Trip Report    

Forbidden Peak Northwest Face

Alpine rock climb on a very committing route that is equally stunning and beautiful.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
    • Boston Basin TH is still closed. We biked in from Eldorado TH and stashed bikes there. 
    • Creek crossing were okay. Took shoes off for the first crossing
    • Sharkfin Col was still snowed in. It wasn't too bad scrambling to the col
    • Rapping onto Boston Glacier had some overhanging rappels under a bergshrund. 
    • Boston and Forbidden Glacier were pretty closed but still required some thought into route finding
    • Notch to get to Forbidden North ridge was getting a bit tricky. 
    • Rappel from North ridge to Forbidden Glacier was straightforward. 
    • There still was a nice snow ramp to get onto NW Face. 
    • Some snow next to bivy site at 7600 ft to melt snow from. 
    • Rappelled cat scratch gullies, some snow at the top you can down climb or rappel. 
    • Around 5 rappels with a 60m rope deposits you at an odd place in the middle of 4th class terrain. Downclimb was the weirdest here in boots
    • Moats are forming near the rock island at the base of Cat Scratch


Forbidden Peak April 2021, NW Face is the center ridge

In preparation for my Bugaboos trip, I was hoping to get on some longer alpine routes in Washington. My friend Kat had permits for Boston Basin and was hoping to get on the NW Face. I was 50% on the line about going on this climb as it is one of the more committing routes. If not for trip reports from last weekend of the conditions on the route I probably would not have gone for it. The NW Face is committing as you have to go up and over two notches, rap into two glaciers both of which are hard to exit (aka pretty much have to climb the routes to get out). People have reported having a hard time getting onto the rock as well. Kat collected excellent beta which made our day go smoothly. 

Day 1

Unlike doing Forbidden last year, I persuaded Kat to bring bikes for the approach. Although it was strenuous pushing the bikes uphill, it was definitely a joy to have them for the cruiser downhill. The Boston Basin trail was more bushy than I remembered and we made it up in the humid weather. While going up to the Sharkfin Col I remembered reading that people easily missed the notch so we went to check out the first notch up the snow finger on our left just as the couloir widens out. Luckily it was the correct rap anchor, however we were in some clouds  with low visibility. It seemed like Forbidden was testing us on whether we wanted to commit to this climb. We then saw that it was clearing up near Buckner and decided to go for it. The first rappel was straightforward but then the second rappel went straight underneath a big bergshrund. Not the place to dally. One major crux done. From there we roped up and traversed the Boston Glacier which was filled in to make travel not too much of a hassle.


Rappel underneath the looming bergshrund


Clouds moving away from Boston Glacier

As we arrived near the North Ridge, we spotted some trickles of melt water running down some snow. This helped to refill a portion of our water bottles. Up next was the next crux. Getting onto the North Ridge. Some years parties reported climbing potato chip rocks to gain the ridge. We didn't encounter that but we did have to scope around quite a bit to gain the rock. From there we could finally see our objective.


Snow moat at the north ridge


Finally see the objective!

We wondered if we were at the right notch but we found a bivy sight which aligned with our beta of finding the rappel station skiers left down past the bivy. Going down the Forbidden Glacier we had to go quite a bit skiers right to avoid the crevasses and also take some time to plan out our route to get up to the ramp onto the NW face.


The access ramp is around 7600ft which helped as there looked like two options to get onto the ridge.


Ramp onto the NW Face 


A picket came in handy here as I got belayed traversing the steep snow to the ridge. Here my titanium ice axe adze broke off as I was trying to kick in in the snow. Good thing this happened after all the glacier travel. From there we found a bivy site made by our friends a week earlier and some snow right by to melt water with. We enjoyed great view of Eldorado, Primus, Tricouni, Klawatti and Moraine Lake and talked how all the cruxes of the route went by fairly smoothly. I felt pretty relieved as the rock climbing portion was more within my familiar terrain. 

Day 2

I was pretty much a rotisserie chicken , tossing and turning all night as a bivy on rocks is not the most comfortable. The lack of sleep did get to us quite a bit by the end of today. Now for the fun part! We scrambled about 100ft below switching to simul climbing. The lower part of the ridge felt similar to the north ridge of Stuart.


Fun ridge climbing! You can sort of make out the 5.8 up ahead

We then encountered was seemed like the 5.8 crux, pulling on some finger jams followed up by an odd stemming traverse with a fixed nut above. The chimney I found was the dirtiest part of the climb as it funneled in all the dirt and loose rocks. I found the 2 simul climbing pitches above the chimney to be the most fun. 


Loose chimney. Careful stemming involved

I was super excited to do the iconic 5.6 down climb despite heinous rope drag as I wasn't able to do that last time. From there we did the downclimb down the west ridge, passing around 5 parties and asking for descent beta. Made one rappel before getting to the notch. I was quite surprised as there was still snow at the top of cat scratch gullies which wasn't there when I did it last year mid July. Doing the route last year helped to remember where all of the rappel stations were. Every time I go down the cat scratch gullies, I am reminded that I would never want to ascend up the funnel of loose rocks. For me Forbidden is as hard to get off as it is to get on. Even when we got back to the base, we still had to navigate carefully around what seemed to be forming moats, in the process actually belaying my partner across the last crossing. I remember Craig Lubben's death near Torment involved a moat which has been making me really touchy with anything involving snow rock transitions around this time of year. 


Both Kat and I were pretty mentally and physically fatigued by Boston Basin. Lack of sleep and also the whole committing nature where having one thing off can change the whole entire trip made us be on our toes quite a bit (read this double be-nighter for those interested). It was also our first big alpine climb of the season. This climb was super rewarding and would not have been possible without the trust and skills of my climbing partner Kat as well as information from our friend Alisse and Micah. 


Day 1

    • 8:30AM start at Eldorado TH
    • 1:30pm at Sharkfin Col
    • 4:18pm at North Ridge
    • 6:30pm at 7600ft bivy on ridge 

Day 2

    • 6:50am start
    • 11:00am top out (4hrs of climbing)
    • 1:00pm at West Ridge notch
    • 2:23pm at snow below cat scratch 
    • 5:30pm at cars


  • Doubles from 0.2 to 2, nuts, 8 singles 2 doubles, crevasse rescue gear, extra cordellete 
    • 60m twin rope
    • 1 picket (useful) 
    • 1 ice screw for leader
    • crampons
    • heavy 3 season boots