Martin Volken pioneered this multi-day ski tour in 1999 and we still love guiding it. The combination of the high alpine atmosphere, the great skiing and mountain wilderness make this trip a must for every serious backcountry skier. The region hosts every element that is needed to show what advanced ski touring in the Cascades is all about.
Martin Volken pioneered this multi day ski tour in 1999 and we still love guiding it. Pro Guiding Service has guided this (now classic) traverse in several different variations. The combination of the high alpine atmosphere, the great skiing and mountain wilderness make this trip a must for every serious backcountry skier. The region hosts every element that is needed to show what advanced ski touring in the Cascades is all about. Spectacular scenery, big glaciers, demanding skiing, big vertical drops and gains, winter camping, difficult navigating in sometimes questionable weather and a touch of mixed mountaineering. This trip will prove that the North Cascades are a ski mountaineering destination hard to match in the lower 48 states. Check out this article from the Seattle Times: Forbidden Foray for one skier's description.
We also offer this trip as a 3-day Forbidden Ski Traverse Express
Overall Difficulty Level: Very difficult
Skills Required: Advanced skiing ability and prior ski touring experience
Fitness Level: Very strenuous due to ski touring with an overnight pack
Day 1: We will meet at the Ranger Station in Marblemount, conduct a gear check, and commute to our road head. This should get us touring by mid morning. We will then reach the Quien Sabe Glacier via Cascade Pass or the Diamond Mine Road. We will establish our first camp near Sharkfin Col between 6500 and 7000 feet.
Day 2: We will traverse the infamous Sharkfin Col first thing in the morning and then ski the Boston Glacier under Forbidden Peak. From here we cross over to the Forbidden Glacier. The 3400 foot ski descent to Moraine Lake will bring us to our second camp. This is quite possibly one of the coolest descents to one of the most scenic camps in the National Park.
Day 3: An early morning start will get us across and above Moraine Lake and onto the Inspiration Glacier. We will camp at Klawatti Col. Depending on the conditions and mood of the group, we might have enough time to ski over to Austera peak.
Day 4: We will break camp early and start moving towards El Dorado peak. Ski summits don't get much better than this. From here we traverse the El Dorado Plateau to its southeastern edge and ski down the Roush Creek drainage to 3800 feet. From here we have to descend steep forest on a climbers trail to the Cascade River Road. There should certainly be enough time for a few well deserved beers in Marblemount.
Please prepare well. This tour is strenuous and not over until you are at the car! Please note that the road, weather, snow, and avalanche conditions do not always align with the trip dates. In those cases, an alternate itinerary may be required. Rest assured! There are many amazing alternative tours in the northern Cascades.
Snow Travel Equipment
If you have prior ski touring experience, are a good skier, and are fit, you should be okay without ski mountaineering experience.
The skiing is not difficult per say, but you will be skiing with an overnight pack in a big variety of snow conditions. Solid skiing ability will make it much more enjoyable. We do not recommend this being your first ski outing with a big pack unless you are an expert level skier.
We will have access to water on the second night; the other nights we will have to melt snow for our water.
Although tipping is not a requirement it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or flat amount that you are comfortable with.