North Cascades Climbing

North Cascades climbing with Pacific Alpine Guides

Climb Mt. Shuksan with Pacific Alpine Guides

Mt. Shuksan, 9,127′


North Cascades National Park is comprised of 318 glaciers, a high concentration of steep peaks offering high quality alpine climbing and surprisingly good rock, in a venue that is often compared to the European Alps. In the North Cascades there’s a lifetime of exploration to be had, from introductory climbs to Grade V ascents. We offer custom climbs in North Cascades National Park and on Mt. Baker for private groups and individuals.


Eldorado Peak, 8,868′

These are a few of the more popular objectives in the North Cascades:

Mt. Buckner, 9,114'

Mt. Buckner, 9,114′

Grade II


Sahale Peak, 8,681′

Grade III

Grade IV

  • Mt. Shuksan – North Face
  • Torment-Forbidden Traverse


Many of these routes can be combined into a great 6-10 day trip, with flexibility for weather and route conditions. Classic combinations include:

  • Mt. Shuksan, Sulphide Glacier & Eldorado Peak, East Ridge
  • Mt. Baker, North Ridge & Mt. Shuksan, Fisher Chimneys
  • Boston Basin: Forbidden Peak, Sharkfin Tower & Sahale Peak

Itineraries vary by trip, and group/individual experience levels.

Note: This is a general list for multi-day alpine climbing/mountaineering programs in the North Cascades. Each trip will have specific gear requirements.

Need rental gear? Items with the RENT link are available through us. Information on where to rent other gear (such as mountaineering boots) is available on our Rental Gear page.

Backpack: 45-60 liter internal frame pack.
Sleeping bag: Rated between 15° and 30°, down or synthetic. Keep in mind that manufacturer’s temperature ratings are subjective and serve as guidelines. RENT
 Compression stuff sack: Sized appropriately to your bag.
 Sleeping pad: Inflatable or closed cell foam (ex: ¾ length Thermarest Prolite).

 Ice axe: 50-60cm mountaineering axe (ex: Petzl Snowracer, Summit, or Sum’Tec). No leash is required. RENT
 Crampons: 10 or 12 point steel mountaineering crampon. Avoid waterfall ice crampons with fully rigid frames and vertical front points, as well as older crampons with leather straps. Make sure that your crampons are compatible with your boots (ex: Petzl Irvis or Vasak). RENT
Harness: Alpine harness with adjustable leg loops (ex: Petzl Adjama). For safety reasons, your harness needs to be less than 10 years old and in good condition. Be sure to check the fit of your harness. RENT
 (2) Locking carabiners: Pear shaped (ex: Petzl Attache or Attache 3D).
 (1) Non-locking carabiner: Wire gate recommended (ex: Petzl Ange S or Ange L).
Belay device (ex: Petzl Reverso 4).
 Double-length sling: 120 cm nylon or Dyneema sewn sling (ex: Petzl Fin’Anneau).
☐ Climbing helmet: Needs to be climbing specific (ex: Petzl Elios or Meteor III +). RENT
☐ Transceiver: Digital recommended. May not be required for later season climbs (ex: BCA Tracker 2). RENT

☐ Poles: Ski poles or trekking poles with powder baskets (ex: Black Diamond Traverse). RENT

 Mountaineering boots: Boots must be specifically designed for mountaineering, crampon compatible (ex: La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX or La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX).
 Gaiters: Provide a clean interface between our pants, boots, and crampons (ex: OR Flex-tex).
 Socks: 2 pairs (wool or synthetic) that work well with your boots. Keep in mind that warmth comes from good circulation, not necessarily heavy socks. Insulation comes from your boots. If your boots are roomy choose a heavier sock, if they’re more of a snug fit choose a lighter sock.

 Sunglasses: Glacier glasses or dark tinted wrap-arounds, should have full UV protection. Consider bringing an extra pair (ex: Julbo Dolgan). RENT
 Warm hat: Fleece, wool or synthetic.
 Sun hat: Baseball cap, visor, etc.
 Face protection: Buff® recommended.

 Light glove (ex: First Ascent Wind Pro Gloves 2.0)
 Medium glove: Should be wind and water-resistant, think ski glove (ex: First Ascent Guide Gloves 2.0).

