"Forbidden Peak was an outstanding trip for Sonya and I. We really appreciate all the hard work you put into our expeditions with you. Thanks again for everything."
Forbidden Peak Climb July 2011
Visit our blog page to read a narrative of a July 2011 Forbidden Peak climb.
Exceptional program design
All of our programs match your skill level and interests to one of the classic alpine climbing destinations in the North Cascades. Some of the areas we commonly visit include Eldorado Peak, Forbidden Peak, Sharkfin Tower, Sahale Peak, and Mt. Shuksan. We will teach you fundamental alpine climbing skills and practical mountain judgment while having a blast on some of the most classic alpine climbs in the region! On top of that, we are scrupulous about logistics to make sure your program runs seamlessly from start to finish.
Learn fundamental skills and practical mountain judgment
While we design programs on a case-by-case basis, generally speaking you will finish your trip with a functional understanding of route planning and navigation, basic glaciology, ropework and knots, footwork and crampon use, self arrest and ice axe use, glacier rope-team travel, crevasse rescue, Leave No Trace, and alpine camping. For those seeking to expand their mountaineering skills we can create advanced programs that include alpine rock climbing; steep snow and ice climbing; anchor building for rock, snow, and ice; strategies and techniques for technical lead climbing; and alpine decision-making skills for team leadership. Please let us know what your interests are and we will design the perfect program to help you achieve your goals.
Powerful educational opportunities
Many of our guides honed their skills and alpine judgment in this range. As such, we know the terrain intimately and we believe strongly in the educational opportunities that exist here. Contact us to discuss the possibilities for your climbing development in this superb location.
4-day Introduction to Alpine Climbing & Mt. Shuksan Climb Sample Itinerary:
The evening before your trip:
Your guide will meet you at your hotel for introductions and a warm welcome to the Cascades! Together you will do a gear check to make sure everything is ready for the mountains. By having this “pre-trip meeting” the night before your program begins we still have time to pick up any last minute items if necessary. After the gear check your guide will introduce you to packing techniques to make your backpack balanced and comfortable on the trail. You will also look at the maps and route plans for the trip so you can learn how to use these tools for your own trip planning in the future.
We will drive about 2 1/2 hours to the trailhead where we'll embark on our big adventure. After looking at the maps to understand the route, we follow a beautiful approach through old-growth Hemlock forest that takes us to the stunning Shannon Ridge with panoramic views of Mt. Baker and the North Cascades. We follow the ridge to the lower Sulphide Glacier where we may utilize crampons to reach our camp location on the glacier. After ascending the lower flanks of the glacier we'll arrive at a large flat area where we will discuss campsite selection and basic glaciology. After selecting a safe campsite with good views we'll make dinner and settle in for the night.
Today we will learn and practice a variety of fundamental mountaineering skills. Utilizing the excellent terrain on the glacier next to camp, we will introduce you to the proper techniques for walking in crampons, self arrest and ice axe use, glacier rope-team travel, and crevasse rescue. Your guide will describe and demonstrate these techniques, and then you will have the opportunity to practice each technique with the oversight and feedback of your guide. With ample time for practice, and the personalized coaching described above, you should have a strong grasp of these techniques to serve you well in future climbing endeavors. After our day on the glacier we'll go back to camp to create a route plan using map, compass, and GPS for tomorrow's summit attempt.
We'll wake early to make a summit attempt of 9,127' Mt. Shuksan. This climb will serve as an excellent opportunity to apply the skills learned in the previous days of the program. Following our route plan we'll ascend the Sulphide Glacier toward the summit pyramid, navigating around crevasses as we go. This section of the climb provides good insight into the decision making required to be a rope-team leader in glaciated terrain. Arriving at the summit pyramid we transition from glacier rope-team travel to a rope system for the 600' of rock climbing that lies ahead. Ascending gullies and corners in the face, we'll move as a team from belay stance to belay stance. Depending on conditions, some pitches may involve moves on rock, snow, and ice - classic alpine climbing at its finest! Most of the rock climbing is 4th and low 5th class making it very accessible for beginner alpine climbers while still providing a great challenge. The final moves traverse a beautiful summit ridge to the perfect pyramidal summit. Standing on top, knowing you climbed every foot of the mountain using your new skills and knowledge, you will feel an incredible sense of accomplishment! After enjoying the views and taking pictures we begin our descent to camp. We'll reverse our route and return to camp in the late afternoon.
Depending on your travel schedule, we can practice anchor building or ice climbing skills on the glacier during the morning, or we can depart camp first thing to return to Seattle or Bellingham. We'll arrive back in Seattle or Bellingham in the afternoon or evening.