Boston Basin

  • Duration: 2-5 Days
  • Level: Beginner-Advanced
  • Client Ratio: 2:1-4:1
  • Cost:
    • see each peak for rates
  • Included: All meals while on the mountain, tents, stoves, cook kits, group climbing equipment, and guide services.
  • Not Included: Airfare, transportation within Seattle, ground transportation hotel accommodations, restaurant meals, gratuities for guides, and all personal items. A detailed equipment list will be sent to all participants.
Call (206) 799-4092 to book this tour!

Boston Basin is one of the most popular alpine climbing areas in the North Cascades National Park because it accesses to the famed Forbidden Peak, which has been named one of the 50 Classic Climbs in North America. Forbidden Peak is most commonly climbed via the West Ridge. Other excellent climbs nearby include Sahale Peak, Sharkfin Tower, Mount Buckner and Mount Torment. Mount Torment and Forbidden Peak are often climbed via the famed Torment-Forbidden Traverse.

One of favorite mountains to guide since it feels like the Matterhorn of the Pacific Northwest. Forbidden features 3 amazing ridge climbs with the West Ridge featured in the classic book, Fifty Classic Climbs in North America. The North and East Ridges offer a more remote feel and we usually have these routes to ourselves.  These routes can be climbed almost anytime from June through September. Many parties elect to combine their climb of Forbidden with other ascents in the areas such as Sahale Peak, Sharkfin Tower, Mt. Buckner, or Torment to make a 4-5 day stay in Boston Basin.

  • Duration: June 29th-July 1(3 Days)
  • Level: Intermediate-Advanced
  • Client Ratio: 2:1
  • Cost:
    • $1050
  • Included: All meals while on the mountain, tents, stoves, cook kits, group climbing equipment, and guide services.
  • Not Included: Airfare, transportation within Seattle, ground transportation hotel accommodations, restaurant meals, gratuities for guides, and all personal items. A detailed equipment list will be sent to all participants.

Qualifications
For any of the climbs on Forbidden, participants will need to be comfortable climbing rock up to the grade featured on their chosen route as well as be comfortable using ice axe and crampons to climb snow up to 50°. As with any moderate, alpine, technical route, a reasonable level of fitness is required to keep the climb enjoyable and moving along quickly enough to keep things reasonably safe.

Day 1: We will drive about three hours from Seattle into the North Cascades National Park via the Cascade River Road. From the trailhead, we gain 2500′ up a steep, rugged trail into Boston Basin at 5,700 feet. We establish camp adjacent to incredible alpine meadows, enjoy the views, and eat a delicious dinner before climbing into our sleeping bags for a good night’s sleep.

Day 2: Each route entails different approaches taking a full day to complete, see descriptions below listed in order of skill level.

Day 3 Get up, have a leisurely breakfast, break camp, and return to the trailhead.

West Ridge-Beginner
If you do this climb in the early season, when the snow couloir is still in good shape, it is possible to comfortably do this in a long day from car to car. Most groups elect to spend two days climbing the West Ridge with a guide and use the first day for the approach to Boston Basin and the second day to climb the route and exit. This route involves a 3-4 hour hike from the car to camp, a couple hour climb to the West ridge notch, and then 8 pitches of 5th class climbing up to 5.6 on the West Ridge itself. The best sections of the climb are on the ridge crest itself, and the entire route features impressive views down the North side of Forbidden to lonely Moraine Lake, as well as the spectacular North Face of Johannesberg Peak, the Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Peak, and other peaks in the Cascade Pass area.
East Ridge Direct-Intermediate
Of the three ridges we guide on Forbidden Peak, the East Ridge offers the most sustained rock climbing. The climb starts with a several hour approach up the ridges and gullies on the east side of the Unnamed Glacier (oddly its name) below Forbidden Peak, and eventually spits you out near the base of the climb on the East Ridge itself. 6-8 pitches of rock up to 5.8 climb along the ridge crest and traverse both the south and north sides of the ridge bypassing several gendarmes and featuring the same magnificent views seen on the West Ridge. This route is usually done as part of a longer stay in Boston Basin, or as a two-day climb from car to car. For the descent we use either the West Ridge or the East Ledges descent.
North Ridge-Advanced
Of the three climbs we routinely do on Forbidden Peak, the North Ridge is our favorite. The North Ridge is a climb that has it all: a tricky approach over loose Sharkfin Col, a glacier traverse on the massive Boston Glacier ending at the North Ridge, a wild pitch of steep dirt to gain the ridge, and finally 8 pitches of snow or ice up to 50° followed by an thrilling and exposed climb up the low 5th class terrain of the upper North Ridge. The route leads directly to the summit pyramid. This climb is always done in at least 2 days, with most groups bivouacking at the base of the North Ridge on the first night and then reaching the car on the second night. It is completely reasonable to schedule 3 days to give yourself more options, including using the 3rd day to climb something like Sharkfin Tower if you make it to Boston Basin by dark on day 2. If you are only going to climb Forbidden Peak once in your life do the North Ridge.
Sahale Peak rises over 5,500 feet from the parking area along the North Fork of the Cascade River. Many climbers first visit the North Cascades accustomed to evaluating mountains by their height and are a bit surprised to see how arduous peaks like Sahale can be. Over the years we have used Sahale Peak extensively to train people for other glaciated climbs and to give people a quick idea of what the North Cascades has to offer. The view from the top of Sahale Peak is one of the best in Washington.

