THE NORTH CASCADES

The North Cascades are part of the Cascade Range, one of the great mountain ranges of western North America. The rugged granite spires and towering volcanoes of the Cascades extend from British Columbia in Canada south across the U.S. border through Washington and Oregon into Northern California. Northwest Alpine Guides leads trips throughout the Cascades and the Olympic Mountains in Washington State.

Mount Shuksan • 9,131 ft

North Cascades National Park

Known as the “Crown Jewel of the North Cascades,” Mount Shuksan is one of the most beautiful mountains in the United States. Our guided climbs on this iconic peak are simply unforgettable. We approach the mountain through old-growth hemlock forests and alpine meadows, where we often see mountain goats grazing among the wildflowers. Our high camp occupies a natural amphitheater near the toe of the Sulphide Glacier, surrounded by views of the North Cascades. At sunrise, morning light illuminates the jagged, icy peaks of Mount Baker just to the west. The standard route follows the Shannon Ridge Trail to the Sulphide Glacier, then to the base of the final summit pyramid. A 600-foot rock climb (class 3 scramble) takes us up a gully to the 9,127-foot summit. The slightly more difficult Fisher Chimneys route features more alpine rock climbing.

MOUNT SHUKSAN SULPHIDE GLACIER »MOUNT SHUKSAN FISHER CHIMNEYS »

Eldorado Peak • 8,868 ft

North Cascades National Park

Dubbed the “Queen of the Cascade River,“ Eldorado Peak rises from the edge of the largest ice sheet in the Contiguous United States, the Klawatti-Inspiration-McAlister Ice Cap. Eldorado Peak offers moderate climbing with amazing views of Dorado Needle, Forbidden Peak, Mount Buckner, Mount Logan, Johannesburg and the peaks of the famous Ptarmigan Traverse. The summit is an unforgettable knife-edge snow ridge. Our route ascends moderate terrain on the Eldorado and Inspiration glaciers to the East Ridge, which leads to the summit. On the approach we climb steeply through heavy timber and a boulder field into a beautiful alpine basin. We can set up high camp in the Eldorado Basin or higher on the Inspiration Glacier. Our professional guides will teach you the skills you need for a safe and successful climb.

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Dorado Needle • 8,460 ft

North Cascades National Park

Located just north of Eldorado Peak on the McAllister Glacier, Dorado Needle is the western high point of the McAllister and Inspiration glacier system. An expedition to Dorado Needle offers solitude as we explore this vast glacier system at a distance from the busier slopes of Eldorado Peak. Our route includes enjoyable alpine rock climbing up to 5.7, with dramatic exposure.

Boston Basin

North Cascades National Park

Boston Basin is one of the most popular alpine climbing destinations in North Cascades National Park because it provides access to the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak, one of the 50 Classic Climbs in North America. Other excellent objectives accessed from Boston Basin include the Quien Sabe Glacier Route on Sahale Peak, Sharkfin Tower, Mount Buckner and Mount Torment. Mount Torment and Forbidden Peak are often climbed together via the famed Torment-Forbidden Traverse.

Sahale Mountain • 8,681 ft

North Cascades National Park

Sahale Mountain stands at the head of Cascade Pass and the impressive Stehekin Valley. The Sahale Glacier Route, accessed via Cascade Pass and the Sahale Arm, is one of the most popular beginner mountaineering routes in the Cascades. A longer and slightly more challenging route ascends the Quien Sabe Glacier from Boston Basin. Both routes end with a short rock scramble (class 3) onto the 8,681-foot summit, where climbers enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the Cascade Range.

SAHALE MOUNTAIN GLACIER »SAHALE PEAK QUIEN SABE GLACIER »

Sharkfin Tower • 8,160 ft

North Cascades National Park

Sharkfin Tower is one of the most dramatic spires above Boston Basin. An ascent of the Southeast Ridge can serve as an excellent introduction to alpine rock climbing, or can be combined with one of the other classic climbs in the area. The route features steep snow, glacier climbing, and moderate rock, making it an excellent training ground for any climber who wants to practice some of the many skills of a well-rounded alpinist. Located in an area rich with high-quality climbing, the granite of Sharkfin Tower is nonetheless considered some of the best in Washington State. While the climb is relatively short, what it lacks in length it makes up for in position, exposure and ambiance.

