Forbidden Peak: West Ridge

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades, Washington

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Forbidden Peak: West Ridge


  • View of Cascade Peak from the parking lot.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • There is plenty of water along the approach.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Hiking to base camp.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • View to the northwest on the ascent.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Early views of Forbidden Peak (8,815') on the ascent.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • View to Boston Peak (8,894').- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Reaching the snow fields.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Lower camp.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • High camp above the tree line.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Studying the route at high camp.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Early morning view south, from just below the couloir.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Boston Basin filled with clouds.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Entering the couloir.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Entering the couloir.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Forbidden Peak's West Ridge.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Climbing the West Ridge.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • View to Moraine Lake and Eldorado Peak (8,868') from the West Ridge.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Further up the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • View west over the West Ridge route.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • Rappeling the couloir on the way off the mountain.- Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
  • - Forbidden Peak: West Ridge
Overview + Weather
Exceptional views and rock climbing. Restricted area with low traffic.
Difficult to get a permit in prime season.
North Cascades, WA
Pets allowed: 
Recommended Equipment:
Ice axe / crampons, Harness / rope / anchors
Alpine climbing NCCS rating: 
Grade IV
Net Elevation Gain: 
5,215.00 ft (1,589.53 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Total Distance: 
0.00 mi (0.00 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,600.00 ft (1,097.28 m)
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The Forbidden Peak West Ridge route is listed in Steve Roper and Allen Steck’s timeless climbing book Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. The awe-inspiring views and quality rock make for a memorable and enjoyable-while-challenging climb.

The approach to Forbidden Peak via the Boston Basin starts at a parking pullout at an elevation of approximately 3,600 feet. The trail from the pullout to Boston Basin is steep and requires a number of stream and snow-field crossings. After just more than 2,000 vertical feet of hiking, which can be heavily eroded in areas, you emerge from the trees into Boston Basin, where you are rewarded with views to 8,000-foot peaks in every direction. Once you’ve taken in the views and shot an ample number of photos, you’ll have several campsite options to choose from, as well as the benefit of a composting toilet. As you look out into the valley from 6,000 feet, you'll have arguably the best view from any toilet in North America.

The West Ridge is the most popular route to the Forbidden Peak summit. Depending on who you ask, this route is Alpine Grade II, with climbers likely saying it ranges from a 5.4-5.6. While it’s an enjoyable climb, the West Ridge route is not short. Once you’ve hit the summit, you’re only half-way done, and it’s not a slow descent thanks to the couloir and ice fields below.

Forbidden Peak is located in the North Cascades National Park, so you will need a Northwest Forest Pass permit. Also, although the climbing is free, you must have a permit to access Boston Basin, and the permit must be picked up from Marblemount Ranger Station. The number of available permits is limited, and given the popularity of Forbidden Peak, they go very fast on summer weekends. We arrived at Marblemount Ranger Station on a Thursday night and were lucky enough to get the last permit for the weekend.

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(6 within a 30 mile radius)

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(23 within a 30 mile radius)

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