North Cascades Climbing: Boston Basin

This month seems to be all about North Cascades National Park - and I'm not complaining, because it has some fantastic climbing.  On 18 August, David and his daughter Shayna met me at the Marblemount Ranger Station, where we scored four nights in Boston Basin.  We got the gear sorted out, loaded up, drove on up to the trail head, and had a casual hike up to Low Camp.

For day 2, we climbed Sahale Peak via the Quien Sabe Glacier.  The fourth class finish to the summit was a perfect introduction to alpine rock climbing, and we enjoyed the view.  During the descent we intentionally passed by some of the larger crevasse zones to talk about glacier terminology, travel techniques, and crevasse formations.

Of course, I had to forget my camera that day, so I have no photos to brag with.

After our experience on Sahale's summit, we decided that David and Shayna needed more rock climbing experience before tackling big objectives like Torment or Forbidden.  To get some of that exposure we traveled to the Aiguille de l'M, a fin of rock that splits the Torment and Forbidden bowls inside the greater Boston Basin.  A week earlier my friend Forest had guided a two-pitch route directly to the summit from the northeast side.  We traveled to the north saddle and traversed the entire north ridge, summiting one at a time on the postage-stamp summit.  A team of three that retreated from Forbidden followed us up for a second ascent.

On our last day of climbing I picked the Southeast Ridge on Sharkfin Tower for our summit.  This route had it all - a moat to cross, steep snow to climb, and technical rock climbing to the summit.  After a false alarm at 2:30am, we fired up the stoves at 4:45am and were on our way at first light.

Some downclimbing and raps lead us back to the snow and camp.  What a week!  We had climbed glaciers, steep snow and rock; learned about crevasse rescue, rock protection and anchors, and tagged three great summits in an incredible alpine setting.  It was perfect!

Statistics:  Pro Guiding Service, North Cascades Mixed Mountain Camp, 18-22 August.  
Sahale Mountain (8680 ft / 2646 m), Quien Sabe Glacier, II 4th class, steep snow & glacier.
Aiguille de l'M (7190 ft), North Ridge, 5.0.
Sharkfin Tower (8120 ft / 2475 m), SE Ridge, II 5.0, 30 deg snow, glacier.