Private and Custom Trips

Ideas for Private Climbs in the North Cascades

Moderate Alpine Rock

The Tooth – South Face

Season – May through October

Time for climb – one day

Difficulty – moderate multi pitch rock climbing

Max Guide/Climber ratio 2:1

Open to all climbers with rock climbing experience

The Tooth is well known to local Seattle climbers for its easy access, solid alpine rock and fun character. This route is a very fun, one day climb that is a good choice for someone on a limited schedule. Perched above Source Lake in the Alpental valley, the Tooth offers 3 or 4 pitches of pleasant (5.4) sun warmed rock.

 

Sloan Peak – Corkscrew Route

Season – June through September

Time for climb – 3 days

Difficulty – 4 th class scrambling with glacier travel

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 3:1

Open to all course graduates

Known locally as the “ Matterhorn of the NW”, Sloan stands proud above the surrounding peaks of the Jackson wilderness area. Sloan is easily identified from most peaks in the cascades due to its unique shape and steep walls. These steep walls are one of the reasons that this peak demands to be climbed. This corkscrew route winds it ways around on gentle ledges to avoid the steep rock and achieve a special summit. This is a great peak for someone with limited rock climbing experience but a desire to summit a beautiful peak. The approach includes several stream crossings, dense forest and open alpine slopes, a classic cascade adventure.

 

Sharkfin Tower

Season – June through September

Time for climb – two days (or make it a part of a longer expedition)

Difficulty – low fifth class for several rope lengths, steep snow till mid season, glacier travel

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 2:1

Open to climbers who have some rock climbing experience

Boston Basin is well known for some of the best alpine climbs in the north Cascades National Park, if not all America. Sharkfin is one of the reasons for this. This tower is made of solid granite for quality climbing. The Sharkfin tower sits in the middle of the Boston Basin with great views of beautiful peaks such as Forbidden, Sahale Peak, Mt. Buckner, El Dorado Peak, Boston Peak as well as much of the rest of the North Cascades.

From the camp in Boston Basin, we travel on the Quien Sabe glacier till below the Sharkfin tower. Then we need to climb up steep snow in a gully to get to the tower. Three rope lengths of 5.0 rock climbing gets us to the sharp summit.

 

Difficult Alpine Rock

While many of these trips require a 13-Day or Rock Course completion, people without this background can add 2 days of rock climbing on there trip to acquire the necessary rock skills.

 

Forbidden Peak – West ridge

Season – June through August

Time for climb – 3 days

Difficulty – glacier travel, steep snow, mid 5 th class rock climbing

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 2:1

Open to 13 day or rock course graduates

Forbidden peak is the crown jewel of the excellent Boston Basin area. This peak’s alpine rock is the standard for which other peaks are measured against. This stunning peak has three airy ridges radiating outwards and each is a classic route. The west ridge is the best of the three and is a member of the coveted “50 classics of North America”. Fun climbing on solid granite coupled with extraordinary views and wild exposure make this a summit that is unforgettable.

The summit requires a variety of skills and the challenges are diverse. We start out with a short glacier walk to where the real climbing begins. A steep (45 degree) gully climbs up to a saddle and the start of the west ridge. There are about 8 rope lengths of moderate rock climbing along the airy ridge before we can sit on the small summit.

 

Triumph – NE ridge

Season – July through September

Time for climb – 3 or 4 days

Difficulty – moderate alpine multi-pitch rock, some steep snow traverses, strenuous approach

Max Guide/Climber ratio 2:1

Open to 13-Day or Rock Course graduates

A true gem of the North Cascades, Mt Triumph is one of the steepest mountains in the area. But the difficulty of the climb is only one reason to venture here as the views are unbelievable. One looks into the heart of the dramatic Picket range which is arguably the most remote place left in the lower 48. Deep valleys, tall spires, and untracked land surround Triumph. At night, not a single light can be seen. A truly wild place.

The approach is strenuous (yet reasonable for the typically hard to get to Picket Range) and guards this mountain from the masses. There is a nice trail for 5.5 miles and 2200 feet of vertical gain to Thorton Lake. After the lake, there is about 1300 feet of vertical gain and 2 miles of cross country travel in forest, bush, talus, grass, then heather to get us to the saddle and bivi camp that sits across from Mt Triumph. While the lengths may seem short, expect a full day to make the bivi. Some may want to split the approach up into 2 separate days, one to Thorton Lake and the other to the saddle.

The summit day is done by traversing over the unnamed glacier towards the saddle on the NE ridge. The straight forward ridge climb is of good quality, sometimes exposed, moderate rock climbing (5.6) to the distinctive summit. It is a summit you will not soon forget.

 

Basic Glacier/ Mountain Travel

All these trips can be done for people with no experience but you will need one day extra to learn the minimum skills to climb the mountain.

