PRICE

West Ridge – $995 (advanced) 2:1 ratio
Inquire for private climb rates

SCHEDULE

July 31 – August 2, 2020

DETAILS

Grade: Advanced
3 Day Climb

 
 
 

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OVERVIEW

At 8,815 feet, Forbidden Peak rises high above the spectacular Boston Basin in the heart of North Cascades National Park. A variety of challenging and spectacular routes lead to its summit, but Forbidden Peak is most often climbed via the West Ridge, one of North America’s “50 Classic Climbs.” With its beautiful approach through lush old-growth forest and airy, enjoyable, 5th class climbing amid incredible views of Sahale Peak, Eldorado Peak, Boston Peak, Mount Torment and other mountains, Forbidden Peak is an excellent choice for aspiring alpinists who want to hone their skills on more advanced terrain.

West Ridge via Boston Basin • 3 Day Ascent

Listed in Steve Roper and Allen Steck’s famous book, “The 50 Classic Climbs of North America,” Forbidden Peak’s West Ridge is one of the most sought-after alpine rock routes in the Pacific Northwest. Accessed from the beautiful Cascade River Road, climbers approach the route via a 4-hour hike to a high camp in Boston Basin. From high camp, a steep snow gully leads to the ridge crest. From there, eight pitches of mid-5th class climbing lead to the summit. Along the way, climbers enjoy impressive views down the north side of Forbidden Peak to lonely Moraine Lake, of the spectacular North Face of Mount Johannesberg, and of Sahale Peak’s Quien Sabe Glacier and other peaks of the Cascade Pass area.

Boston Basin Approach

  • Approach Time to Camp: 3-4 hours
  • Distance: 3-4 miles, 3200 ft. gain
  • Trailhead: Boston Basin Climbers Path, 3200 ft.
  • High Camp: 6400 ft.
  • Camp to Summit: 4 to 5 hours, 1,715 ft. gain
  • Trail synopsis: From Cascade River Road, we follow an abandoned road for one mile to an old mine site, then continue up a climbers’ path across four stream crossings until we emerge above tree line at 5,300 feet into Boston Basin. We choose between a variety of campsites in the basin below 6,400 feet.

Classic Routes in Boston Basin

Forbidden Peak East Ridge

Of the three ridges we guide on Forbidden Peak, the East Ridge offers the most difficult and sustained rock climbing. To reach the base of the route, we hike for several hours up ridges and gullies on the east side of the inaccurately named Unnamed Glacier, directly below Forbidden Peak. From a notch on the East Ridge, we climb 6 to 8 pitches (up to 5.8) on the ridgecrest and on both sides of the ridge while bypassing several gendarmes. We descend either the West Ridge or the East Ledges. Like the West Ridge, this route features amazing views. It is usually completed as part of a longer stay in Boston Basin.

Forbidden Peak North Ridge

The North Ridge has it all: a tricky approach over loose scree on the Sharkfin Col, a traverse of the massive Boston Glacier and 8 pitches of steep snow, ice and 5th class rock to gain Forbidden Peak’s thrilling and exposed summit pyramid. Few groups can complete this route in fewer than 3 days. Most parties bivouac at the base of the North Ridge on their first night, then traverse the summit and descend back into Boston Basin on Day 2 and return to the trailhead on Day 3.

Sharkfin Tower South East Ridge

Sharkfin Tower rises above the famous Boston Basin between Forbidden Peak and Sahale Mountain. The Southeast Ridge can be ascended as an excellent introduction to alpine rock climbing, or can be combined with an ascent of another peak in the area as part of a longer itinerary. This route features a combination of glacier travel, steep snow and moderate rock, allowing climbers to practice many of the skills of a well-rounded alpinist.

Climb Highlights

  • Enjoy a Northwest Alpine Guides adventure and summit a beautiful peak in the heart of North Cascades National Park.
  • Climb 5th class alpine rock up the spectacular West Ridge to summit of Forbidden Peak.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Hike to High Camp
Day 2 • Summit Day
Day 3 • Hike to Trailhead

2 to 1 Climber to Guide Ratio

We lead the Forbidden Peak route at a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio to ensure that you receive personal attention and hands-on instruction throughout the climb.

