Granite peaks, rolling glaciers and exhilarating climbing. If that's what you want, the North Cascades are your playground. Also known as the American Alps, is an alpine climber's dream.
This is the epicenter of the North Cascades and hosts a variety of alpine objectives, including the famed "50 Classic" West Ridge of Forbidden. With a relatively short approach, mind blowing views and routes that range from glacier climbs to epic traverses to 5.8 rock, this zone has something for everyone.
Forbidden Peak (Grade III-IV, 5.6-5.8, Steep Snow, Glacier)
The gem of Boston Basin, Forbidden has many more routes beyond its iconic route, The West Ridge ( featured in Roper and Steck's "50 Classic Climbs of North America"). And don't get us wrong, the WR is incredible, but there are options for folks with an appetite for adventure. Any way you climb it, the views from the top are only surpassed by the sense of accomplishment. Here are the options:
West Ridge (Grade III, 5.6, Steep Snow)
Looming directly above camp in Boston Basin, the West Ridge forms the left skyline of the imposing pyramid of Forbidden Peak. The route starts on mellow snow that steepens quickly until meeting 4th class rock that leads to the ridge. From here it's spectacular, low 5th class granite climbing to the summit. The crux 5.6 is a short sequence that amplifies the exposure of the route. The descent is back down the way you came up.
East Ridge (Grade III, 5.8, Steep Snow)
The East Ridge is the right skyline of Forbidden. It offers excellent ridge climbing, slightly harder climbing than it's brother to the West. One cool feature is that the descent loops down the West Ridge so climbers who ascended the ER get to see what the crowds on the WR were doing all morning.
Northwest Face (Grade IV, 5.8, Steep Snow, Glacier)
The Northwest Face is a wild adventure. This climb is grade IV and typically completed with a bivvy on the North Ridge. Climbers ascend Sharkfin Col, where a committing rappel is made onto the Boston Glacier. From there, a traverse is made to the north side of Forbidden, where the North Ridge is gained by crossing a moat and ascending 3rd class rock. On top of the ridge is a tiny bivy spot that is home for the night. The next morning starts early with a two stage rappel from camp onto the Foridden Glacier. Once on the Forbidden, climbers gain the base of the Northwest Face and begin climbing excellent quality granite that includes a spicy knife-edge traverse. Wild! Once on top, climbers descend the West Ridge.
North Ridge (Grade III, 5.6, Steep Snow, Glacier)
The North Ridge follows a similar start to the NW Face. After rappelling onto the Boston Glacier, traversing to North Ridge and camping there, the climb (spoiler alert) continues up the North Ridge. An excellent position in the range, awesome exposure and moderate climbing with few people make the North Ridge an excellent option. Once again, the descent is via the West Ridge.
Yes, there are a lot of options for one little peak. Don't worry, if that's too many, we'd love to help you pick the best route for you.
Sahale Peak (Grade II, 4th, Glacier)
Sharkfin Tower (Grade II, 5.4, Glacier)