Verboten, the Ski Tour

Addicted to lousy weather, Nick Pope and I enjoyed a two day circumnavigation of Forbidden peak recently. We skied through storms on the first day in order to enjoy a magnificent and sunny day high on the glaciers surrounding this classic Cascade summit. While the Cascades are renowned for their arduous approaches and remote character, this tour proves that high-mountain ski touring in Washington can be easy to access. The fun-to-hard work ratio on this trip is very attractive.

Climbing up into Boston Basin came easy, with a judicious jog to the east and up Soldier Boy creek. We hit Sharkfin Col in the late afternoon and cramponed up steep, firm snow. At the col, Nick sawed off a big chunk of cornice to make room for our rappel. The anchors were easy to access, and the whole crossing took less than an hour.

We holed up for the night in a spacious cave with a tarp covering the entrance. At the back of the hole we hit glacial ice and found a crevasse, testament to the unusually low snow pack this year. The morning dawned lovely and pink, and after a headlamp-lit descent we toured up to the North ridge of Forbidden, gazing out on Logan and the peaks of the Thunder Traverse. Intriguing, to say the least.

Easy booting gained us the ridge, and we dropped into the 2,500'+ descent to Moraine Lake. If you've ever gazed down on this lovely blue lake from high on Eldorado or Forbidden, you've probably wondered if anyone ever goes there. I always did, and now I've been. I always appreciate the way skis let an alpinist be seduced both upward AND downward toward improbable places.

Skiing up onto the Inspiration Glacier, we felt a little disappointed that the tour would be over so soon. In fact, we were back to the road by 2 PM. I couldn't help but think that connecting the Forbidden tour to the Isolation Traverse would make for a grand outing. As usual, the Cascades had me dreaming.