Northwest Alpine Guides is an authorized outfitter guide service within North Cascades National Park

ITINERARY

Climb begins and ends in North Cascades National Park

Plan to arrive the day before the climb begins.

Day 1 • Hike to High Camp • 6,400 feet

Meet at our Guide Hut in Sedro-Woolley, WA.

Northwest Alpine Guides will provide you with a detailed PreClimb departure book upon registration including a gear list specific to your trip, meeting location and driving directions.

Our alpine guides will meet you for team introductions, gear check, and group gear distribution. The drive to Boston Basin Trailhead at 3,200 feet takes approximately two hours.

The hike to high camp takes 3 to 4 hours. We ascend a steep trail through old-growth forest with a series of creek crossings and then emerge above tree line into Boston Basin. We establish our high camp at 6,400 feet in the upper basin below a pocket glacier that provides access to the West Ridge Route.

Once in high camp, our guides will teach a one-hour climbing skills refresher. Each team member will be assessed throughout the mountaineering instruction. You will need to demonstrate adequate fitness and proficiency in climbing skills as your safety is our priority.

We return to camp, where we enjoy dinner and go to bed early in preparation for the next day’s climb.

Vertical Gain Hiking: 3,200 feet
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Accommodations: Tented Camp

Day 2 • Summit Day • Forbidden Peak • 8,115 feet

Our summit day starts early with a pre-dawn alpine start. From Boston Basin high camp, we cross the Unnamed Glacier under the sheer South Face of Forbidden Peak. We ascend 500 vertical feet into the West Ridge Couloir, then climb steep, 40- to 50-degree snow, ice and low-5th class rock to a notch on the West Ridge. We follow the exposed crest of the ridge on mostly solid rock via ledges and cracks, avoiding difficulties by traversing onto the north side of ridge. On the summit, we enjoy the view and celebrate our success, then descend our climbing route and rappel down the couloir to the edge of the glacier. We return to high camp for some well-deserved rest and dinner.

Vertical Gain Climbing: 1,700 feet
Climbing Time: 7-10 hours

Accommodations: Tented Camp

Day 3 • Hike to Trailhead

After enjoying breakfast, we break camp, pack our gear and retrace our steps back to the trailhead. We generally arrive back at our cars by early-afternoon and conclude our adventure in Sedro-Woolley.

Vertical Descent Hiking: 3,200 feet
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours

Plan to depart the day after the climb ends.

Itinerary Notes
Northwest Alpine Guides makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner

DETAILS

Where to Meet

At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of the climb, we meet in Sedro-Woolley, WA, for an equipment check and orientation before driving to the trailhead. We will email you detailed PreClimb information including a gear list and full departure details upon receiving your registration.

Deposit and Payments

  • $500.00 deposit includes a $250.00 non-refundable registration fee, due with application.
  • Balance due 120 days prior to start date.
  • The balance can be paid by check, or credit card.

Price Includes

  • Guided climb and instruction
  • Boiled water for meals
  • Professional mountain guide
  • Group equipment (including tents, ropes, stoves, etc.)
  • Wilderness Permits

Price Does Not Include

  • Transportation
  • Trailhead parking fees (Northwest Forest Pass)
  • Meals and snack food
  • Personal gear
  • Hotels or lodging
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Staff gratuities

Guides

Our instructors are highly skilled professional guides who have been selected based on their technical proficiency, proven safety records, careful judgment, patience, and supportive teaching styles. They are dedicated to a climbing lifestyle, and collectively have climbed throughout the earth’s major mountain ranges. Our guides are friendly, very willing to share their own experiences, and can help you develop a plan to achieve your own climbing ambitions. All our guides carry current certification in wilderness first aid.

Tipping

Our guides are dedicated mountain professionals who work hard to ensure your success and wellbeing on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Tips normally average 10 – 20% of the cost of the program. If you prefer to transfer funds electronically, please send gratuities through paypal.me/mountaingurus

Summit Attempt

Northwest Alpine Guides cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe. You or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a team member’s own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not NWAG responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.

