"Best trip thus far. The mutual respect and comradery amongst the guides made our trip very special."
— Michael O. | Read More Testimonials
Forbidden Peak's West Ridge is an unforgettable alpine climb and one of America's most sought-after ascents. Climb highlights include:
- Prepare for the ascent on the snow slopes and rock faces in beautiful Boston Basin of the North Cascades.
- Traverse the exciting and stunning line of Forbidden Peak's West Ridge to the mountain's summit.
- Climb with the expert leadership of RMI's guides and a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio.
Renowned for its exciting and classic terrain, the West Ridge of Forbidden is a tremendously rewarding climb that has earned its place as one of the "Fifty Classic Climbs in North America". The route features impressive views of surrounding Cascade peaks like the spectacular North Face of Johannesberg, the Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Peak, as well as the airy view down the North side of Forbidden to the remote Moraine Lake.
Located in the heart of the North Cascade National Park, Forbidden rises to a height of 8,630 feet. The route consists of climbing a small glacier below the South Face and then low 5th class rock and 40- to 50- degree snow and ice in the West Ridge Couloir. At the top of the couloir we cache our glacier gear and don rock shoes for the enjoyable 5.0 to 5.6 rock climbing along the exposed crest to the summit. The West Ridge of Forbidden is a true alpinist's classic.
A day of climbing instruction and review are included in the itinerary and may include an ascent of an easier local objective such as Sharkfin Tower or Sahale Peak.
We lead the West Ridge at a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio ensuring that you receive a high degree of hands-on instruction prior to the climb and also have a small, efficient rope team during the summit ascent.
This is an intermediate level program for climbers in great physical condition with knowledge of mountaineering techniques and previous climbing experience. Climbers should be comfortable on 45 degree snow and ice slopes and climbing on exposed ridges. While previous rock climbing experience is not required some climbers have found it helpful. Give us a call if you are undecided regarding your skills. A full day of climbing instruction and review are included in the itinerary.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. RMI Guides participated in some of America’s first ventures into the far reaches of the Himalaya. Years of expedition guiding and alpine climbing around the world have built a core of consummate professional guides.
Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains, and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.
Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our programs truly memorable.
RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading fun and successful climbs without compromising safety. Each climb includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the program. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI’s top priority.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or email@example.com.
Day 1: ORIENTATION & HIKE TO BASE CAMP
8:00 a.m Meet at Marblemount Ranger Station.
The group meets at the Marblemount Ranger Station in the North Cascades. Please see our Travel Details document for driving directions and carpool opportunities. Your RMI guides will meet you at the ranger station for introductions, group gear distribution and personal gear check.
From Marblemount we follow the Cascade River Road to the trailhead. During our hike in to Boston Basin we gain approximately 3,000'. The hike through the forest and up into the alpine meadows takes half a day and gets us into camp at 6,200' in time for an early dinner.
Camp in Boston Basin
Day 2: TRAINING
Our training offers participants an overview of various techniques which meet the challenges set forth by the West Ridge of Forbidden. The snowfields and rock above camp serve as our training ground. As part of our training day we may make an attempt on Sharkfin Tower or another moderate local objective. Our training will focus on movement skills, belaying and lowering techniques, glacier travel and self care skills.
Our first priority is the safety of all team members. During the training you will be asked to demonstrate that your fitness will allow you to climb safely, and that you are able to perform the climbing skills proficiently. We will continue to assess each team member throughout the course of the training and the climb.
After the day of skills training we return to camp where we make our final summit preparations, enjoy dinner, and go to bed early for the next day's climb.
Training for the climb
Day 3: THE SUMMIT CLIMB
The summit ascent - Our day begins with a pre-dawn alpine start to give us ample time for this full day of climbing. The route consists of climbing a small glacier below the South Face and then mid-fifth class rock and 40- to 50- degree snow and ice in the West Ridge Couloir. At the top of the couloir we cache our glacier gear for the enjoyable mid-fifth class rock climbing along the exposed crest to the summit. From the top the full majesty of the North Cascades are revealed with Mt. Baker to the northwest and views south all the way to Mt. Rainier.