Forbidden Peak • 8,816 ft

North Cascades National Park

Thanks to its inclusion in Steve Roper and Allen Steck’s legendary climbing book, “The 50 Classic Climbs of North America,” the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak is the most famous route of the spectacular Boston Basin area in the heart of North Cascades National Park. We approach the route from the Cascade River Road, following a climbers’ trail through old-growth forest to the impressive Boston Glacier. The West Ridge consists of mid-fifth class climbing accessed via a 40- to 50-degree snow and ice couloir. On the ridge, climbers are surrounded by rugged glaciated mountains, including Sahale Peak, Boston Peak, Mount Torment and Mount Buckner. The West Ridge is an ideal guided challenge for aspiring alpinists who want to hone their skills on more advanced terrain.

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Mount Torment • 8,120 ft

North Cascades National Park

Located just west of Forbidden Peak, Mount Torment can be climbed as an excellent one-day outing from Boston Basin, or combined with the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak for the famous Torment-Forbidden Traverse. The climbing on Mount Torment’s Southeast Face is much easier than the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak, but Torment is not without its obstacles and is a rewarding mountain.

We approach Torment via the Boston Basin Trail and establish a high camp at the edge of the Unnamed Glacier on Forbidden Peak. From here, we traverse west under a spur ridge off of the Torment-Forbidden Traverse, then ascend slabs and finally glacier to the base of the route. The Southeast Face Route follows the path of least resistance to the notch on the east corner of Mount Torment. While the terrain is not overly difficult, we enjoy interesting and sometimes steep terrain as we make our way to the summit.

The Southeast Face Route can be combined with ascents of Sahale Peak and Sharkfin Tower as part of a moderate tour of Boston Basin. Climbers may also choose to ascend the more challenging Southeast Ridge of Mount Torment or complete the classic Torment-Forbidden Traverse from the summit of Torment to the top of Forbidden Peak.

Torment – Forbidden Traverse

North Cascades National Park

The Torment-Forbidden Traverse (Grade IV, 5.7) is a challenging and much sought-after route, in part because it ends with an ascent of the famous West Ridge of Forbidden Peak. The “TFT” dominates the skyline above Boston Basin, offering every element of a classic, technical, alpine traverse: iconic and aesthetic summits, a high level of commitment, and fun, engaging climbing. Our 3-day trip ascends the Taboo Glacier, climbs Torment’s South Ridge, then descends to the long ridge that ultimately connects to Forbidden’s West Ridge. Numerous ridge features, steep sections of glacial snow and ice and fantastic positions on sound rock characterize the traverse. Join us on one of the North Cascades’ best routes.

Mount Buckner • 9,114 ft

North Cascades National Park

Located in the heart of North Cascades National Park, Mt. Buckner is one of the most important peaks in Washington and a fine alpine ice climb. Flanked by one of the largest icefields in the range, the Boston Glacier, Buckner offers all the elements of a classic Cascades objective: a strenuous approach, a remote setting, quality climbing and incredible alpine ambiance.

Mount Buckner’s North Face is a 40- to 50-degree snow and ice climb. No portion of the route is particularly difficult, but the climbing and the approach add up to a strenuous undertaking. From the summit, climbers look out over the striking, ice-capped peaks of the Cascade Pass area, known for good reason as the “American Alps.”

Mount Triumph • 7,260 ft

North Cascades National Park

The name perfectly captures the feeling of summiting this dramatic peak! Located in a remote and extremely rugged part of North Cascades National Park, Mount Triumph is one of the best moderate alpine rock climbs in Washington. The Northeast Ridge was first climbed in 1965 by local pioneers Joan and Joe Firey. It is comparable to the classic routes on Forbidden Peak and Mount Shuksan, though it is smaller in stature and much less traveled.

Twin Sisters Mountain • 7,004 ft

Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

Twin Sisters Mountain is an outlier from the main spine of the Cascades located just south of Mount Baker on the edge of the Puget Sound. Composed of ancient olivine rock, “the Twins” offer a unique climbing experience. The reddish orange olivine is solid and extremely textured, making for excellent moderate, alpine rock climbing. Most climbers choose to ascend the popular west ridge of South Twin, the higher of the two summits. North Twin may also be climbed via moderate terrain on its west ridge, and more experienced climbers can link the two summits via the scenic and sometimes exposed North Twin to South Twin Traverse.