There are many layering combinations for your upper body that will work well. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
 Baselayer top: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric (ex: First Ascent Midweight 1/4-Zip Baselayer or First Ascent Solarfoil Hoodie).
 (1-2) Insulating layers: Fleece, softshell or synthetic/down. Two lighter layers are more versatile than one heavy layer (ex: First Ascent Sandstone HoodieHangfire Hoodie, or Accelerant Jacket).
 Hardshell jacket with hood: Lightweight and waterproof (ex: First Ascent BC-200 Jacket).
 Synthetic or down insulated jacket: Synthetic or down (ex: First Ascent Ignitor Jacket).

 Baselayer bottoms (optional) (ex: First Ascent Midweight Baselayer Pants)
 Softshell climbing pants: Lightweight, breathable synthetic fabric. Zip-off trekking pants also work (ex: First Ascent Guide Pants or Mountain Guide Lite Pants).
 Hardshell pants: For adverse weather. These must have full side zips (ex: First Ascent Rainier Storm Shell Pants).

 (2) Heavy trash bags: Cheap lightweight waterproof lining for your backpack.
 Sunscreen: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on (ex: Doc Martin’s of Maui).
 Lip balm: With SPF protection.
 Water bottles(s) or hydration system: Should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
 Water purification tablets: Small bottle of Iodine tablets or similar (ex: Potable Aqua). Avoid chlorine dioxide tablets as they are light sensitive and require 4 hours purification time.
 Compact camera
 Extra batteries: For your transceiver (usually AAA), headlamp, camera, etc.
 Headlamp: LED headlamp recommended (ex: Petzl Tikka XP2 or Tikka Plus). RENT

 See Details.

 Insulated mug
 (2) Spoons or sporks

Guides will carry a well-equipped group first aid kit.
 Personal toiletry kit: Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper and/or baby wipes, gender specific items, small bottle of hand sanitizer.
 Personal first aid kit: Band-Aids, blister repair, anti-diarrheal (Immodium), antacid, ibuprofen or aspirin, as well as any personal prescription medications (be sure to discuss these with us).

 Ear plugs


The North Cascades offer objectives suitable for a range of ability levels. Introductory programs such as the Sulphide Glacier on Mt. Shuksan or the East Ridge of Eldorado Peak require minimal previous experience, whereas intermediate and advanced objectives such as the North Face of Mt. Bucker or the Torment-Forbidden Traverse require significant previous experience, proficiency on multi-pitch rock, snow, and ice, and the ability to move quickly.


Excellent physical fitness is required for all climbing trips in the North Cascades.

Details vary with each trip. In general:


    • Guiding and instruction
    • Custom itinerary
    • Group equipment including tents, stoves, fuel, ropes
    • Permit and insurance costs


    • Lodging and transportation on either end of the program
    • Personal equipment and food


Lunch Food: In the mountains, “lunch starts after breakfast and ends before dinner”. In other words, on a given day we generally won’t stop for a formal lunch break, and instead we’ll snack all day long. This is vital to maintaining high energy levels in this environment.

Be sure to bring foods that you like and emphasize variety. Energy bars and gels are great but in limited amounts – real food works just as well and tastes better.

Breakfasts & Dinners: Bring meals that can be cooked with just boiling water. Examples include freeze-dried pouches (Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry), ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, etc. The stoves we’ll use are very efficient for heating water but terrible for actually cooking anything.





Fly in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. If you intend to fly out on the last day of the program, be sure to schedule an evening flight departing no earlier than 8pm.

Car Rental

Renting a car in Sea-Tac tends to be the easiest option for ground transportation. Let us know if you’re interested in carpooling with other participants on the program and we might be able to help with arrangements.




We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your program. Note that many plans require you purchase insurance within 21 days of your initial deposit.




North Cascades Mountain Weather


North Cascades National Park, WA

1-8+ days



Cost Per Day
1:1 – $395
2:1 – $270
3:1 – $225

2 Day Cost
1:1 – $790
2:1 – $540
3:1 – $450

3 Day Cost
1:1 – $1185
2:1 – $810
3:1 – $675

Custom Rates