Torment-Forbidden Traverse, Sharkfin Tower, & North Face of Buckner Whirlwind!
Wow- what a trip! Tracey Bernstein and MM guide Ian Nicholson send some Cascade classics in one trip. And while the summer was full of new adventures that keeps Mountain Madness and its clientele at the forefront of unique guided climbs in the Cascades, like Mt. Challenger-Pickets Traverse, an Olympic traverse on unexplored terrain, and climbs of Mox and Spickard in a remote corner of the North Cascades National Park, this trip stands out for the sheer amount of alpine climbing accomplished in one trip. Nice job Tracey and Ian!
Sharkfin Tower. Ian Nicholson photo
Reported by Ian Nicholson:
“Our trip began at the Marblemount Ranger station where we secured our permits for the next 6 days. Our objectives: Torment-Forbidden Traverse, SE Ridge of the Sharkfin Tower, and the North Face of Mt. Buckner! We drove up the Cascade River Road and hiked into the Boston Basin High Camp at 6,300 feet where we found a dry spot to set up camp. It is unbelievable how much snow there is this time of year! Above our camp towered our primary objective for the trip: the mile-long, knife edged Torment-Forbidden Traverse.
On the Torment-Forbidden Traverse. Ian Nicholson photo
“We left camp early the next day, leaving camp behind and carrying a light load: with the clear weather forecast, we planned to bivy on the ridge with only a stove, our pads and sleeping bags. Tracey and I crossed the Taboo Glacier to gain the Southwest Ridge of Mt. Torment. We reached the summit by noon, where the challenges began.
On the West Ridge of Forbidden. Ian Nicholson photo
Summit of Forbidden with Buckner in the background. Ian Nicholson photo
“From the summit we traversed down and eastward toward a notch in the ridge, which allowed us to rappel onto the North side and onto the upper Forbidden Glacier. We were confronted with a 30+ foot moat guarding the glacier! After scoping out our options, I rappelled in, knowing I could always prussik my way back up the lines. After investigating the inside of the moat, I discovered a 25 – 30 foot vertical section that would allow us to climb out onto the surface of the glacier. Tracey joined me and we used our ice axes to climb out, crossing steep snow and gaining the rock ridge. After 12 hours of travel, we had reached roughly the halfway point along the traverse. We chose a beautiful bivy spot on a grassy ledge with a 1,500 foot drop off on the far side.
“We awoke the next morning to a beautiful sunrise. After a long, hard first day, we were surprised when the second half of the traverse only took us 3 hours. Tracey couldn’t believe how cool the climbing and exposure was on the second half, where we sometimes walked along with 1,500−2,000 feet of exposure on either side. We left our packs at the West Ridge notch and climbed the West Ridge in a little over an hour and a half. That evening we returned to our Boston Basin High Camp.
On Sharkfin Tower. Ian Nicholson photo
“We started out another stellar day in the Cascades as we made our way up the western edge of the Quien Sabe Glacier to the base of Sharkfin Tower gulley. After the Torment Forbidden Traverse, Sharkfin felt like a Sunday morning drive, and we climbed to the summit in 45 minutes. We descended to Sharkfin Col only to be greeted by another gigantic moat on the Boston Glacier side. We rappelled about 20 feet below the surface and traversed 50 feet in the moat before using our tools to climb to the surface. The photos we took from the top of Sharkfin helped us greatly to make our way through the maze of crevasses and saved us a lot of time. We reached our tent site at 6,900 feet below the North Face of Mt. Buckner where we spent the night.
Looking back at Forbidden (West Ridge on left, East Ridge in center, and North Ridge on right). Ian Nicholson photo
The always tricky moat crossing getting on or off the Quien Sabe Glacier. Ian Nicholson photo
Approaching Buckner. Ian Nicholson photo
“Chilly temps woke us up at 4:00 a.m. as we prepared for our summit push. We skirted one huge bergshrund that was 1⁄3 the height of the face, which proved to be even easier than we’d anticipated. Once at the ‘shrund, we climbed 14 pitches on firm névé and ice up to 50 dgrees to the summit where we arrived at 10:00 a.m.
On the steep north face of Buckner. Ian Nicholson photo
Steep snow traverse on route. Ian Nicholson photo
Doesn’t get much better for after a hard day of climbing! Ian Nicholson photo
“We relaxed on the summit for almost an hour, taking in our accomplishments and enjoying the views, before we descended into Horseshoe Basin and traversed to our next camp at 7,700 feet on the Sahale arm. The last 5 days had started to catch up with us and we were getting tired, but with only the walk out the next day, we were extremely satisfied!”
~ Ian Nicholson
The Torment-Forbidden Traverse (left to right). Ian Nicholson photo
Late flower bloom, with the Magic Mtn. and the start of the Ptarmigan Traverse in the background. Ian Nicholson photo