The Quien Sabe Glacier is the perfect introduction to climbing in the North Cascades.  The climb combines moderate glacier climbing with a bit of steep snow and is capped off with an easy but exposed rock climb to the summit.  This climb is perfect for climbers new to the sport or more experienced mountaineers looking to climb a beautiful peak in the heart of the North Cascades.
The Quien Sabe Glacier can be easily done in two days.  The approach to this climb is relatively straightforward and short (for North Cascades standards) but does involve some steep, rough trail.  Camp is made at the lower Boston Basin camp well below the toe of the Quien Sabe Glacier. The approach usually takes 3 to 4 hours of climbing which leaves time for training around camp and allows climbers to get to bed early for the “alpine start” the next morning.
The next day starts early to ensure firm snow conditions and give the climbers enough time to climb to the summit and descend.  The first hour or two is spent hiking up to the base of the glacier.  Once at the base the team will rope up and climb up through the lower section of the glacier. After negotiating the lower, broken section of the glacier the climbers will tackle the steeper section of the route.  This involves moderately steep snow up to 40 degrees in steepness.
The route then transitions off the glacier and onto the West Ridge.  The west ridge is followed to the summit via 3rd and short sections of 4th class rock.
The descent follows the same route as the ascent via down-climbing and possibly a short lower, depending on conditions.
Skills Required
  • This climb is appropriate for climbers new to climbing.  No previous experience is required but previous use of crampons, ice axe and crevasse rescue skills are beneficial.  
  • Moderate Fitness.  Summit day will be around 7 hours camp to camp plus and additional 2 hours descent from camp.

The Southeast Ridge of Sharkfin Tower is the perfect route to add to this itinerary.  The climb of the SE Ridge is a perfect introduction to alpine rock.  It combines some moderate snow climbing with an exciting rock climb.  For more information check out the Sharkfin Tower page.