July 22 – 29 Cascades 8 Day Intermediate

Hello everyone,

We’re just getting back to civilization here at the end of day 5 before 3 more days of climbing. We’ve had a safe, enjoyable, and productive time in the mountains.

We started the course reviewing and learning new skills and techniques at Mt. Erie on Fidalgo Island. We had a brief ground school, then got some rock climbing and rappelling in. Afterwards, we drove east on the North Cascades Highway to Marblemount and car camped.


Jordan climbing The Open Book, 5.6 on the Summit Wall of Mt. Erie.

On day two, we honed our packing skills, cut weight, and paired down gear to have a ‘carry what you need, not what you want’ mentality. We fit gear for 4 days in as little as a 30L pack! After packing, we hiked up into Boston Basin and setup camp at a glorious bivy spot with gigantic Johannesburg Mountain as the backdrop. We then spent the afternoon discussing rope skills, short-roping, and short-pitching.


Purple Loosestrife on the way to Boston Basin.


Victor gives Dan a spot crossing Boston Creek.


Lotsa learning going on up here. J-berg in the bg.


Dan employs the classic redirect off the helmet strap for flaking a rope into a backpack.

Johannesburg Mountain from camp at sunset.

Day three, we headed up the Southeast Ridge of Sharkfin Tower. Our day started with our crew guiding us to the base of the route, which included roping up for glacier travel, and navigating the Quien Sabe (Spanish for ‘Who Knows’) Glacier. Once at the base, we climbed technical rock and snow in crampons to a notch at the base of the ridge. From there, it was a few short pitches of fun rock climbing to the summit. Afterwards, reversing our route back to camp via rappelling and belayed down-climbing.


Brian leading us up to Skarkfin Tower.


Getting high on the Southeast Ridge, 5.0, of Sharkfin Tower.


Jordan on the summit of Sharkfin Tower.


Descending back to camp.


Just about back to camp.

Day four was our big day. Our objective was one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America — The West Ridge of Forbidden Peak, 5.6. We woke early-ish and headed up the West Ridge Couloir, which included climbing 45* snow, a wide step-across, and more rock climbing with crampons. Once a the notch and base of the West Ridge, we followed wildly exposed terrain up and down the ridge to the summit. Now, the guidebook states that “there is no easy way off Forbidden Peak; it is one of the most difficult descents in the range.” Well, we reversed the route and made our way back to camp in good style.


Brian & Jordan climbing the West Ridge Couloir to gain access to Forbidden Peak’s West Ridge.


Brian on the incredible exposed ridge.


Rappelling back down the couloir.

Today, we had a leisurely morning, followed by 1 on 1 crevasse rescue and practice. In the early afternoon, we packed up camp and headed back to the van. We stopped in Marblemount for some burgers and are headed to Washington Pass for some of the best alpine rock climbing in the state. Seriously.


One last shot before heading out of Boston Basin.

Ok, time to relax next to Early Winters Creek at camp. Climb on.

Gary & Victor

Parting Photo:


Sunset shot from the top of South Early Winter Spire after a recent 3 summit link-up of the Liberty Bell group with AAI Operations Staffer Zoë.

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