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Mountain Madness Climber

Forbidden Peak Earns its Name

The name of For­bid­den served cor­rect on our recent climb up the West Ridge of For­bid­den Peak. Although we had only 3 days from begin­ning to end, we packed a whole lot of adven­ture into our trip. I first met up with Den­nis and Adlai at the air­port. We were sea­soned climb­ing part­ners and had climbed sev­er­al alpine mis­sions togeth­er pri­or, but we did not know what was in store for us this time around. Ear­li­er in the sum­mer I had sug­gest­ed that climb­ing For­bid­den Peak would be a great addi­tion to their alpine resume and could incor­po­rate a lot of dif­fer­ent skills in the moun­tains. Our trip began with an excit­ing dri­ve out to Mar­ble­mount where we saw a car blow out its front tire on I‑5 and watched them spin out and crash into the side­wall of the inter­state, luck­i­ly nobody was injured.

Marc Rip­perg­er Photo

Our orig­i­nal plan was to climb the North Ridge of For­bid­den how­ev­er the weath­er fore­cast report­ed a high prob­a­bil­i­ty of rain. We opt­ed for the West Ridge instead, which allows for a bet­ter retreat in case of bad weath­er. We quick­ly hiked into Boston Basin and set­up camp and ate din­ner before the late evening thun­der­storms came in. Huge rain down­pours and thun­der rat­tled our tents that evening but we were warm and cozy in our sleep­ing bags.

Marc Rip­perg­er Photo

We woke up that morn­ing to beau­ti­ful blue sky and set out for the West Ridge of For­bid­den Peak. We climbed up the glac­i­er below the west ridge weav­ing our way through crevass­es to arrive at the base of the rock gul­ly. In ear­ly sea­son you can climb up 40 – 50 degree snow to access the west ridge but this time of year we had to climb sev­er­al pitch­es of rock to access the ridge. We made our way up the gul­ly and regrouped at the notch of the west ridge for our push to the sum­mit. Great climb­ing and expo­sure on the ridge even­tu­al­ly brought us to the sum­mit. We spent a cou­ple min­utes on the small peak of For­bid­den, soak­ing up the dra­mat­ic views. In the dis­tance we noticed some clouds build­ing and decid­ed to hus­tle up and begin our descent. Those small clouds in the dis­tance did not stay that way, we quick­ly noticed thun­der­storms were brew­ing as the winds start­ed to surge. In a mat­ter of 20 min­utes our clear beau­ti­ful day quick­ly meta­mor­phosed into scary black clouds. We quick­ened our pace down the ridge and start­ed our 6 rap­pels down the gul­ly. Now the rains were start­ing to hit us and thun­der began to boom over head.

Marc Rip­perg­er Photo

We threw on our rain jack­ets and con­tin­ued the rap­pels down. Things seemed to get bet­ter until we got the sec­ond surge of the storm. Rain and hail opened up and pum­meled us, light­en­ing flashed and thun­der cracked over­head and we hud­dled close to the rock as the gul­ly turned into a flood­gate of rush­ing water. Rocks were fly­ing off the moun­tain and we curled even clos­er in. We were soaked to the bone and a shiv­er­ing mass of bod­ies. The storm seized slight­ly and we con­tin­ued our final rap­pels down. Wet and cold we just con­tin­ued mov­ing as the rains con­tin­ued to fall. The streams around our camp at 5600 feet were rag­ing out of con­trol I was sure our tents were going to be flood­ed and swept away. We quick­ly made our way back into camp and smiled at that fact that our tents were dry on the inside and we still had a cou­ple of dry lay­ers to change into. We peeled off our wet lay­ers and brewed up a well deserved din­ner and talked and laughed about the fun and scary moments the moun­tain threw at us that day.

Marc Rip­perg­er photo

We slept in that morn­ing, packed up our wet belong­ings and began our decent back to the cars. I demon­strat­ed to Den­nis and Adlai how to prop­er­ly float the creek after get­ting swept off my feet on one of the creek cross­ing. We made our way down encoun­ter­ing anoth­er group of day hik­ers com­ing up. We said our hello’s with smil­ing faces ready to get back to a show­er and clean clothes. The two hik­ers quick­ly bust­ed our high and asked You guys haven’t heard?” I respond­ed Heard what?” they then informed me the news that the road down from Cas­cade Pass washed out in the storm and now us, along with 70 oth­er peo­ple were stuck at the trail­head. We got back to my truck and talked with a Park Ranger who was also stuck up on the pass. They informed us they were work­ing to fix the road and might have it open by 7pm. Unfor­tu­nate­ly Den­nis and Adlai were fly­ing out that evening and had to be to work on Mon­day morn­ing. The for­est ser­vice worked relent­less­ly mov­ing boul­der and dirt fill­ing the 25 foot deep chasm that had washed out. They opened the road at 4 pm and we thank­ful­ly made it out of the moun­tains. We had a cou­ple hours to burn and stopped in at a local restau­rant in Burling­ton to grab a bite to eat before drop­ping the guys off at the air­port just in time to make their flight. Turned out to be quite an excit­ing 3 day weekend! 

- MM Guide Marc Ripperger