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Trip Report    

Ski Mountaineering - Forbidden Tour

A committing but phenomenal ski circumnavigation around Forbidden Peak with a summit of Eldorado

  • Fri, Apr 16, 2021 — Sun, Apr 18, 2021
  • Cascade Pass & Sahale Arm
  • Backcountry Skiing & Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road impassable/closed
    • Road is blocked a little past MP 18 and will probably be able to be accessed in a few days when the remaining snow melts
    • We were able to skin 80% of the approach but on the way back from Eldorado TH, a lot of the snow had already melted. 
    • Theres a large avy debris pile full of green trees 0.25 miles from Boston Basin TH
    • Sharkfin/Forbidden Col left variation is already starting to melt out. Right variation will probably go but will need longer than  30m rappels or do two rappels to clear the shrund. 
    • Small bergshrund forming on the col to get on to Forbidden Glacier
    • Exit to moraine lake still has plenty of snow
    • Approach to inspiration glacier from moraine lake is still in. 
    • All of the boulder fields were still covered in snow
    • Theres a large log for the river crossing at Eldorado TH
  • Day 1: MP 18 to base of Sharkfin 
  • Day 2: Boston Glacier, Forbidden Glacier, Moraine Lake to base of Eldorado
  • Day 3: Eldorado summit and back to the car

Trip Statistics:

  • ~ 21 miles
  • 12,000 ft of gain

After doing the Enchantments Traverse last weekend and seeing the stretch of nice weather. Chris H. and I set our eyes on the Forbidden tour which we had thoroughly researched this winter. Known for the vast views of all the prominent peaks in the area and the circumnavigation of the formidable Forbidden Peak, this tour was no doubt possible due to the culmination of our experience in backcountry skiing and mountaineering. 

Day 1

There were concerns on when the snow began but luckily we were able to park about 200m from MP 18 which currently has 3 large concrete blocks. To avoid the forecasted hot weather, we departed at 6:30am and made good progress on the road. Surprisingly we were able to skin most of the way to the Boston Basin TH, minus the few patches of dirt we just stepped over. There were some occasional downed logs but we were completely surprised when we ran into a large avy debris field coated with freshly chopped trees. This was about 400 ft wide and at least 10 ft deep. 

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Ascending the Boston Basin trail was pretty straightforward. Soon enough we found ourselves in the open fields overlooking Forbidden, Boston and Sahale. We ascended on the right flank of the Quien Sabe glacier, also keeping in mind to avoid the steep slopes connecting to the east ridge of Forbidden. We arrived at camp right below Sharkfin at the heat of the day 2:30 and spent the rest of the day enjoying the views, reviewing snow anchors and crevasse rescue skills. Around evening time we saw a lot of loose wet slides from the nearby steep slopes which helped us gauge current conditions. 

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Day 2

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We started early again as we had a lot of traversing to do before we could ski Forbidden. Booting up Sharkfin col was not the easiest thing as oftentimes the inch thick crust on top would break resulting in post holing in 45+ degree slope. We checked the climbers right exit but didn't like what we found and went up the chossier left slope which had some tat that we could use to rap into Boston glacier.  The exit was blocked by a cornice which was easily kicked off. A 30m rappel weaving through some bergshrunds gave way to Boston Glacier. The 800 ft ski down to the notch was a mix of heavy powder and catchy snow. From there we roped up and made our way to the Forbidden col. 

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We were able to skin up to Forbidden col which was already really soft from the sun and then got up on Forbidden glacier. From here we could see Moraine Lake, Inspiration Glacier, Eldorado and the Northwest face of Forbidden. This face was certainly my favorite side of the mountain. We waited a bit at the top for the snow to soften as it was west facing but due to being afraid of having it be too sloppy below we soon began the ski down Forbidden glacier and trended skiers right. Skiing while viewing the seracs, Moraine Lake and Eldorado was definitely one of the highlights of this trip. 

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Down at Moraine Lake, we took a lengthy break to melt water and fuel up for the upcoming climb which proved to be a bad mistake. While we were exiting out of Moraine Lake up towards Inspiration Glacier, the snow was already softer than what we would have liked. Looking back, it would have been better to camp at Moraine Lake and wait for the slopes to refreeze before exiting the lake. However once we got up to Inspiration Glacier, the snow stabilized and we found ourselves walking up to the base of Eldorado. 

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We camped at the base of Eldorado and had great views of the sunset on Forbidden. 

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Day 3

Left camp at 7:30. Made our easy jaunt up to Eldorado whose infamous knife edge was duller than a knife used on a glass cutting board. As the theme of this trip. The summit provided great views of all the North Cascade peaks, as well as the Ptarmigan Traverse, Whitehorse, Bonanza, Hozomeen and the Pickets. 

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We booted down to where the snow was comfortable for our liking and skied to camp, packed out  and skied out. The ski out to the ridge to cross over to the next basin over was decent, however on the other side, due to the lower elevation, the snow was already very mushy. Luckily the boulder field and parts of the forest were still covered in snow which made for a decent descent.  It ended up around 1000 ft of actually booting down to the Eldorado TH which is where we put our skins but on. 

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The skin back was uneventful, besides being surprised at how much has melted in 3 days. 

Thanks to my ski partners Brad and Chris for being awesome and supportive team mates. This ski tour is non trivial and please do your respective research before committing on this tour. However the effort you put in definitely pays out. 

Other pictures that didn't fit my narrative. 

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