to their rope lead and sat on a rock for awhile waiting for them to pass as they just started moving finally.   I would have kept going and been able to easily pass them.

But, by then my whole group started yelling up to call the climb that we wouldn’t have any more margin for error getting stuck behind these people anywhere on the route. 

For the descent we did some lowering and down-climbing to the notch.  Since we had some time to burn bailing early we decided to descend via the couloir.

We did a double rope rap from the notch, there was a hidden rap sling you have to look up and to skiers left just after starting down the notch.  From there a single would almost get you to the next rap, with the high snow though a double worked better as we had to rap down steep loose snow around a corner into a moat to reach it.  A single would have required some sketchy downclimbing in loose soft snow.  From there we did a double rope rap straight across to a rats nest of tangled webbing and tat on the rocks above a little moat. From there another double rope rap got us within about 10ft of another anchor down in a moat we couldn’t get to.   So we dug in a couple buckets and placed 2 vertical pickets and made an anchor (we had to leave behind the pickets). This area is commonly downclimbed back to the top of the big rock but the loose snow was sloughing off and sliding straight down into the big moat below, a slip there could have been a long slow motion slide into the moat.  So we did another double rope rap that just got us to the top of the big rock and out of the runout into any moats.  From here some face-in downclimbing got us to the base of the big rock and walking back to camp.









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Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Jun 18, 2018 01:27 PM

Yikes. Sorry to hear that. That sounds like pretty poor behavior out in the mountains when there were plenty of opportunities for the groups to coordinate and avoid that mess. Hopefully your crew were able to debrief and take some lessons learned too.

Ian Lauder
Ian Lauder says:
Jun 19, 2018 06:27 AM

We had actually coordinated with the other party of 4 the day before. And we worked with a faster party of 2 right behind us. This party though had problems from the moment they showed up at camp not just with being unprepared but the attitude as well. Most of which happens often enough you just deal with it. But when you get a combination of someone else in another branch knowingly showing up trying to get ahead of you, then blocking the route and giving you some attitude about they are ahead of you and you can't pass. Then to hear they complained about us to some friends of ours. I'm calling this one out. First time in 8 years of climbing with the Mountaineers I've called out someone on a climb. And yea, my point is for this to get seen and hopefully sink in somewhere to think about how you are behaving and being prepared. I'm also seeing a lack of setting intermediate climbers up for more complex routes like this and we could use some more advanced skills training. You need some more skills for a route like this than just what you learn in the first LOR sessions.

Alastair Brownlee
Alastair Brownlee says:
Jun 20, 2018 09:49 AM

On Monday the 18th (a day after Ian's trip) I climbed the route with a friend. We arrived Sunday and got to talk with Ian's group at camp, we got some valuable beta which was most appreciated. We had a successful climb which was aided greatly by the new boot track put in by the teams the day before. On our descent down the couloir we had similar complications as Ian's group. We down climbed part of the gully to the snow, made 3 single raps, then down climbed the snow. The snow in the couloir by 2pm was a soggy mess and this section of the descent was the most involved part of the day.

Ian Lauder
Ian Lauder says:
Jun 20, 2018 09:59 PM

Awesome you made it. It took us about 5 hours to get from the notch to the big rock with 4 double rope raps and building an anchor middle of the couloir. Preferable to potentially getting a stuck rope. Glad you appreciated Rodica's boot track. She gets all the credit.

Megan Miller
Megan Miller says:
Jun 21, 2018 02:09 PM

As a climb leader, doesn't sound like you were much of a leader in this situation. You point out multiple times where you "thought" something but didn't say it. Did you ever ask that party if you could go in front of them? As new beginners trying something outside of their comfort level, they might have been happy to let you through and thankful for some kind guidance. I've just moved to Seattle from Portland (a Mazama, I know)- but this wasn't a great first introduction.

Ian Lauder
Ian Lauder says:
Jun 25, 2018 08:21 AM

When they pointedly said we were climbing behind them. Yea, that tells you all you need to know. And I'm the leader of my group, not theirs.

Ian Lauder
Ian Lauder says:
Jun 25, 2018 08:31 AM

Also I don't jump on people right off the bat. If you reread the trip report. I held my tongue and didn't sweat the minor things they did. Lots of climbers are inconsiderate and only think about themselves you just deal with the minor stuff. It wasn't until we heard after the climb from another party other things they had said. At that point you can't say anything to them on the spot. In total when you add up all the things this group did that showed they were only thinking about themselves. Yea, I'm going to call out this group on it hopefully to get people thinking about how they act. At least between other mountaineers and hopefully being more considerate of others in general.