  • Dates: May 14-15,June 17-18,27-28; July 09-10,30-31; Aug 20-21; Sept 10-11
  • Level: Beginner
  • Client Ratio: 3:1
  • Cost:
    • 2 Days $625
  • Included: All meals while on the mountain, tents, stoves, cook kits, group climbing equipment, and guide services.
  • Not Included: Airfare, transportation within Seattle, ground transportation hotel accommodations, restaurant meals, gratuities for guides, and all personal items. A detailed equipment list will be sent to all participants.
Qualifications
No previous climbing experience required for any of the climbs on Sahale, solid fitness includes the ability to carry over 30 pounds for 3- 4 hours uphill and travel up to 1,200 feet an hour.  The weight of your pack will vary with the quality of your overnight gear.

Day 1: We will drive about three hours from Seattle into the North Cascades National Park via the Cascade River Road. From the trailhead, we gain 2500′ up a steep, rugged trail into Boston Basin at 5,700 feet. We establish camp adjacent to incredible alpine meadows, enjoy the views, and eat a delicious dinner before climbing into our sleeping bags for a good night’s sleep.

Day 2: Each route entails different approaches taking a full day to complete, see descriptions below listed in order of skill level.We then break camp, and return to the trailhead.

Sahale Glacier-Beginner & great 1-2 day objective
The climb of the Sahale Glacier involves a long hike up to Cascade Pass and then up the Sahale Arm to a basecamp at the base of the glacier. Overall the climbing is easier on this side of the mountain due to the quality of the approach trail and a south facing glacier that is has fewer crevasses and is less steep than the Quien Sabe. This is the easiest way to the summit of Sahale Peak.

Quien Sabe Glacier-Beginner and Base Camp for other climbs in Boston Basin
The Quien Sabe is approached via the climbers trail to Boston Basin. A 3-4 hour hike gets us to our base camp for the climb, which can either be located at 5600′ or 6200′, both near a composting toilet and in Boston Basin. The Quien Sabe Glacier is not overly difficult, but does require us to navigate through crevasses, and select a reasonable line, usually near the center of the glacier. The summit ridge involves a combination of 4th class climbing, and ridge traversing ending on the spectacular and very small summit. The Quien Sabe offers an opportunity to practice ice climbing in a crevasse and is also a good location for working on skills such as crevasse rescue, rope travel, and self-arrest.


Itinerary
Most groups elect to take 2 days to climb Sahale Peak. Fit parties might consider trying to climb both Sahale Peak and Sharkfin Tower on day 2 of their climb if on the Quien Sabe Glacier trip. We usually camp in Boston Basin, but have the option of camping up on the Quien Sabe Glacier if planning to do additional training on the glacier.

Sits in the middle of the famous Boston Basin, surrounded by peaks such as Forbidden Peak, Sahale Peak and Mount Torment. The South East Ridge makes for the perfect introductory alpine rock climb or as an addition to one of the other classic climbs in the area. The climb has a good combination of glacier climbing, steep snow, and moderate rock, enabling the climber to put to use many of the skills needed to be a well-rounded Alpinist.

In an area already known for some of the best alpine rock climbing in the Cascades, Sharkfin has what many consider to be the best granite in Washington State. While the climb is relatively short, what it lacks in length, it makes up for in position, exposure and ambiance.