Ruth Mountain • 7,115 ft

Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

Ruth Mountain is a moderate glaciated peak and a fitting objective for beginner mountaineers. From the icy summit of this ancient volcano, climbers enjoy panoramic views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker, Hannegan Peak, and the rarely visited Picket Range. It is difficult to find a more beautiful location to learn the basics of mountaineering. From Hannegan Pass our route ascends a steep ridge to the base of the Ruth Glacier, then winds between crevasses on moderate slopes to the summit. We typically climb the route in two days, but fit and experienced climbers can complete it in one very long day. Strong climbers may also choose to combine Ruth Mountain with an ascent of nearby Icy Peak (7,070 feet) via a two- or three-day trip on the Ruth-Icy Traverse.

THE CASCADE VOLCANOES • WASHINGTON STATE

The towering peaks of the Cascade Volcanic Arc extend for more than 700 miles from southwestern British Columbia through Washington State and Oregon into Northern California. The major peaks in the range are iconic, ice-capped pyramids visible from major West Coast cities, including Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, B.C. In Washington, the Cascade Volcanoes include some of the most popular objectives in North American mountaineering, including Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and the 8,366-foot Mount Saint Helens, which erupted on May 18, 1980. Before the eruption its summit stood at 9,677 feet. Outside of Washington, notable Cascade Volcanoes include Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters in Oregon, and Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen in California.

Mount Rainier • 14,411 ft

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is the highest point in the Pacific Northwest and offers more glaciated technical terrain than any other mountain in the contiguous United States. On clear days, climbers on the summit enjoy unobstructed views of the North Cascades, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Baker, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, and the islands of the Puget Sound. Known as “Tahoma” to local Indian tribes, this giant stratovolcano was named Mount Rainier by George Vancouver on his maritime expedition in 1792. It was probably first ascended by a member of a local tribe, but the first recorded ascent was completed by Hazard Stevens and P.B. Von Trump in 1870.

Today, Mount Rainier is one of North America’s foremost alpine proving grounds. With more than 30 distinct summit routes, the mountain offers something for mountaineers of all skill levels. The most popular route begins at Paradise on the south side of the mountain and approaches the summit via the Muir Snowfield, Ingraham Flats and the Disappointment Cleaver. Approximately 13,000 climbers attempt Mount Rainier every year, and about half of them succeed. Climbers who hire professional guides enjoy considerably higher success rates.

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Mount Baker • 10,781 ft

Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

Mount Baker is the second-most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States and offers spectacular mountaineering at lower elevations than Mount Rainier. Located just south of the Canadian border, the mountain the mountain is a familiar sight to residents of Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle. The Coleman Deming and Easton Glacier routes are excellent training grounds for climbers seeking their first taste of glaciated mountaineering. More experienced alpinists enjoy the classic North Ridge, one of the best moderate “big mountain” snow and ice climbs in the Lower 48. The North Ridge concludes with several pitches of 60- to 70-degree alpine ice climbing on an exposed ice cliff with dramatic views of the Roosevelt and Coleman glaciers.

EASTON / COLEMAN DEMING GLACIERS »MOUNT BAKER NORTH RIDGE »

Glacier Peak • 10,541 ft

Glacier Peak Wilderness Area

Named “Dakobed” in the Sauk Indian dialect, Glacier Peak is the most isolated of Washington’s five major volcanoes. Accessed via a 14-mile hike into the Glacier Peak Wilderness, it is an excellent choice for those seeking a more remote mountaineering experience. To approach the standard South Side route, climbers follow a well-maintained trail up the North Fork of the Sauk River through old-growth cedar forest, eventually emerging onto high alpine meadows near White Pass besides the Pacific Crest Trail. The climb itself ascends the Gerdine and Cool glaciers to the summit.

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Mount Adams • 12,280 ft

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Mount Adams is the second highest peak in Washington. Known as “Pahto” and “Klickitat” in local Native American languages, the rugged east side of the mountain lies within the Yakima Indian Reservation. Like many of the major summits of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, Adams is considered an active volcano, although it has not erupted in more than 1,000 years and remains a very popular climbing objective. Like Rainier, its summit is broad and flat. Most climbers approach it in two days via the moderate South Spur Route, which avoids glaciated terrain. Other, more challenging routes include the Adams Glacier and the North Ridge. Thanks to its moderate, crevasse-free terrain, the South Spur is an extremely popular choice for ski mountaineers.

