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