Mount Torment by Forbidden Peak of Torment-Forbidden Traverse / 折磨山

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Mount Torment is well-known for the Torment-Forbidden Traverse. My final technical climb on the Washington State Top 200 Peaks is another unranking peak like Mount Degenhardt. The 1993 “Music Box” album was my choice of music for this trip.

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: 10 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

When I was here last, I went up to Forbidden Peak, 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′ to 4200′ before Midas Creek. I saw Mount Torment earlier from the car, but views of the mountain through the trees were spotty.

This way to Mount Torment
This way to Mount Torment

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Boston Basin

Terrain expanded above the trees at 5400′, where the route to Taboo Glacier looked direct. Things seemed flat from below, but the peaks soon took shape as I went higher in the basin. Shortly, the horseflies followed.

Sounds of Marmots popped up everywhere as I continued on the path to the north of Boston Creek. Soon, the trail faded at 6400′ by the south-facing buttress. 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

I bypassed the large crevasse from the east and went west to the moat. The hidden gully wasn’t visible until the top of the glacier. But glad that the bridge was still intact 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 an old, fixed rope that I didn’t dare to pull. There were flakes as decent holds, but I should’ve taken the path on the right.

The hidden gully at last
The hidden gully at last

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Dihedral on Mount Torment

I went around the tower from the notch to the gap below the bright yellow lichen wall. The only feasible way to go was directly overhead. So I assessed the holds and climbed through a short, vertical crack.

Atop the crack, I went down into an alcove, where the gully looked inviting. But the standard route went up the steep, 100′-tall dihedral to the left. It had a slabby middle, so I climbed on the outer part of the open book with better holds.

Above the dihedral
Above the dihedral

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Class 5 Terrain

The few reports in hand were vague about the ratings past the dihedral. But I started seeing cairns and followed them around the ridge at 7600′. Then I knew what was in store for the next few hundred feet–“Brace yourselves, peeps!” I thought.

Some reports felt that the climb was no more than exposed class 3. But it was a sustained class 4 to low 5th endeavor and an absolute no-fall zone. Glad I’ve been on enough of similar terrain to prepare myself mentally.

The only way to go is up
The only way to go is up

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Upper Notch at 8000′

I spent the next 400′ west of the ridge, the first 300′ being the slowest. I took time to find ways through some of the cruxes. But in general, there weren’t many options. 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 and knew I was still on track. The goal was to reach the prominent notch atop the class 3-4 steep slab gully covered in gravel.

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

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Mount Torment Summit

Soon, I crossed the notch to the east of the crest. Then class 3-4 scrambling on the southeast face put me on the summit ridge. Since it was still rocky, I stayed north of the ridgeline to finish the climb.

The summit was small as I thought. But I had planned on staying the night here and took time to flatten a small area by the register. Then I carved out enough space to hang my lower legs 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 in the afternoon with plenty of time to photograph everything the eyes could see. Forbidden Peak, Eldorado, Sahale, and Klawatti were among the many peaks. Then across the valley was Johannesburg, where I bivvied a year ago.

Vibrant colors had filled the sky in the evening. Soon, I heard noises a few yards away from 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 in Boston Basin

At night, I saw headlamps on the north ridge of Forbidden Peak. Then one party came down from Quien Sabe Glacier in the dark. In the morning, I awoke to the sounds of birds chirping before sunrise and started taking photos.

I was on my toes most of the time to ease the discomfort of my right calf from last weekend. After stretching a bit, I left the top at a quarter to 7. I wanted to be down on the snow before it grew too warm.

After sunrise
After sunrise

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Leaving Mount Torment

Soon, I was in the steep gully below the top and carefully went through the gravel slabs. After battling that part, I found a rappel station I had missed yesterday. From there, I made four 30m rappels and rounded the crest back at 7600′.

Shortly, I dropped to the top of the dihedral as two climbers were about to come up. So I asked them to wait for me to go into the alcove first. Then I rappeled from the crack (7th or 8th time?) to the notch above the hidden gully.

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

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Leaving Boston Basin

From the notch, I 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. By chance, they were the folks I saw on Quien Sabe Glacier the night before.

I felt better back on the snow, and then it was an enjoyable exit through Boston Basin. One lone tent had nestled 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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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Chris

    Great story! This popped up in my Google News feed and I’m glad it did! Thank you for sharing your words and pictures!

  2. onehikeaweek

    Thanks, Chris! Fantastic to hear that it showed up there. Happy hiking!

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