With the Torment-Forbidden Traverse and, more recently, the North Ridge under my belt, the East Ridge Direct was the natural next line to experience on this classic North Cascades peak. Kelsey and I drove up on Friday night to bivy at the trailhead and get started early enough to hopefully return to Seattle in time for fireworks on the 4th.
We got 4 to 5 restless hours of sleep in the parking lot and woke up at 4am to get going by 4:30am. After ascending the now-familiar trail to Boston Basin, we ran into a pair of climbing rangers who were headed up for the same route. We leapfrogged each other on the way up to the col near the solitary gendarme and racked up together in the sun.
We were climbing by 9am or so, quickly rising to the ridge crest and enjoying an awesome position and exposure with very moderate, well-protected climbing. We did a few simul-climbing blocks and passed the ranger ladies just after a fun au cheval knife edge. The 5.7 face moves were fun, though I think I stayed too far left and climbed some more difficult moves straight up with little protection. After a short rap, we tackled the 5.8 crux, which I thought was super fun and well protected. Easy 5th class brought us to a quiet summit with no other climbers—pretty novel for Forbidden Peak and especially for July 4th on a long weekend. Not bad!
The East Ledges descent has received quite a bit of hype, but we found it to be pretty straightforward and relatively tame in the grand scheme of things. Don't be too concerned. 5 raps with a little down-climbing or 6 should do it. There are cairns at most of the rock rib crossings showing the easiest way.
We finished up, boot-skied as much snow as we could, and were back at the car by 4pm for about 11.5 hours round trip. Plenty of time to get home and catch an awesome fireworks display!