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

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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. The 1993 “Music Box” album was my music of choice.

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
GPS Track: available
Route Info: Steph Abegg, Matt Burton, Fabien Le Gallo
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

Views later expanded above the tree line at 5400′. From there, the route up to Taboo Glacier looked direct. Things seemed flat from below. But the peaks slowly took shape as I went up higher in the basin. Soon the horseflies followed.

Sounds of Marmots popped up everywhere as I continued on the defined path 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 east. 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 touch it. In hindsight, I should’ve taken the path on the right. But there were lots of flakes as decent holds.

Hidden gully at last
Hidden 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 was to go directly overhead. So I assessed the holds and then climbed a short, vertical crack.

At the top of the crack, I went left and down into an alcove. From there, it was tempting to go directly up the gully. But the standard way 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 using better holds.

Above the dihedral
Above the dihedral

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Class 5 Terrain

The few reports in hands were vague in terms of technicality past the dihedral. But I started seeing some cairns 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, peeps!” I thought.

Some reports gave the feeling that 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. Glad I’ve 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 took 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, there was nowhere to go but 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 track. But the goal was to reach the prominent notch below the summit. It’s at the top of class 3 to 4 steep slab gully covered in gravel 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 north of the ridgeline to finish the final stretch.

Just as I had thought, the summit was small. But I had planned on spending the night on top. So I took some time to flatten a small area by the register. Then I carved out enough space so that only my lower legs would hang 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 yards 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 sky with a warm breeze. And 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 took out the camera.

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 some stretching exercises, I 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 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 climbed up the open book. So I asked them to wait until after I rappeled into the alcove. Later I made one final (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 better once I went down to the snow. From there, it was an enjoyable exit through 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 road.

Finding my way home
Finding my way home

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