Saturday, July 17, 2010

Forbidden Torment

If there was a climb called Forbidden-Torment, you'd want to climb it, right?

Several years ago, Mary said "I want to climb Forbidden." It is a well-known climb in the North Cascades, classic easy-moderate rock in a beautiful alpine setting, way up in the high mountains on a ridge with views of mountains and lakes and forests and pointy rocks all around. I said, "how about the Forbidden-Torment traverse?"

This traverse is, among other things, featured in a coffee table book called "50 Classic Climbs" which popularized some beautiful climbs, many of them not prohibitively difficult for your average climber. It is a mile-long pointy ridge between Mt Torment and Mt Forbidden, and requires both technical rock climbing skills and commitment to the route - once you rappel onto the north side of the ridge from Torment, it is prohibitively difficult to get off the ridge without continuing to Forbidden at the other end.

Four years ago Mary and I got caught in an ice-storm up there, and were on the traverse for four days instead of our planned two, just continuing to climb the ice-coated ridge in zero visibility so we could get off. We ran out of food and were at times very concerned about hypothermia - it's the first time I've actually contemplated the possibility of dying in the mountains. (The above picture is of Mary on that first attempt.) But we made it down in one piece, and came up one other time to attempt the route before turning around.

This time, Mary led the hardest part - getting off the glacier and onto the rock - and we headed for the top of Torment. Unfortunately, we haven't done much climbing together recently, and in the end we were moving too slow to anticipate a good climb - the time we had would not permit us to have normal-length days and achieve our objective. We'd done the traverse itself once, though it wasn't fun. If we weren't enjoying this climb, why were we doing it? So we came down and camped with the marmots, and enjoyed the sunset.

Next time Mary says "I want to climb this mountain," I'm just going to say, "OK."

1 comment:

Indira Kadambi said...

wow!..I love to try this one day too:).. very well written suzanne:)