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Forbidden Peak is one of a kind “obelisk of rock”, created by the merging of several glacial cirques. Three remarkable ridges radiate from the summit (N, W, and E), Alpine Grade II-III and 5.2-5.8 (depending upon route and which guide you survey). The icefield and valley views, the alpine approaches, the rock quality, the shear majesty and position of the peak combine to make this a memorable and magnificent ascent by any route.
The West Ridge receives the most attention due to its inclusion in the 50 Classic Climbs in North America, and the attention is well-deserved. A rewarding and classic alpine climb leads to a summit with spectacular views of the nearby surrounding Northern Cascades. The summit ridge is one of the most beautiful rock ridges in the world – wild exposure, solid rock and moderate climbing all combine to make an amazing climb. You can also throw in a steep snow couloir, a moderate glacier and a beautiful, high alpine camp to round out this classic.
The approach to the West Ridge of Forbidden starts at 3,200’ on the Cascade River Road just outside the town of Marblemount. The trail leading to high camp starts in the forest but quickly climbs into the alpine. To reach your high, alpine camp you will end up climbing 3,100’ in approximately 3 miles. The approach trail is steep but it efficiently gets you to your highcamp. From there you will climb up to the base of the West Ridge Couloir via moderate snow and glacier. Climbing the couloir consists of steep, 45 to 50 degree snow, with often an easy mixed section near the top. Once you reach the ridge-crest you can cache your snow climbing gear and switch into rock shoes. The ridge itself is relatively easy in terms of technical difficulty, but the exposure and views are unmatched. The route follows on or near the ridge-crest all the way to the summit. The summit of this beautiful pyramid is truly spectacular.
Day 1: Seattle to Base Camp
Our day begins with a drive out to the Marblemount Ranger Station in the North Cascades, from where we begin hiking up the Cascade River Road to the trailhead. A gentle hike into the Boston Basin through forest and alpine meadows takes around half a day to reach camp.
Day 2: The Sharkfin Tower and Techniques Review
Today we take our time to review the various techniques for the challenge ahead. The snowfields and rock above camp serve as our training ground. As part of our training day will climb the Sharkfin Tower or depending on conditions can choose another easier objective. Our training will focus on movement skills, belaying and lowering techniques, glacier travel and self care skills. After our training day we return to camp to make our final summit preparations, before an alpine start.
Day 3: Summit Day
Our day begins with an early start and consists of ascending a small glacier below the South Face and then mid-fifth class rock and 40- to 50- degree snow and ice in the West Ridge Couloir. At the top of the couloir we cache our glacier gear for the fantastic mid-fifth class rock climb along the exposed crest to the summit. From the top the full majesty of the North Cascades are revealed with Mt. Baker to the northwest and views south all the way to Mt. Rainier. We spend the night back in camp celebrating our success!
Day 4: Back to Seattle
On our last morning break camp and hike down to our vehicles. Those with a plane to catch should plan for an arrival in Seattle around mid-afternoon.
N.B. Although we do our very best to follow the schedule listed, the very nature of climbing in an alpine environment requires flexibility. This itinerary is subject to change due to inclement weather, unsafe route conditions, and other reasons beyond our control.
Travel Insurance and Rescue Insurance:
We require the purchase of insurance plans to protect you from the unexpected. Please consult with your insurance company with any specific questions, regarding coverage, and policy details, and if you have any questions contact our offices.
We recommend that you bring snacks to supplement the mountain lunches for 3 days. Take snacks that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Pacific North West, USA
Summer 2015, TBD
Excellent physical condition, a knowledge of mountaineering techniques and previous alpine and rock climbing experience ideal. Climbers should be comfortable on 45 degree snow and ice slopes and climbing on exposed ridges.
1:1, 1:2, max 1:4
Does not include:
Pacific North West, USA
TBD according to group size
1:1, 1:2, max 1:4