Forbidden Tour - North Cascades National Park 

xxx with the Northwest Mountain School

Mountain: North Cascades National Park

Route: Forbidden Tour

2021 Dates:
  • April 2-4, 2021
  • April 9-11, 2021
  • April 16-18, 2021
  • May 7-9, 2021
  • May 14-16, 2021
  • Custom Dates Available

Cost: $1050 per skier (2 skier min)

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Cost Includes
Guide fee, stoves, tents, rope, BCA Tracker DTS beacon use
Cost Does Not Include
Transportation to/from Marblemount, WA, personal food or equipment.

Client to Guide Ratio: up to 4:1

Expedition PDFs 

Equipment List »

Forbidden Ski Tour with the Northwest Mountain School
Forbidden Ski Tour with the Northwest Mountain School
Forbidden Ski Tour with the Northwest Mountain School
Forbidden Ski Tour with the Northwest Mountain School
Forbidden Ski Tour with the Northwest Mountain School
Forbidden Ski Tour with the Northwest Mountain School
Forbidden Ski Tour with the Northwest Mountain School
The Forbidden Tour takes place in the heart of North Cascades National Park and has recently become a classic Northwest Ski Tour. While this has been done in one very long day, the Forbidden tour is best enjoyed as a 3-day trip, maximizing your opportunity to ski in this remote corner of Washington's North Cascades while keeping packs light. There are a few variations of the Forbidden Tour, but most start with a ski up to Boston Basin, and then cross over Sharkfin Col, crossing the Boston Glacier, the North Ridge of Forbidden Peak, the Forbidden Glacier, and then finally the Inspiration Glacier before reaching Eldorado Peak and the Forbidden Tour's exit to the Eldorado Peak trailhead parking.

Forbidden Tour Itinerary 

Forbidden Tour Day 1: Eldorado Parking Lot to Boston Basin

The Forbidden Tour works best in the spring and this means that we usually need to start at the Eldorado Creek trailhead, where the road is gated until early summer. From here we ski up the Cascade River road for a few miles, before heading up and left into Boston Basin. If snow conditions allow we also have the option of continuing toward Cascade Pass and then coming over Sahale Arm and dropping into Boston Basin this way. We generally make this a short day and camp in Boston Basin in preparation for our climb over Sharkfin Col in the morning.

Forbidden Tour Day 2: Boston Basin to Moraine Lake

After skiing up the edge of the Quien Sabe Glacier we make the steep climb to Sharkfin Col. At the base of the col we put our skis on our packs, attach crampons to our boots, and kick steps up the steep snow leading to Sharkfin Col proper. From here we make a short rappel onto the Boston Glacier. If you have been over Sharkfin in the summer, you will enjoy the relative ease of the crossing when made entirely on snow. Once on the Boston Glacier we ski down and across before skiing back up to climb up and over the North Ridge of Forbidden Peak. Just over the North Ridge we are treated to the iconic descent of the Forbidden Tour, a beautiful ski down the Forbidden Glacier to Moraine Lake. We often camp here at the Lake. From Moraine Lake we ascend the steep, but manageable Inspiration Glacier to the base of the East Ridge of Eldorado Peak.

Forbidden Tour Day 3: Eldorado Peak to Trailhead

On our last day we have the option to spend the morning touring before dropping over into the Rousch Creek drainage and working our way down the climbers approach trail leading back to the Eldorado Creek Parking area. Energetic groups might want to summit Eldorado and ski from the summit, while others may prefer to explore the Inspiration Glacier and its many climbable summits.

Forbidden Tour Participant Qualifications 

Ski Ability: The Forbidden Tour is not an extreme ski route, but it can be a rugged adventure. This remote backcountry ski tour takes place deep in North Cascades National Park and injured or tired parties are a long way from definitive medical care. Simply put, participants need to be decent skiers and in good condition. Things you should feel comfortable doing include: skiing with a 30 lb. backpack, skiing a wide variety of snow ranging from powder to breakable crust to corn, and climbing and descending 3500-4500' on skis for three days. You will want to do some AT skiing in advance of this trip and will want to show up having used your boots in the time prior to the trip. Good preparations include our Intermediate AT Ski Course and our Stevens Pass Day Tours.

Ski Skills Assessment - Forbidden Tour 

It can be difficult to determine where different people are in terms of ski ability without skiing with them in advance of a program. As we don't always have the opportunity to ski together in advance of all trips we have provided the following list so that potential customers can evaluate their ski skills and choose the most appropriate program.

Advanced Ski Skills 

  • Able to ski fall line in most snow conditions (powder to wind affected snow).
  • Able to make parallel or stem-christie turns on 35° groomed or firm snow.
  • Able to side-slip on firm slopes up to 35°.
  • Able to ski moguls in soft snow.
  • Able to do kick turns facing in or facing out on 30° slopes.
  • Able to skate on level terrain.
  • Able to ski fall-line in tight radius turns in good conditions.
  • Able to ski black diamond runs at ski areas efficiently and in most snow conditions.

Physical Condition Evaluation for Skiing 

Ski touring requires a certain basic level of physical fitness to minimize risk and be enjoyable. In addition to a solid base of aerobic conditioning you need to have the basic core strength to ski in a variety of conditions while carrying a ski pack. The best training you can do for ski touring is ski touring. It is best not to go into any extended trip without finding the time to get in a few days of touring in advance to make sure that your feet are conditioned to your boots.

Very Good Physical Condition 

Full day tours with 3000-4500 feet of elevation gain while carrying a pack weighing between 20 and 30 lbs. on tours lasting 3-6 days

Recent Forbidden Tour Trip Reports  

Late February 2010 Forbidden Tour Trip Report