After spending some time on top to enjoy the views and take photos, we begin our descent. We rappel and down climb the ridge, make our way back down the couloir, and then into camp for an early dinner and to watch the sun go down over the peaks to the west.
Climbing the West RidgeThe Summit of Forbidden Peak
Day 4: DESCENT TO TRAILHEAD
On our last morning we rise early for breakfast, break camp and take approximately two hours for the hike back down to the trailhead. The trip concludes with a celebratory lunch in Sedro Wooley. Those with a plane to catch should plan for an arrival in Seattle around mid-afternoon.
Forbidden Peak - West Ridge Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2015.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
BACKPACK: A 50+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb. A separate summit pack is not needed.
SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated 0° to 20° F will keep you warm. Use the colder bag in May, June and September; and the warmer bag in July and August. You may use either goose down or synthetic.
SLEEPING PAD: Full length inflatable or closed cell pad.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following formula for this climb: up to 5'8", use a 55-60 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 60-65 cm axe; and taller, use a 65-70 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should be a few inches below your knee.
CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.
1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
1 SCREW-GATE LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into anchors, etc.
HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.
CRAMPONS: The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.
120 cm sewn nylon sling ("double-length runner").
Head Guides' Pick
WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.
GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.
GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.
DOWN OR SYNTHETIC INSULATED JACKET: A hooded down or synthetic jacket.
RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood. We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.
RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.
LIGHT WEIGHT TREKKING PANT OR SHORTS (OPTIONAL): A lightweight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.
Feet Guides' Pick
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Mountaineering specific leather boots are the preferred choices for ascents in the North Cascades. Because of the amount of good rock climbing found on the West Ridge route, some climbers also bring a pair of rock shoes with them. A good compromise to carrying two sets of foot wear is one of the lightweight mountaineering boots made today designed for both rock and ice. These boots are sturdy enough for kicking steps and holding a crampon while also having sticky rubber and a good feel for the rock. Lightweight hiking boots are not acceptable as they don't work well with crampons, or in very cold or wet weather.
- La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX
- La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX
GAITERS: We recommend a knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing.
2 PAIR OF SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.
AQUAMIRA: Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.
GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
ZIP-LOCK BAG (1 GALLON): Please use the Zip-Lock as your personal trash bag.
Utensils Guides' Pick
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.
Arrange transportation and lodging.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, climbing ropes and anchors, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a cell phone for emergency contact.
On the West Ridge of Forbidden Climb you will need four trail lunches, three dinners and three breakfasts.
To plan your meals, check out the following examples and suggestions of the types of food that work well.
Single-serving instant oatmeal or Cream-of-Wheat makes a good main course fare. A variety of granola bars, pastries, fruit and a hot drink mix of coffee, tea, cocoa or cider are suggested.
Your "lunches" are taken in the field throughout the day during short 10 to 15 minute breaks. We suggest crackers, pizza, candy bars, jerky, chips, cookies, trail mix, fruits, Gu, energy bars, and hard candies. Drink mixes such as Gatorade and Kool-Aid help flavor your water. Add peanut butter, cream cheese, hard cheese, or pepperoni for additional calories and taste. If you enjoy bread items, bagels work well. Include some salty snacks to replenish lost salts.
Freeze-dried entrees are very convenient; it is best to be familiar with their taste (and the effects they may have on your stomach) in advance of your program. Instant soups and Cup-o'-Noodles are popular supplements to your main course. As an alternative, you might consider bringing a cold main dish such as chicken, pizza, sandwiches, pasta salads or stir-fry. In addition, bring coffee, tea, cocoa or cider to warm you up before bedtime.
