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Forbidden Peak NW Buttress

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Forbidden Peak North West Buttress July 11 and 12, 2007

An exceptional climb of purity! 

Fred – the undisputed Alpine King of the Cascades himself said it in his Alpine Guide Book. 

The striking feature on the North side of Forbidden Peak had been on my list for a long time. The approach is long and one climbs already. 

Dave Jordan and I parked to car at the Eldorado Creek trailhead and rode our bikes up to the Boston Basin trailhead. The floods in the late fall of 2006 washed out part of the road and the road might not be fixed until August….

We arrived at the Boston Basin trailhead completely drenched in sweat (it was 100 degrees that day in Cascade Lowlands….), but we saved about a half an hour in time and the bikes promised to be sweet on the way down. 

What can one say. We had carefully packed overnight packs, but quite a bit of technical gear. We had about 7000 feet of ascent to do to our bivy site on the Boston – Forbidden Col. We had Sharkfin Col to go over and it was going to hurt – there was little doubt. 

As it turned out, we moved well, hydrated well and talked ourselves into believing that it was not even that hot… We arrived at our camp at around four pm and spent the rest of the day hanging out in the spectacular Boston – Forbidden Col. 

It was warm out – even at 7pm there was little cooling going on. 

We got up at first daylight, had a quick breakfast and headed for the toe of our buttress. 

I will do a bit more documenting in this portion of the report, since some people might be interested in doing the route and the description in the Beckey guide is pretty meager. 

Head for the toe of the North West Buttress staying a bit lower than you think you need to. The area right near the toe is pretty crevassed and can dead end you easily. There is a small icefall right below the toe at around 6800 feet. Stay below that and swing around it to the right side of the buttress. Ascend the small upper lobe of the Forbidden Glacier to about 8400 feet and head to the left. You will see  a distinct shelf that lets you access the actual buttress at around 8500 feet right below where the buttress flattens out into a saddle like feature. From here ascend the buttress on easy and good rock. The abruptly steepening part of the buttress where Beckey describes the Chimney seemed less obvious than anticipated. There are several steeper spots before you reach the actual chimney. 

You will reach the chimney at around 8100 feet or so. The chimney is (as correctly described) on the left side of the ridge. This feature is very distinct and you will recognize it once you are there. Before you get to the actual chimney you will reach a short section of steep rock that is very “perma-defrost” affected. (Maybe the rock is better right on the crest there…) The climbing is not particularly difficult, but certainly 5th class and you will find some very questionable rock there. 

The actual chimney is steep, but solid and easy to protect (5.7 to 5.8). The chimney opens up towards the top. It seemed easiest to us to exit the chimney straight over a steep bulge (maybe the crux move) rather than getting lured out to the left into increasingly committing terrain. 

From the top of the chimney, the terrain angles back and offers several pitches of moderate and enjoyable climbing on sound rock all the way to the summit. (It took us about 4 hours from the glacier to the summit and about 5 hours from our bivy to the summit)

The descent down the West Ridge offered no surprises. The access couloir presented a bit of a challenge at the bottom. The couloir is detached at its exit and required a rappel over the moat.

I would have to agree, this route is excellent, it has purity and Fred you are the man.  



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