Type: Trad, Snow, Alpine, Grade III
FA: 1952 Fred Beckey, Jack Schawbland, Don Wilde
Page Views: 6,067 total · 69/month
Shared By: Scott Perkins on Dec 3, 2013
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Z Winters

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure at Newhalem Crags March 1st to mid-July Details


The North Ridge route on Forbidden requires a somewhat lengthy but scenic and varied approach with nearly 5000ft of elevation and crosses two of the larger glaciers in the area- the Queen Sabe and the Boston. The ridge itself climbs at a very moderate grade with wonderful position.

If your looking for solitude this route is for you- with most parties vying for an ascent of the West Ridge or the East Ridge direct its likely you’ll have this route all to yourselves.

All things considered the North Ridge makes for a memorable trip to one of the coolest summits in the area.

A variation to the North Ridge was done in 1973, that route, the NW Face of the North Ridge is described here as well.


Directions: From I-5 take North Cascades Hwy to the NP ranger station in Marblemount. Here you can attain the necessary bivy permit for Forbidden.
From Marblemount follow Cascade River rd approximately 21.5 miles to the Boston basin trailhead parking on the left @3200ft.

Approach: Take the well worn trail up to Boston Basin @5700ft and continue above to the Queen Sabe Glacier. Ascend the glacier along the west margin to @7500ft and locate a gulley that is climbed to a small exposed notch and a rappel station. A single 60m rope is sufficient but depending on the condition of the moat it may be necessary to get creative to access Boston Glacier.
Once on the Boston Glacier contour northwest surrendering elevation as needed until you are able to pass just below a huge rock spur. Once beyond this continue northwest regaining the lost elevation until you arrive at the base of the Boston-Forbidden Col. Gain the terraced ledges of the Col with good bivy sites @7600

North Ridge route: From the bivy site scramble up to a short steep left facing corner. Climb this(5.6) to a level section of ridge with a wildly exposed bivy platform. Continue along the ridge crest climbing rock and snow as conditions dictate. At @8400ft the ridge steepens significantly and here you will find some of the best rock climbing on the route with the final pitch topping out right onto the summit block. Note: If planning to use the East ledges descent it is advisable to look over at the East face and make note of the rappel stations and ledge system from the last few pitches of the North Ridge.

N West Face of N Ridge: From the col scramble down to a rappel station and make a full length rappel down onto the Forbidden Glacier. Traverse around to the base of a 40-50 degree snow face @7500ft and ascend this to gain the ridge route and continue up the North Ridge route to the summit.

Descent: There are a few options.
Descend the West Ridge route via down climbing and/or rappels until you reach the notch above the Forbidden Couloir. From here you have two options
(1)Descend the Couloir via rappels and down climbing. Its advisable to know the condition of the schrund before committing to this descent and without two 60m ropes you'll likely be doing more downclimbing than rappelling.
(2) Descend the rock butress just west of the couloir. From the notch do not drop down into the couloir but instead continue a short distance and scramble down a gulley to a rappel station. A series of rappels and short scrambles will deposit you on the glacier just west of the Couloir. Single 60m rope adequate.
A short hike leads down to Boston Basin and the trail back out.

The East Ledges descent. This requires a combination of rappelling and down climbing 400-500ft of loose terrain with great exposure. A ledge system is then taken eastward until a gulley is reached about 100ft below a prominent rock gendarme. Ascend the gulley up and over the East Ridge and continue down snow slopes to the small glacier below the south face of Forbidden. A short hike leads down to Boston basin and the trail back out. Jim Nelon's Selected Climbs Vol 1 has an excellent topo and photo of the East Ledges descent route.


Crampons, ax, crevasse rescue gear, 60m rope, light apine rock rack. Ice screws in late season if doing the NW Face of NRidge variation.