Sharkfin Tower sits in the middle of the famous Boston Basin, surrounded by peaks such as Forbidden Peak, Sahale Mountain, and Mount Torment. The South East Ridge makes for the perfect introductory alpine rock climb or as an addition to one of the other classic climbs in the area. The climb has a good combination of glacier climbing, steep snow, and moderate rock, enabling the climber to put to use many of the skills needed to be a well-rounded Alpinist.
In an area already known for some of the best alpine rock climbing in the Cascades, Sharkfin has what many consider to be the best granite in Washington State. While the climb is relatively short, what it lacks in length, it makes up for in position, exposure, and ambiance.
The ascent of Sharkfin Tower is one of the best introductory alpine rock climbs in the North Cascades. The rock is solid, the climbing is moderate and the exposure is impressive. Add to that Sharkfin’s location and you have a great climb by itself or a good addition to other surrounding climbs.
The climb starts from the lower campsites in Boston Basin and consists of a very short glacier, a moderately steep couloir and several pitches of low fifth class climbing. The most dramatic section of the climb is on the upper portions of the tower. After leaving the notch at the base of the rock the route follows near or on the ridge crest for several 5th class pitches. These can be climbed in rock shoes or boots depending on your comfort level. As you gain elevation on the tower the exposure increases but fortunately the climbing eases. The last few pitches to the summit are 4th to low 5th class climbing directly on the ridge crest.
The descent back to camp starts with a bit of downclimbing followed by several rappels. You will trace your route back down the couloir, onto the glacier and back to camp. From there you can relax in camp and get ready for your next climb or head back to the valley for a well-deserved dinner.
North Cascade Mountain Guides also offer this program as a two or even one-day program. Previous climbing experience with NCMG or a strong recommendation from a certified guide is required to participate on one of these more advanced programs.
Climbers should know how to belay and rappel and be comfortable on low 5th class rock. If climbers are new to rock climbing NCMG suggests rock shoes for this climb to increase comfort and security, otherwise, mountaineering boots are appropriate.
- The climb of Sharkfin Tower is often combined with either an ascent of the West Ridge of Forbidden or the Quien Sabe Glacier on Sahale Mountain.
- For the most ambitious, adding this climb into a complete traverse of the Torment, Forbidden, Sharkfin, Sahale tour would be a climb of a lifetime.