Mount Torment by Forbidden Peak / 靠禁峯的折磨山

Mount Torment is famous for the Torment-Forbidden Traverse. It’s also my final technical climb on the Washington State Top 200 Peaks. Like Mount Degenhardt, it was another unranking peak. Choice of music–1993 “Music Box” by Mariah Carey.

Mount Torment through the forest
Mount Torment through the forest

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Mount Torment at a Glance

Access: Boston Basin Cross-Country Zone Access Trailhead
Round Trip: 12 miles
Elevation Range: 3320′-8120′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax, rope
Beta: Fabien Le Gallo, Matt Burton, Steph Abegg
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Boston Basin Trail

The last time I was here, I went climbing Forbidden Peak. It was also my first intermediate rock climb with the Mountaineers. But despite the number of people accessing this path over the years, certain places remained brushy.

The trail made several switchbacks in the forest from 3400′ onward. Then it steepened from 3800′ up to 4200′ before Midas Creek. I got to see Mount Torment earlier from the road. But the view of the mountain through the trees was spotty.

This way to Mount Torment
This way to Mount Torment

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Boston Basin

Later views opened up above the tree line at 5400′. Then from there, the route up to Taboo Glacier was straightforward. Things looked flat from below. Soon, the peaks slowly took shape as I went up higher in the basin. Soon the horseflies followed.

The sounds of Marmots popped up in all directions. Meanwhile, the defined path continued through to the north side of Boston Creek. Later it dwindled by the south-trending buttress at 6400′. Then it was class 2-3 uphill scramble through granite rocks and snow.

In the meadowf
In the meadow

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Class 4 Gully on Mount Torment

The hidden gully wasn’t visible until near the top of the glacier. I bypassed the one significant crevasse from the right. Then I went toward the moat on the western edge of the snow. Luckily, the snow bridge was still intact for me to step onto the rocks.

A small tower separated the two distinct routes leading up to the notch. I took the less chossy one on the left with a fixed rope. The line looked old, so I didn’t try to pull on it. There were also plenty of flakes with decent holds. But I should have taken the path on the right.

Hiden gully at last
Hiden gully at last

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Dihedral on Mount Torment

From the top, I went clockwise around the tower. Then I was at the notch below the headwall with bright yellow lichen. There the only feasible way to move up was by going directly overhead. So I studied the holds and then climbed a short, vertical crack.

At the top of the crack, I went left and down into an alcove. It was tempting to go up the gully. But the standard route was the steep, 100′-tall dihedral to the left. It was slabby in the middle. So I climbed through the outer part of the open book with better holds.

Above the dihedral
Above the dihedral

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Into Class 5 Terrain

The few reports in hands were vague in terms of technicality past the dihedral. But I started seeing cairns there and followed them for a bit. I rounded the ridge at 7600′. Then I knew what was in store for the next few hundred feet. “Brace yourself!” I yelled.

For some reason, I thought the climb was no more than exposed class 3. But instead, it was a sustained class 4 to low 5th endeavor. So it was an absolute no-fall zone. Good thing I had been on enough of similar terrain to prepare myself mentally.

Only way to go is up
Only way to go is up

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Upper Notch at 8000′

I spent the next 400′ west of the ridgeline. The first 300′ was the slowest. I had to take my time to find feasible ways to go through some of the cruxes. But in general, there weren’t many options. And most of the time, I had no choice but to go straight up.

I made notes of the rappel stations I saw en route. At one point, I even came across an old piton. So I knew I was still on the right track. The goal was to reach the prominent notch right under the summit block. It’s at the top of class 3 to 4 gully with gravel-covered steep slabs.

One step closer to Mount Torment
One step closer to Mount Torment

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Mount Torment Summit

Later I crossed the notch to the east side of the crest. A bit more class 3 to 4 scrambling on the southeast face then put me on the summit ridge. It was still rocky here. So I stayed below the ridgeline on the north side to finish the final stretch.

Just as I had suspected, the summit was small. But I had planned on spending the night on top. So I took the time to flatten a small area by the register. Then I carved out enough space so that only my lower legs were hanging over the rocks.

Kodak moment panoramic view on Mount Torment
Kodak moment panoramic view on Mount Torment

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A Night on Mount Torment

I came up here in the afternoon. So I had plenty of time to photograph everything the eyes could see. Forbidden Peak sat front and center. There were also Eldorado, Sahale, and Klawatti. It was only a year ago that I bivyed across the valley on Johannesburg.

The sky was full of vibrant colors in the evening. As darkness fell, I heard noises from a few feet away. It turned out to be a rodent trying to steal my food. So I hung the bag over a boulder instead. It was a starry night with a warm breeze. I had a restful night.

Forbidden dreams
Forbidden dreams

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A Peaceful Morning

At night, I saw headlamps on the north ridge of Forbidden Peak. There was also one party coming down from Quien Sabe Glacier in the dark. In the morning, I awoke to the sounds of birds chirping before sunrise. Then I quickly prepare the camera for photos.

My right calf was still hurting from last weekend. So I’ve stood on my toes for most of this climb to ease the discomfort. After a quick stretch of the muscle, I packed and then left the summit at a quarter to 7. I wanted to be down on the glacier before it became too warm.

After sunrise
After sunrise

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Leaving Mount Torment

Soon, I was in the steep gully below the summit. Then I carefully went through the gravel-covered slabs. Once I battled that part, I came upon a rappel station I had missed on the way up. From there, I made four 30m rappels. Then I rounded the ridge crest back at 7600′.

At the next station, I rappeled to the top of the dihedral. There I saw two climbers before they began to climb the open book. So I asked them to wait until after I rappeled into the alcove. Later I made one last (7th, or maybe 8th?) rappel to the notch above the hidden gully.

Looking back at the steep gully
Looking back at the steep gully

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Outro

From the notch, I then downclimbed the choosy gully. Meanwhile, another party of two went up the left route like I did. I briefly chatted with the belayer at the bottom. It turned out that they were the people I saw on Quien Sabe Glacier the night before.

I felt much better once I went back down to the snow. From there, it was an enjoyable exit through the Boston Basin and the meadow. There was one lone tent off the beaten path. Then I didn’t see anyone again until before I went out onto the forest road.

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

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