THE OLYMPIC MOUNTAINS

The Olympic Mountains are a cluster of steep peaks on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle. Poised on the edge of the Pacific Ocean directly in the path of prevailing storms, the Olympics receive the equivalent of more than 240 inches of rain every year. Thanks to such abundant precipitation, the tallest collection of peaks in the range, the Mount Olympus Massif, is covered in approximately ten square miles of ice, the third largest glacial system in the Lower 48. Old-growth spruce, hemlock, fir and cedar grow in the lush Hoh Rainforest on the mountains’ western flank, and the whole range is located in Olympic National Park.

Mount Olympus • 7,962 ft

Olympic National Park

At 7,962 feet, Mount Olympus is the highest peak on the Olympic Peninsula. It is one of the most aesthetic mountains in Washington, a remote and peaceful collection of rock pinnacles emerging from a massive ice cap riddled with crevasses and dramatic ice falls. Most climbers approach Mount Olympus via an 18-mile hike through the rainforest of the Hoh River Valley. From a high camp among the beautiful Avalanche Lillies at Glacier Meadows, climbers ascend the Blue Glacier and the Snow Dome to a pitch of alpine rock climbing (low fifth class) that leads to the summit of the West Peak, the mountain’s highest point. From the summit, climbers enjoy views of the rest of the Olympic Mountains, the Cascades, Seattle, and Victoria, B.C.

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Mount Deception • 7,788 ft

Olympic National Park

Nestled deep in an alpine cirque called the Royal Basin, Mount Deception is the second highest peak in the Olympics. With a shorter approach than Mount Olympus, Mount Deception is a relatively accessible climb and an excellent option for a weekend adventure! We approach via the Royal Basin Trail, which starts in coastal old-growth forest at 2,550 feet and ends at our high camp on the shore of an alpine lake at 5,770 feet. The climbing route consists of enjoyable 45-degree snow up the Northeast Chute, then a rocky ridge scramble to the summit.

THE CASCADE PEAKS OF CENTRAL WASHINGTON

The Cascade Mountains in Central Washington include some of the most popular and iconic alpine climbing routes of the entire range. With relatively easy access from Seattle, the peaks clustered near Snoqualmie Pass are an ideal training ground for aspiring mountaineers. They include classic moderate rock climbing terrain on the Tooth, and engaging snow and ice on Chair Peak, among other objectives. Farther east, Mount Stuart rises out of the beautiful Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It may be climbed by numerous routes, including the famous, committing North Ridge.

Mount Stuart • 9,416 ft

Wenatchee National Forest

Located in the popular Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the central region of the North Cascades, Mount Stuart is one the largest single masses of exposed granite in the United States. The most famous route on the mountain is the North Ridge. One of the “50 Classic Climbs of North America,” it features more than 20 pitches of exposed alpine rock climbing with spectacular views of surrounding mountains. Another popular option is the Ice Cliff Glacier Route, a mixed snow and ice climb. Mount Stuart’s quality climbing and relatively easy access make it an appealing objective. “Without a rival as the crown peak in the central Cascades of Washington, (Mount Stuart’s) … northern and eastern faces are the alpine climax of the Wenatchee Mountains. They make a powerful impact on first sight … The mountaineering problems are magnified by the mountain’s massive dimensions and its complexity.” Excerpted from “Cascade Alpine Guide – Climbing and High Routes – Columbia River to Stevens Pass, Second Edition” by Fred Beckey.

The Tooth • 5,604 ft

Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

The South Face Route on the Tooth is a popular alpine rock climb in the Snoqualmie Pass area near Seattle. From Pineapple Pass, 400 feet of steep and blocky climbing lead to an airy catwalk traverse and a final 5.6 section below the summit. From the top, climbers look out across Chair Peak and other high points near Snoqualmie Pass, as well as Mount Stuart and Mount Rainier in the distance.

Snoqualmie Mountain • 6,278 ft

Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

One of the highest points in the Snoqualmie Pass area, this mountain is located directly across from the Alpental Ski Area. The mountain was named for the local Snoqualmie Tribe. In 1890, Albert Sylvester completed the first known ascent with a team of USGS surveyors. Today, most parties ascend moderate alpine terrain on the West Face or choose one of several more challenging routes on the North Face.

Chair Peak • 6,238 ft

Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest

Accessed via a moderate hike that begins at a trailhead less than an hour from downtown Seattle, Chair Peak is a very popular destination for backcountry skiers and alpine climbers. The peak is located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which stretches south to Denny Mountain and Alpental Ski Resort. Most climbers ascend Chair Peak’s Northeast Buttress or North Face. Depending on the season, these routes are alpine rock climbs or feature mixed snow and ice terrain. They are excellent introductions to alpine climbing.