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Boston Basin

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Aiguille de l'M 
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Boston Basin  

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Elevation: 6,000'
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Administrators: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Mike McL on Jun 3, 2009
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Boston Basin lies within the heart of Washington's stunning North Cascades. The big attraction here is Forbidden Peak, particularly its West Ridge, which is included among Steck and Roper's 50 Classics. Other draws here include Sahale Peak, Boston Peak, Mount Buckner, Mount Torment, and Sharkfin Tower.

The objectives here are truly alpine, and most require some snow and/or glacier travel. Be prepared for inclement weather. This is the Cascades, right?

If you're not going car-to-car, permits are required to camp in Boston Basin.

For permit information, contact:


Wilderness Information Center
7280 Ranger Station Road
Marblemount, WA 98267
Phone: (360) 854-7245

Fred Beckey wrote the definitive three-part guide to the Cascades. The Boston Basin area is covered in Volume II. Jim Nelson's and Peter Potterfield's "Selected Climbs in the Cascades" (Volumes I and II) is also a great series.

Getting There 

Driving directions: From Seattle, take I-5 North. Exit in Burlington for WA 20 East, which becomes the North Cascades Highway. Drive about 50 miles east to Marblemount. Make a right in Marblemount onto Cascade River Road. Drive 21.7 miles (according to the guidebook) on Cascade River Road. There's a small pullout on your left directly opposite Johannesburg Mountain. Park here. If you've gone to the end of the road, you've gone too far.

The approach to Boston Basin starts directly from the parking pullout. After a short while, the trail climbs very steeply uphill and is very eroded. Stay on the trail, crossing several streams. Continue switchbacking uphill until out of the trees. Boston Basin lies at about 5700' . Campsites and a composting toilet (best crap you'll ever take) are located in Boston Basin. Several options for campsites are available.

Climbing Season

Weather station 12.3 miles from here

11 Total Routes

['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',6],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Boston Basin:
North Face   Steep Snow     Snow, Alpine, 1300'   Mount Buckner
Quien Sabe Glacier   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b Easy Snow PG13     Snow, Alpine   Sahale Peak
Southeast Ridge   5.0 2- 4 I 6 MM 1c     Sport, Alpine, 3 pitches, 200'   Sharkfin Tower
North Ridge   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Mod. Snow     Trad, Snow, Alpine, Grade III   Forbidden Peak
West Ridge   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Mod. Snow     Trad, Snow, Alpine, 1500'   Forbidden Peak
Torment-Forbidden Traverse    5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Steep Snow     Trad, Snow, Alpine, Grade IV   Mount Torment
East Ridge Direct   5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches   Forbidden Peak
Southeast Face   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, Alpine, 2 pitches, 150'   Sharkfin Tower
Browse More Classics in Boston Basin

Featured Route For Boston Basin
East Ridge of Forbidden Peak starting to the left ...

East Ridge Direct 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c  WA : Northwest Region : ... : Forbidden Peak
A great alpine climb easily accessible (~4-5h from car park). From camp, ascend north towards Forbidden's South Face. Reach a notch in the ridge and go left around the first gendarme. You'll reach a bivy spot where you can leave your boots+crampons,etc.From the bivy spot climb a few pitches of low class 5. Climb up a second gendarme and knife edge ridge. After climbing the third gendarme you'll need to rappel into a narrow notch, there's plenty of tat. The third gendarme can be avoided by climb...[more]   Browse More Classics in WA

Photos of Boston Basin Slideshow Add Photo
Boston Basin
Boston Basin
Early morning views from Boston Basin
Early morning views from Boston Basin
Morning light on Johannesburg Mountain from below ...
Morning light on Johannesburg Mountain from below ...
Camp overlooking Boston Basin.
Camp overlooking Boston Basin.
Approaching Boston Basin.  Forbidden Peak lies abo...
Approaching Boston Basin. Forbidden Peak lies abo...
Panoramic view of Boston Basin from the trail.
Panoramic view of Boston Basin from the trail.
Campsites at Boston Basin.
Campsites at Boston Basin.
Some very cool igneous and mostly metamorphic geol...
Some very cool igneous and mostly metamorphic geol...

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