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Peregrine News

Climb Forbidden Peak

Posted by Joseph Anderson

Through a damp fog of temperate jungles, valleys meander deep within the North Cascades like arteries.  Finally the forbidden heart of the mountain range is reached. But still glaciers guard steep mountain walls on all sides.  Forbidden Peak possesses a general feeling about it that it is barred from human access.  Its location is in what is considered one of the densest group of steep alpine peaks in the country giving it a feeling of true wildness.  Due to its remoteness it was unknown to the outside world until the middle of the 20th century when finally a man as wild as the mountains themselves would venture here and tame it.

Fred Becky first climbed the West Ridge with Loyd Anderson in 1940 and would from there on after speak and write so affectionately about this mountain that it is as if he had in fact found a piece of his own heart on the mountain.  He writes “The remarkable ridges are so quintessentially perfect, and it’s setting so grandiose that Forbidden has a special status….”  Today the mountain is a favorite amongst all mountaineers and it’s west ridge route is now considered one of the 50 most classic climbs of North America. 

Forbidden Highlights

The West Ridge begins with roping up for the steepish un-named glacier that leads climbers up to the South Face.  From there you transition into steep snow and ice climbing up the couloir portion of the climb.  In late season this actually becomes too broken up and climbers instead take the Cat Scratch gullies further west.  Topping out on the couloir you gain the ridge and are greeted by the reality that you are truly in the thick of the mountains - 360 degrees of big steep mountain walls with heavy glaciers are as far as the eye can see….aaahh American Wilderness at it’s best.

Other fantastic routes on the mountain include The East Ridge, The North Ridge and The North West Buttress.  The West Ridge is the easiest and our most common line of ascent.  Regardless this should not be taken lightly because it is very complex, technical and exposed.  Many participants who have not realized they have a fear of heights have felt the incredible exposure sneak up on them with no warning once on this climb. 

Forbidden Peak is in Boston Basin which is about a half day’s hike.  This gives us access to quite a few different summits that we climb on a fairly regular basis.  Sehale Peak is perhaps the most moderate of all the high Cascade Glacier climbs and there is also Shark’s fin Tower which has multi-pitch rock climbing without the huge commitment of Forbidden Peak.  If you climb up and over the technical fortress like ridge you gain access to the Boston Glacier, which is the largest of all of the non-volcanic glaciers in the North Cascades.  From Boston Glacier motivated climbers can reach the steep North Face of the highest peak in the region, Mt Buckner

Climb Forbidden Peak