Climbs in the North Cascades
The North Cascade Range is the lower 48's premiere destination for alpine mountaineering. With over 300 glaciers in an area just over 1,000 square miles, the North Cascades are the ideal place to develop basic mountaineering skills or to push yourself on remote and challenging alpine climbs. Most of our customers for climbs in the North Cascades have some previous climbing experience, but there are a few spots suitable for training beginning climbers.
Peak Ascents in the North CascadesWe offer a wide range of programs in the North Cascades including programs in North Cascades National Park, on Mt. Baker, and on Glacier Peak. Many peak ascents have set dates, and we can also organize custom climbs. Custom programs can be arranged for groups as small as 1 climber and their guide and as large as 9 climbers and 3 guides, although we prefer smaller groups.
Accessing the mountains is the central challenge as the area is managed to maintain its rugged approaches and wilderness setting, thus there are few roads, and a very limited number of trails. Most of the guided climbing takes place in Boston Basin, on Eldorado Peak, Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, and Glacier Peak. Beyond these three areas lie endless opportunities for exploration of peaks that often see only a few ascents per year.
Mountaineering Courses in the North CascadesChallenging approaches, heavily glaciated mountains, and significant valley to summit elevation gain make North Cascades National Park one of the premier training areas in North American for ascents of big mountains. The North Cascades is often overlooked as a destination for climbing training as the altitudes of the summits tend to top out around 9,000' Don't be fooled by the low altitudes, as the North Cascades are the only place in the United States where the climbing is sufficient to put candidates for AMGA Alpine certification through their exams and is also the best training ground in WA for general mountaineering. New climbers might consider our 6-day Glacier Mountaineering Course Those planning to undertake an extended expedition might consider our Denali Prep Course.
Climbs in the Picket RangeThe Picket Range lies to the North of Highway 20 and West of Ross Lake. This wild and remote range offers some of the most challenging climbing in the lower 48 and is rarely guided. Several of our guides have started offering annual trips into both the Northern and Southern Pickets. These climbs are big on adventure and generally only open to experienced climbers.
Ski Mountaineering in the North CascadesThe main ski mountaineering season here runs from March into early June. While day trips are possible, most of these trips are overnight trips. We operate set-date programs on the Forbidden Tour and can also organize custom ski descents of Mt. Baker and ski mountaineering courses.
Organizing your North Cascades Climb:The best way to organize a program in the North Cascades is to call the office at 509-548-5823 so that we can help design a program that will achieve your goals and take into consideration the best areas for your program.
North Cascades Introductory Climbs
North Cascades Advanced Introductory Climbs
- Sahale Peak - Quien Sabe Glacier (1-2 days)
- Mt. Shuksan - Sulphide Glacier (2 days)
- Mt. Baker - Coleman Deming (2-3 days)
- Glacier Peak Climbs (4 days)
North Cascades Intermediate Climbs
- Mt. Shuksan - Fischer Chimneys (3 days)
- Forbidden Peak - West Ridge (2 days)
- Forbidden Peak - North Ridge (3 days)
- Mt. Buckner - North Face (3 days)
- Mt. Triumph - NE Ridge (3 days)
- Sharkfin Tower - SE ridge (2 days)
- Eldorado Peak - East Ridge (3 days)
- Mount Torment - South Ridge (2 days)
- Dorado Needle - Northwest Buttress (3 days)
- Black Peak - NE Ridge, S Ridge Traverse (1 day)
- Mount Logan - Fremont Glacier (4 days)
North Cascades Advanced Intermediate Climbs
- Mt. Shuksan - White Salmon Glacier (3 days)
- Mt. Shuksan - North Face (3 days)
- Forbidden Peak - East Ridge Direct (2 days)
- Torment-Forbidden Traverse (2 days)
- Eldorado Peak - West Arete (3 days)
- Mount Fury - SE Glacier to East Peak (4 days)
- Early Morning Spire - Southwest Face (3 days)
North Cascades Advanced Climbs
- Mount Goode - East Buttress (3-4 days)
- Johannesburg Peak - NE Buttress (3 days)
Getting to the North CascadesNorth Cascades National Park is headquartered in Sedro Woolley, WA, and there are a variety of small towns that we use to launch programs, most about 90 minutes north of Seattle. For those traveling from out of WA, the nearest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located just south of Seattle. For most programs you will need to provide your own vehicle for the approach to the trailhead, all of which can be reached in standard vehicles.
Baker Lake Approach: This is used for climbs of Mt. Shuksan's Sulphide Glacier. The drive takes about 2.5 hours from downtown Seattle, and you will generally meet your guide at the Ranger Station in Sedro-Woolley, which is 1 hour and 20 mins north of downtown Seattle.
Cascade River Road Approach: We cross the Skagit River in Marblemount, WA for climbs in Boston Basin (Forbidden Peak, Sahale Peak, Sharkfin Tower, Tormet Peak, Johannesburg Peak, and Cascade Pass. We use the Eldorado Trailhead for climbs of Eldorado Peak, Dorado Needle, and the Forbidden Tour. Marblemount, WA is where you will meet your guide for climbs up the Cascade River Road and is about 2 hours from Downtown Seattle. The drive up the Cascade River Road takes about another 45 minutes and is passable in regular vehicles.
Glacier, WA Approach: For climbs on the North side of Mt. Shuksan as well as ascents of Mt. Baker we meet our guests at the USFS ranger station in Baker, WA. Baker usually takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach from downtown Seattle, and the trailhead is another 30 minutes beyond this.
Darrington, WA Approach: For climbs of Glacier Peak, we generally meet in the the small logging town of Darrington, WA and then drive another 30 minutes to the trailhead. The roads and trails around Glacier Peak are often affected by flooding and seem to be in a constant state of repair, thus we are always tweaking our approach to Glacier Peak given local conditions. Darrington is about 1 hour and 30 mins from downtown Seattle.