Climb Sahale Peak via the South Slope Route

Cascade Pass Trailhead, Skagit County, Washington, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    12 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    4000 Feet


This is a great first climb for mountaineers who have just learned the ropes in technical climbing.

To get to Sahale Peak, drive to Marblemount, WA and continue on the Cascade River Road (Forest Road 15) for 23.5 miles. The road ends at the Cascade Pass trailhead, where the climb begins.

The first part of the climb follows the Cascade Pass trail for 3.5 miles and 1,800 feet. Cascade Pass makes a great place for a snack break, with a few carved out benches and an amazing view of the Stehekin Valley. After the pass, the trail curves to the left and you get your first views of Sahale Peak, towering above a deep valley and Doubtful Lake. The trail rounds clockwise along a ridge line above the lake called Sahale Arm

The arm connects to Sahale Peak at Sahale Glacier Camp (note: the distance and elevation gain are RT from the trailhead to Sahale Glacier Camp). Many parties are able to climb Sahale in a single day, but it's well worth the effort to bring along your camping gear. The view from the campsites is one of the most breathtaking in all of Washington and are best taken in at sunset. 

From the campsites, ascend Sahale Glacier. The glacier is crevassed, so be sure to have proper knowledge and gear. The glacier leads to a talus field under the summit block. Ascend towards the southeast corner of the summit block. The pitch to the summit is largely class 3 and a few class 4 moves, but fairly exposed, so some groups choose to place protection. Loose rock is also a risk on this side, so use caution if free climbing and be sure to wear a helmet.

The most common descent route is a 100 foot rappel off the south side, where the rock strata is sloped away and loose rock is less of an issue, but some parties down climb the southeast summit block. From either point, descend the rest climbing route.

Note that campsites require a permit from the North Cascades National Park and are in high demand. The park service releases permits a day in advance (i.e. Saturday morning for Sunday night camping), and many days they are all claimed on the first day they're available. Go find the toilet once you get to the campsite. It's a loo with a view!

Sahale is most often climbed from July to October, but earlier in the season, it's a good location for backcountry skiing. Check with the ranger station on road conditions if climbing early in the season.

Pack List

  • Helmet
  • Ice Axe 
  • Crampons 
  • Belay and rappel gear (with a 100 ft runner) 
  • Backpacking gear 

  • Hiking attire with warm layers 
  • Camera
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Sahale Peak is a prominent sub-summit of Boston Peak and is worth the ascent. The panoramic views of the North Cascades are top-notch for an approach of this distance. If you're able to obtain an overnight permit a base-camp at Sahale Glacier Camp is a must, but be prepared for high winds and blowing dust at nighttime. If you get off-route you can easily end up in Class 5 terrain on the summit block so route finding skills are essential. Watch your footing while on the summit: Last time I climbed Sahale a party dislodged a barrage of rocks that rained down and scarcely missed members of our party during our ascent. Wear a helmet! A glacier rope, and knowledge of crevasse rescue, is also highly recommended for the glacier crossing as accidents have occurred en route.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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