Itinerary
The ascent of Sharkfin Tower is one of the best introductory alpine rock climbs in the North Cascades. The rock is solid, the climbing is moderate and the exposure is impressive. Add to that Sharkfin’s location and you have a great climb by itself or a good addition to other surrounding climbs.

The climb starts from the lower campsites in Boston Basin and consists of a very short glacier, a moderately steep couloir and several pitches of low fifth class climbing. The most dramatic section of the climb is on the upper portions of the tower. After leaving the notch at the base of the rock the route follows near or on the ridge crest for several 5th class pitches. These can be climbed in rock shoes or boots depending on your comfort level. As you gain elevation on the tower the exposure increases but fortunately the climbing eases. The last few pitches to the summit are 4th to low 5th class climbing directly on the ridge crest.

The descent back to camp starts with a bit of down climbing followed by several rappels. You will trace your route back down the couloir, onto the glacier and back to camp. From there you can relax in camp and get ready for your next climb or head back to the valley for a well deserved dinner.

Qualifications
Climbers should know how to belay and rappel and be comfortable on low 5th class rock. If climbers are new to rock climbing we suggest rock shoes for this climb to increase comfort and security, otherwise mountaineering boots are appropriate.

At 9,080 feet, and located in the heart of the North Cascades National Park, Mt. Buckner is one of the most important peaks in the state of Washington and a fine alpine ice climb. It’s glaciers feed one of the largest bodies of ice in the range – the Boston Glacier – and has everything great Cascadian climbs have: a strenuous approach, remoteness, quality climbing, and incredible alpine ambiance.

The North Face is a 40-50 degree snow and ice climb set amidst the splendor of the Cascade Pass region. Great views to Forbidden, Eldorado, Logan, Park Creek Pass, and the peaks of the Ptarmigan Traverse characterize this area. It is a strenuous climb not in its technical nature, but in the effort it takes to get to the route. And unlike some of the bigger faces on the state’s volcanoes like Rainier or Baker, climbers really feel “in the range.” Mt Buckner is one great example of why the North Cascades are nicknamed the “American Alps.” This is complicated, diverse, and classic alpine terrain.

  • Duration: 3 Days
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Client Ratio: 2:1
  • Cost:
    • 3 Days $1050
  • Included: All meals while on the mountain, tents, stoves, cook kits, group climbing equipment, and guide services.
  • Not Included: Airfare, transportation within Seattle, ground transportation hotel accommodations, restaurant meals, gratuities for guides, and all personal items. A detailed equipment list will be sent to all participants.
Itinerary
Day 1: The drive from Seattle to Boston Basin trailhead. Te gain 2,500 feet by climbing up a steep, rugged trail into Boston Basin at 5,700 feet. High camp for a climb of Buckner’s North Face is typically made at either the Boston-Sahale Col or high on the Quien Sabe Glacier below Sharkfin Col. Both these options demand a rest stop at the lower Boston Basin camp and roping up for the easy climb of the Quien Sabe Glacier to either camp.

Day 2: For Sharkfin Col camp – climb up Sharkfin Col (5.7 rock and snow) to a short rappel to the Boston Glacier. For Boston-Sahale Col camp – climb up the mixed snow and rock leading to Boston’s summit where an improbable traverse leads out steep snow and rock and down to the Boston Glacier. The North Face is reached easily in 1-2 hours from the glacier.
The route is 1,300 feet of 40-50 degree snow and ice. We will belay most of this and the climbing will go relatively quickly. This is beautiful and moderate alpine climbing in an outrageous setting. Once on top, most climbers elect to descend the route and return to camp via the approach. A series of rappels, lowers and some down climbing see us back on the Boston Glacier and in camp well before dark. Alternatively, some teams elect to “carry-over” and climb the route with all their gear, descending to the southwest into Horseshoe Basin, over the Sahale Arm and out Cascade Pass.

Day 3: We’ll finish off the descent on our final day and expect to be back in Seattle by mid-afternoon.

Qualifications
Any climb of Mt. Buckner requires participants to have previous climbing experience. Those attempting the North Face or North Face Couloir routes should be efficient at climbing moderate snow and ice and should be able to climb 5.6 comfortably. Additional days can be added to any trip to work on these skills before the climb.

Is located just west of Forbidden Peak and is an excellent one-day outing from Boston Basin. The rock climbing sections on Mount Torment’s Southeast Face are much easier than those found on Forbidden, but Torment is not without its obstacles. A great climb if done by itself, and a much bigger adventure if combined with an ascent of Forbidden Peak’s West Ridge as part of the Torment-Forbidden Traverse.