Age Guidelines

Participants age 16 & 17: May participate in fixed-date group itineraries if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Participants age 15 and younger: May only participate in private climbs and must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

All minor climbers must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian throughout the entirety of the program. If either the minor climber or the guardian needs to descend at any time during the program, both climbers must descend together.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend that all participants consider travel and trip cancellation insurance. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or while traveling. Northwest Alpine Guides does not insure you against these risks. For more info about current coverage plans and quotes please visit.

Global Rescue

We recommend Signature Travel Insurance.
For travel insurance or Global Rescue membership.
Click here for a quote

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance

For travel, evacuation and rescue coverage.
Click here for a quote

Date Changes

Date changes may be requested at any time up to 45 days prior to your departure date for a $150.00 fee per person. Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. No date changes allowed less than 45 days before departure.

Cancellations

Since departures require a minimum number of participants, Northwest Alpine Guides must adhere to a stringent refund policy. The policy is intended to protect participants who have otherwise committed time and resources to the departure. Please read our Online Reservation for Terms and Conditions.

MEALS

You will need to provide all of your own meals during the Forbidden Peak 3-Day ClimbYou will need two (2) breakfasts, enough lunch and snack food for three (3) days, and two (2) dinners. Northwest Alpine Guides will provide the group with hot cooking water for breakfast and dinner. 

Meal Schedule

Day 1: Lunch & snacks for hike from trailhead to high camp, Dinner
Three or four 15-minute lunch & snack breaks during the hike to high camp. Dinner in high camp.

Day 2: Alpine Breakfast, Lunch & snacks for climb to summit, Dinner
Four 15-minute snack breaks on the ascent from high camp to summit, two or three 15-minute snack breaks on the descent from summit to high camp. Dinner in high camp.

Day 3: Breakfast. Snack and lunch food for the descent to trailhead

Mountain Lunches

We recommend that you bring a variety of snack food to eat while moving. On each day, we will encourage you to eat at regular, short maintenance breaks, roughly once every hour. These snacks can be critical for maintaining a steady supply of energy while moving up and down the mountain. We will not stop for a big lunch break.

Some examples of snack foods include dried meats (salami), jerky (turkey, beef, fish), tuna fish, cheese, crackers, bagels, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, candy bars, gummy candy, cookies, energy bars and trail mix.

We cannot overstate how critical it is for you to bring foods that you enjoy eating. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength in the mountains. We recommend a selection of sweet, sour and salty food.

When preparing lunches, please do not bring food items that require cooking or extensive preparation.

Mountain Breakfasts and Dinners

Please prepare your meals prior to your climb. Suggested food items:

Alpine Breakfast: Instant oatmeal, Pop Tarts, dried fruit, granola bars, bagels, peanut butter, cream cheese.

Dinner: Freeze-dried dinners are easy to prepare but do not always taste good and may affect your stomach. Instant noodle soups and rice are also popular. You may also consider bringing a cold meal of dried meat, bread, pizza, or sandwiches.

Hot Drinks: Coffee, Caffeinated Tea, Herbal Tea, Cocoa, Cider

Cold drinking water will be available in high camp. Hot, boiled cooking water will be provided for your meal preparation, for example for freeze-dried dinners, instant soups, instant oatmeal and hot drinks.

When preparing meals, please do not bring food items that require extensive cooking or other preparation.

TRAVEL

Getting There

At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of the climb, we meet at the Guide Hut in Sedro-Woolley, WA for equipment check and orientation before heading to the trailhead. Upon receiving your registration, Northwest Alpine Guides will email you complete PreClimb information, including a gear list specific to your itinerary and other departure details.

The small town of Sedro-Woolley, “The Gateway to the North Cascades,” is approximately 70 miles and a 1.5-hour drive from Seattle or Bellevue. Limited services are available in Sedro-Woolley. More extensive food, shopping and lodging options may be found nearby in the cities of Mount Vernon and Burlington.

The Guide Hut / Northwest Alpine Guides
305 F And S Grade Road
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Click here for directions
Parking can be found across the street in the Park & Ride lot.

We sell a selection of basic mountaineering equipment in our Sedro-Woolley location. Following the gear check and orientation you will have an opportunity to stop at a market for other last-minute items.