 

Mt. Daniel – Daniel Glacier

Season –May through September

Time for climb – 2 days

Difficulty – moderate glacier travel

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 4:1

Open to all

Mt Daniels is a great introduction to climbing in the cascades. It sits in the central cascades and tends to be drier than the mountains to the north. A short day approach is via nice trails that pass by the towering Cathedral Rock. We camp by the pretty Peggy’s Pond between Mt Daniel and Cathedral Rock. Summit day consists of some above treeline cross country travel, easy glacier touring, and winding our way around the east and middle peaks and the way to the higher west summit of Daniels. This true summit has great views of the massive Mt. Stuart and Mt. Rainier.

 

Sahale Peak – Quien Sabe Glacier

Season – May through September

Time for climb – 2 days

Difficulty – mostly moderate glacier, class 4 rock

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 4:1

Open to all course graduates

Sahale Peak is a sharp pyramidal peak and the easiest peak to climb in the stunning Boston Basin area. The approach will take us through old growth forests and swath of destruction from a massive snow avalanche in the winter of 2002. The camp is above treeline and has stupendous views of all the Boston Basin peaks ( Boston, Sharkfin, Forbidden and Sahale) as well as the massive Mt Johannesburg (complete with 4500 vertical feet face, many hanging glaciers and frequent snow/ice avalanches). With such demanding peaks around, Sahale is a splendid outing of moderate difficulty. A fine adventure indeed.

 

El Dorado Peak – East Ridge

Season – May through September

Time for climb – 2 days

Difficulty – glacier travel, steep snow ridge, strenuous approach

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 4:1

Open to all course graduates

El Dorado Peak is a memorable high peak rising out of a large ice sheet. This ice sheet is easily in the top 5 for the best views for the North Cascade National park due to in part by surrounding peaks such as Forbidden, Torment, and Klawatti. Like anything worthy, this sacred place is guarded by a difficult approach consisting of a stream crossing, steep old growth forests, boulder fields and a ridge crossing to set foot on the glacier. While a camp in the ice sheet is desirable, some groups may opt to camp at one of the many option before then. The summit day consists of a gentle glacier and snow slopes leading to the fantastic final summit ridge which is steep and exposed on both sides. Climbing the knife ridge rewards climbers with memories and further stunning views of peaks such as Dorado Needle, Early Morning Spire and Mt. Goode.

 

Mt. Shuksan – Sulphide Glacier

Season - June through September

Time for climb – 2 days

Difficulty – glacier travel, low 5 th class rock climbing

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 2:1

Open to all course graduates

One of the most photographed mountains in the states, Shuksan is truly a beautiful mountain. Shuksan is a massive and complex mountain with many various faces. There are steep northern faces with hanging glaciers, tall towers of dark imposing rock and a gentle glacier climb up the Sulphide glacier. The Sulphide glacier is a great introduction as well as refresher for glacier travel skills with the added challenge of an 800 foot rock summit pyramid to add spice to the trip. Class 4 climbing gets the climbers to the top of the rugged peak.

 

Mount Baker - Easton Glacier

Season – June through September

Time for climb – 2 or 3 days

Difficulty – glacier travel, short stretches of low angle ice in late season

Max Guide/Climber ratio 2 day schedule - Open to all course graduates

3 day schedule – open to everyone

Mt Baker (Kulshan by Native American language) is the third highest volcano in the cascades but has the highest percentage of glacier coverage than any other peak around. Being about 30 miles from the ocean allows for the winter storms to batter this peak and create some of highest snowfalls ever recorded. In fact, the world’s highest recorded snowfall fell between Baker and Mt. Shuksan in the late 90’s. All this snowfall has created one of the most interesting glacier climbs around, complete with large icefalls and monstrous crevasses.

Our trip starts with an approach on nice trails in the woods and above treeline along a lateral moraine with a splendid view of the Easton glacier. We can camp at various places depending upon the energy level of the group, but all spots have one thing in common, a great view of the mountain (Mt Baker, Black Buttes and the Twin Sisters) and the Puget Sound. Our summit day starts with a very early start and traveling on the glacier by headlamp. We navigate through the sometimes very complicated glacier to the active crater which spews steam and sulphur on a regular basis. Then we tackle the steepest part of the route, the Roman Wall, which is about 30 degree snow and in late season has some low angle ice. Then to top it off, one of the best views in all the cascades from the summit. One can gaze into the heart of the North Cascades National Park, the most remote and wild place remaining in the lower 48 and host of many more adventures in the future.

 

More Advanced Glacier/Mountain & Alpine Ice

Mt. Shuksan – Fischer Chimneys

Season – July through September

Time for climb – 3 days

Difficulty – fifth and fourth class rock, steep ice/snow, glacier travel.

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 2:1

Open to 13-Day or 6-Day Course graduates

Often overlooked, but appreciated much by locals, Fischer Chimneys offers up a challenging route requiring a huge array of skills. Terrain covered on this route is varied including; fourth class rock, 35 degree ice, glaciers (some if which is very crevassed and convoluted) and the final summit pyramid. The summit pyramid is summated by 900 vertical feet of low fifth class climbing. The summit day is long but the reward is huge.