For climbs of Mount Torment we typically approach via the Boston Basin Climber’s trail, and then hike to the higher of the two climbers camps (this is the one under the Unnamed Glacier on Forbidden Peak). From this camp we traverse west under the spur ridge coming off the Torment-Forbidden Traverse and then ascend rock slabs and finally the glacier before reaching the base of the route. The climbing route follows the path of least resistance to the notch on the east corner of Mount Torment. While not overly difficult, the climbing is interesting and at times steep as we work our way to the summit of Mount Torment.

This is a good outing to combine with ascents of Sahale Peak and Sharkfin Tower as part of a moderate tour of Boston Basin. This is also the usual start of the Torment-Forbidden Traverse. For climbers looking for a more challenging line to the summit of Mt. Torment, we recommend the SE Ridge or climbing Torment in combination with Forbidden Peak via the Torment-Forbidden Traverse (grade IV, 5.7).

Itinerary
Most climbs of Torment are done in combination with other peaks in the area.

Qualifications
Very good physical fitness, solid belaying skills, previous ice axe and crampon experience (unless on course with this training), ability to climb 5.6 quickly, smoothly, and efficiently.

How do you improve upon the already classic Forbidden Peak? By adding an ascent of Mount Torment, and climbing a mile of snow, ice, and rock ridge in between the two peaks! Since its inclusion in Jim Nelson’s “50 Favorite Climbs of North America,” the Torment-Forbidden Traverse (TFT) has become a very sought after and more frequently attempted alpine climb. Consider that in 1958 (after doing their first ascent of Torment’s South Ridge), Ed Cooper and Walt Sellers intentionally bivouacked without overnight gear in order to get the first ascent of this classic climb.
Dominating the terrain high above Boston Basin, the TFT has everything all great technical traverses have – iconic and aesthetic peaks, a high level of commitment, and fun, engaging climbing. Our 3-day trip goes up the Taboo Glacier, climbs Torment’s South Ridge then descends to the long ridge that ultimately connects to Forbidden’s famed West Ridge route. Numerous ridge features to climb, steep sections of glacier snow and ice, and fantastic positions on sound rock characterize the traverse. Join us on one of the North Cascades National Park’s best routes!


Itinerary

Day 1: The drive from Seattle to the town of Marblemount (gateway to the North Cascades National Park) takes about 2.5 hours. From there, the Cascade River Road provides great access to the peaks that surround Cascade Pass and the famed Boston Basin – home to Torment, Sahale, Sharkfin and Forbidden Peaks. After leaving the trailhead, we gain 2,500 feet by climbing up a steep, rugged trail into Boston Basin at 5,700 feet. Camp is made on pleasant benches beneath the Taboo Glacier and Torment’s South Ridge route. The entire central section of the traverses looms overhead!

Day 2: With an alpine start we navigate the gentle Taboo glacier and climb up a short snow couloir to gain the South Ridge Route on Mount Torment. From here we climb some of the nicest, most solid pitches of the route until the central section of the peak is reached, and we begin easy traversing on ledges to the large summit area. Broken 4th and easy 5th class climbing brings us to Torment’s summit where the entire TFT comes into view! This gives us the first vantage point of the snow and ice sections of the traverse, and allows us to plot our route ahead. A few rappels, lowers, and some down-climbing on the East Ridge drop us into a prominent notch above the Forbidden Glacier. The remainder of the afternoon is spent climbing the first half of the central traverse until darkness brings us to one of the most classic bivouac spots in the North Cascades.

Day 3: On our final day we get to enjoy the second half of the central section of the TFT which has been likened to a great “sidewalk in the sky.” In no time, we connect with the West Ridge of Forbidden, and the day keeps getting better and better – up the solid and easy beginning section, through the crux 5.6 corner, along the knife edges of the upper ridge, and finally, up the last gendarme that guards the summit. Gazing back at the entire length of the TFT is something any climber will cherish for a lifetime – especially if you just climbed the entire thing! Descent is made down the West Ridge, back into Boston Basin, and down the approach trail. Expect to be at the trailhead by dark and in Seattle by mid-evening.

Qualifications
Very good physical fitness, solid belaying skills, previous ice axe and crampon experience (unless on course with this training), ability to climb 5.6 quickly, smoothly, and efficiently.