The Guide Hut

On the day of your climb, you will meet your guides at the Guide Hut for group orientation and gear check. For participants on our 3-day and 5-day mountaineering courses, the Guide Hut opens on Thursday afternoons from 4-6 p.m. the day before the climb, and on Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. the day of the climb. For participants on other 2-day and 3-day climbing itineraries please refer to your PreClimb registration email for exact meeting times and location.

During open hours at the Guide Hut, you will have an opportunity to pick up pre-reserved rental items, try on boots, and purchase last-minute items prior to driving to the trailhead. The Guide Hut offers a selection of retail items such as outdoor clothing, glacier sunglasses, gloves, water bottles, cups, bowls, spoons, sunscreen, carabiners, climbing cord, waste kits, mole skin, batteries, freeze-dried foods, as well as NWAG logo wear. Visit the Guide Hut online store for available merchandise.

The Guide Hut serves Northwest Alpine Guides climbing customers only. It is not open to the public, and does not serve customers outside of scheduled operating hours.

Flight Travel

Most climbers will fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) the evening before the program and rent a car for the hour and forty-five minute drive to Sedro Woolley, Washington. Please note that Seattle traffic is worsening and driving times from Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport may be significantly longer.

Our Northwest programs begin at the date, time and meeting location listed in the itinerary in your PreClimb Information. Meeting locations may vary depending on program destination. Climbers flying to Washington State must arrive the day before their program begins in order the meet the group for an early morning gear check and orientation. Return times on the final day of the program are difficult to predict. We strongly recommend that climbers book a hotel night following the final day of their itinerary and schedule departure flights on the following day. If departing on the last day of the program, we recommend booking a flight later than 10 pm.

Transportation

Transportation between the meeting location and the trailhead is not included in the price of the trip. Guides are not responsible for providing transportation to team members. We serve both local and out-of-town climbers in our Northwest programs, and many of our guests prefer to use their own vehicles. Team members are free to organize rideshares with other team members. With your permission, our office staff can share your name and contact information with other team members so that you can organize ridesharing. The NWAG office does not coordinate ridesharing or carpooling and we are unable to share customer or guide contact information due to privacy concerns. In rare cases, Northwest Alpine Guides staff may provide limited transportation between the trailhead and Sedro-Woolley / Seattle / Bellevue as a fee service.

Trailhead Parking

You will need to obtain a NW Forest Pass or equivalent parking permit to leave your car at the trailhead lot. Single-use passes are $5.00 per day. They can be purchased in advance or the day of the gear check. A National Parks pass may suffice.

Driving Directions

From Seattle

Take I-5 North towards Burlington to Cook Road in Skagit County.
Take exit 232 from I-5 N

Turn right onto Cook Road, Head East to Sedro-Woolley
Follow Cook Road to Borseth Road in Sedro-Woolley, 7 min (4.3 mi)

At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit and onto Borseth Road
Turn left onto F & S Grade Road

The NWAG Guide Hut is the first building on your left

From Bellingham

Take I-5 South towards Burlington to Cook Road in Skagit County.
Take exit 232 from I-5 S

Follow Cook Road to Borseth Road in Sedro-Woolley, 7 min (4.3 mi)
Turn left onto F & S Grade Road

The NWAG Guide Hut is the first building on your left

From Burlington

From State Highway 20 East, at the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto Cook Road (after the Walgreens)

Follow Cook Road to Borseth Road in Sedro-Woolley, 7 min (4.3 mi)
Turn left onto F&S Grade Road

The NWAG Guide Hut is the first building on your left

Hotels

Lodging in Burlington and Sedro-Woolley, Washington. For those who wish to lodge close to the meeting location the night before the climb, the following options are recommended.

Three Rivers Inn Hotel
210 Ball Street
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Burlington
9384 Old Hwy 99 North
Burlington, WA 98233

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Burlington
1670 S Burlington Blvd
Burlington, WA 98233

There are many hotel choices in Seattle, Bellevue and Issaquah.

Red Lion Hotel Bellevue
11211 Main Street
Bellevue, WA 98004

Motel 6 Seattle East Issaquah
1885 15th Pl NW
Issaquah, WA 98027

Mountain Weather

For updated North Cascades weather forecasts, click here.