Don't worry too much about the nutritional aspect of meals; concern yourself more with a high calorie intake. Most importantly, choose a variety of foods that you like to eat. One of the normal, albeit disconcerting, adjustments to altitude is a slight loss of appetite.
Once we are at camp, ample cold water is available for drinking and replenishing water bottles. Hot water will also be provided for your meals (freeze-dried dinners, instant soups, instant oatmeal, etc) and hot drinks. When planning your menu, don't bring any items that require extensive preparation, cooking or simmering. We are able to provide you with boiling water, but do not have the ability to actually cook food items.
This trip is open to individuals in excellent physical condition with previous climbing experience. In order to participate, each team member is asked to possess, at a minimum, the following skills and experience:
- An RMI Expedition Skills Seminars on Mt. Rainier or in Alaska or an equivalent multi-day mountaineering seminar.
- Familiar with ice axe and crampon use, team rope travel skills, and ice axe arrest techniques.
- While previous rock climbing is not required, some climbers have found it helpful.
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For this Forbidden - West Ridge Climb, you are preparing for:
- Steep hiking on the approach with a 45-50 lb load
- A 12+ hour summit day
- 5.0 to 5.6 rock climbing along an exposed ridge
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Below are approximate outlines of the program's physical demands that will be helpful in planning your training schedule and goals:
Total Hiking Time
Elevation Gain / Loss
|DAY 1 - Hike to Boston Basin|
Gain = 3,000'
45 - 50 lbs
|DAY 2 - Training|
Gain = 1,850'
Loss = 1,850'
20 - 25 lbs
|DAY 3 - Summit Climb|
Gain = 2,430'
Loss = 2,430'
20 - 25 lbs
|DAY 4 - Descend to Trailhead|
Loss = 3,000'
45 - 50 lbs
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
No acclimatization is necessary for this program.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide our clients with comprehensive travel support. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe. We have been working with Erin for the last 8 years, and she is very knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our meeting place is the Marblemount Ranger Station, 7280 Ranger Station Road, Marblemount WA 98267-9755.
We meet at 8:00a.m. Most climbers will fly into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport the evening before the program and rent a car for the 2 1/2 hour drive. The town of Marblemount is approximately 125 miles from SeaTac. Please click here for driving directions.
Ride Share: If you are participating in a climb and are interested in sharing a ride, please post your information in the "Ride Share" forum of your North Cascades Discussion Board by logging into your RMI Account.
You can find inexpensive camping at the Wilderness Village RV Park. This is where our guides stay. Click here for more info.
There are also motels in Marblemount:
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.
*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
For updated North Cascades weather forecasts, click here.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
North Cascades National Park has over 300 glaciers, more than any other park in the lower 48 states. More than half the glaciers in the 48 states are concentrated in this mountainous wilderness region called the North Cascades.
General Information on North Cascades National Park.
North Cascades National Park map.
Communities & Activities outside North Cascades National Park, click here.
A deposit of $300 per person secures your reservation. Deposit payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, check, or wire transfer. Final payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program, and we will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 90 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation. Balance payments may be made through your RMI account with an e-check, by sending a check to the address below or contact us for wire transfer information.
Once we receive written notification (mail, e-mail, or fax) that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply. A fee of $300 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 60 days before departure. There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 60 days before your program. Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, we cannot make exceptions to this policy.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
We also reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI is not responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
Change of Date
Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 30 days prior to your departure date. A $100 fee will be charged per person for all date changes made more than 30 days prior to the program.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, or your own abilities may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party will have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in a refund or reschedule.
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. is permitted to operate within North Cascades National Park. Occasionally our teams encounter other climbers, whether guided or non-guided, who need assistance in the form of rescue or evacuation. We are morally obligated to assist these climbers when practical and safe to do so. This rendering of assistance may compromise your program and the possibility exists that your climb may be aborted. While rescues and evacuations occur very infrequently, such situations are beyond our control, and a refund will not be offered.