 

Glacier Peak – Frostbite Ridge

Season – June through September

Time for climb – 3 or 4 days (Depending on Access Availability)

Difficulty - steep snow and/or ice (50 degrees), glacier travel, rock scrambling

Max Guide/Climber ratio – 2:1

Open to 13-Day or 6-Day Course and Ice Course graduates

While being the 4th highest volcano, Glacier Peak is the most remote, wild and untraveled in the state. The long approach into the Glacier Peak Wilderness area keeps any ascent of Glacier Peak a true adventure. For the Cascades, this is the least visited volcano and most of the ascents are via the Sitkim Glacier route. The Frostbite ridge is guarded by a tougher approach, more glacier travel (crossing over 5 glaciers) and the presence of steeper ground which in later season is ice. Guides have reported that in late season, there about 8 rope lengths or more of hard ice along the final ridge. Students with average endurance may want to spend 2 days on the approach to enjoy the scenery and enjoy the strenuous summit day.

 

Mt.Adams – Adams Glacier

Season – May through early July

Time for climb – 3 days for climb and 1 day of ice and other skills

Difficulty – glacier travel, steep snow and ice, altitude.

Max Guide/Climber ratio 2:1

Open to people who are solid in skills taught during the 13-Day or 6-Day Course and Ice Course courses

Good fitness and endurance is a must for speed is safety and there are few places to take full rests safely so climbing for 2 hours straight is a possibility.

Adams, at 12,276 ft, is second in height to Rainier which lies a short distance to the north. This majestic hulk of a mountain (almost the same mass as Rainier) is centrally located in southern Washington with great views of Rainier, the Goat Rocks (an ancient volcano that used to be taller than Rainier before succumbing to its own violent forces), St. Helens, and from the summit one can see into the Oregon cascades as well.

The Adams Glacier is easily the best route on the mountain. The glacier forms on the summit dome and then pours down into a large bowl, cascading again down a steep slope to the base and then fanning out to a large plain for a total of 3 miles and 5000 vertical feet of drop. The steepest parts of the glacier carve their way through steep rock walls and averages in angle between 20 and 45 degrees. The climbing will involve long stretches of steep snow with front pointing and diagonal stride, several short ice steps, running belays, crevasse jumping to get to the crux of the climb, the upper bergschrund at 10,600 ft. Crossing this portion will vary year by year, but it will be a memorable experience. Another hour or so of classic glacier walking gets climbers to the summit plateau. The Adams Glacier Route is a very rewarding technical glacier route. Having done Rainier is a good stepping stone for this challenging route.

 

Mt Baker – North Ridge

Season – July and August

Time for climb – 4 days

Difficulty – ice steps to 80 degrees, lots 20-30 degree snow, glacier travel

Max Guide/Climber ratio 2:1

Open to 13-Day and Ice Course graduates

Arguably the best technical snow and ice climb in Washington. The North Ridge is a big route comprised of a complicated approach on the heavily crevassed Coleman glacier, steep snow for thousands of feet, some steep ice steps to get over a serac and then dealing with the upper bergschrund. We descend down the Coleman-Deming route for a traverse of the mountain back to camp. This is a committing climb but the rewards are high, views are excellent and the memory will last forever. People wishing to participate in this climb must have taken the long ice course and be willing for the hard work that this route demands. Itinerary; camp on first day, review ice climbing in some seracs on the second, climb on the third day (long day), hike out on the fourth.

 

Longer trips

Classics of Boston Basin – Boston Basin is a veritable alpine climber’s playground. This area hosts fine granite peaks with varying technical demands and a fun glacier / scramble climb. Spend 4 or 5 days in this wonderful basin and climb 3 of the best routes in the area. From one camp, you can do a glacier climb up Sahale Peak, alpine rock of Sharkfin Tower and west ridge of Forbidden Peak. (all detailed above)

Open to 13-Day and Rock Course graduates.

Traverses –

Torment-Forbidden Traverse

Season- June through August
Time for climb- 4 days
Difficulty- glacier travel, steep snow, mid 5th class rock climbing, very long days
Max Guide/Client ratio- 1:1
Open to 13-Day and Rock Course graduates. + 6-Day graduates.

Take the crown jewel of the Boston Basin area and add more of the same sound rock and exposed ridgeline. The Torment-Forbidden Traverse has quickly become a North Cascades classic with the Northwest’s Jim Nelson contributing it to the well known compilation “50 Favorite Climbs of North America”. The route is on sound granite with beautiful views and lots of exposure both on the rock and snow/ice sections.

The traverse requires that climbers utilize a wide range of alpine skills making it a true mountaineer’s outing of committing nature. Steep and exposed snow and rock are encountered but with manageable technical difficulty. The route begins by approaching to the south ridge of Mt. Torment. After ascending Mt. Torment the route then drops to a low notch to gain the ridgeline that spans towards Forbidden. The route continues along the ridgeline dropping at times to steep snow/ice and eventually joins the west ridge of Forbidden (see previous). The are several descent options.

Ptarmigan traverse

Inspiration McAlister Klawatti ice cap

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