Sahale Peak Ski Touring

It's been named the best view summit in the North Cascades and this may well be true. Some folks claim that one can see over 200 Cascadian summits from the top at just under 9,000 feet. There is a touch of ski mountaineering involved to reach the actual summit. Skiing down the Sahale Arm or the Quien Sabe Glacier is moderate and the setting is spectacular.

Difficulty rating and Skill requirements

Difficulty Rating System Explained

Overall Difficluty Level: Moderate

Skills required: Advanced skiing ability required, prior ski touring experience recommended;
You should be able to ski black diamond ski slopes at ski areas in just about any condition, and be able to ski ungroomed slopes of intermediate difficulty without any hesitation. You should have at a minimum taken an Introductory ski touring course or have ski toured a few times. You should be familiar with the various components of the gear and basic transitions from ski touring to skiing mode.

Very good physical fitness; you should be able to hike or climb for 5 to 6 hours with a pack varying from 20 to 40 lbs. and ascend 3,000 to 4,000 feet of vertical gain per day for 2 to 3 consecutive days.

  • Category: Ski
  • Type: Guided
  • Ratio: 4:1,8:2

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It's been named the best view summit in the North Cascades and this may well be true. Some folks claim that one can see over 200 Cascadian summits from the top at just under 9,000 feet. There is a touch of ski mountaineering involved to reach the actual summit. Skiing down the Sahale Arm or the Quien Sabe Glacier is moderate and the setting is spectacular.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day one:

We will meet at the Ranger Station in Marblemount, conduct a gear check and commute to our roadhead. This should get us skinning by mid morning. We should reach Cascade Pass late in the morning and make it up the short but steep slope to Sahale Arm by early afternoon. We will camp at around 6500 feet. If time and conditions allow, we can go for a ski to the Quien Sabe Glacier in the afternoon.

Day two:

There are several options. We can tour up the upper section of Sahale Arm, ascend the little Sahale Glacier and summit the peak from there. If we want to traverse the mountain, we would have to carry our skis with us. From the Boston Sahale Col we can ski almost 3000 feet down the Quien Sabe Glacier before we would have to head back onto “the Arm”. Of course we could just stash our skis above the Sahale Glacier, summit and return back to the ski depot, or we could do a traverse from the Quien Sabe side. It doesn't really matter, because the scenery is outstanding, all of the options will bring a touch of ski mountaineering and the ski descents are all top notch.

Sign up for a course or a trip and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a 20% discount on gear rental.

Pro Ski and Mountain Service is our retail specialty store. It has been located in North Bend, WA since 1999.

The past trips and courses have had a large influence on what we sell. Many of our Pro Guiding customers come on trips and courses with gear they purchased from our store. Not only do we want our clients to have the right gear for the job; we also receive direct feedback from them while they are using it in the field. Trust us - if the gear does not work - we won't sell it.


 1 Bottom - midweight or lightweight
 1 or 2 Tops - midweight or lightweight
 Sock Liners - 2 or 3 pair
 Ski Socks - 2 pair
 Windshirt, Soft Shell, Fleece - only one of these is necessary
 Schoeller™ type pants - soft shell
 Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
 Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Pants
 Softshell Ski Touring Pants
 Warm Hat - should cover ears
 Sun Hat - baseball type or visor
 Lightweight Gloves
 Ski Gloves
 Down or Synthetic Jacket
 Internal Frame Pack - 50 Liter (3100 cu in.) minimum
 Sleeping Bag - down or synthetic, 15º F to 20º F minimum
 Compression Sack - for sleeping bag           
 Sleeping Pad - closed cell foam or self inflating
 Headlamp - lightweight LED recommended
 Water Bottles - 1 or 2 liters, wide mouth
 Bowl or Cup
 Small Knife
 Sunglasses - adequate for snow travel
 Sunscreen - SPF >25, waterproof
 Lip Balm - SPF 15+
 Personal Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, waterless hand cleaner, etc.
 Small Personal 1st aid kit - blister repair (Compeed™), aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
 Skis - Alpine Touring or Telemark
 Ski Boots - Alpine Touring or Telemark – no downhill boots
 Ski Poles - telescopic poles work well, but not required
 Climbing Skins
  Ski Brakes
 Transceiver - single frequency,  457 kHz only
 Shovel - compact, lightweight, metal blade preferred
 Probe - dedicated probe only, ski poles do not suffice
 Ice Axe - 55-70 cm length, lightweight
 Boot Crampons – Aluminum is recommended for this trip
 Climbing Harness - lightweight, BD Alpine Bod style (no padding)
•  2 Locking Carabiners- (1) large HMS style and (1) regular locker
•  2 Non-locking Carabiners - any style, we recommend wire gates
•  1 Single Length Runner
•  1 Double Length Runner
•  1 Cordelette - 6 mm diameter, 6 meter length
 Camera - we’d like some shots for the PGS website!
 Ear Plugs - essential for sound sleep
 Camp Booties
 Thermos - vacuum type
 Note Pad and Pencil - Rite-in-the-rain brand waterproof notebook works
 Compass - adjustable declination a must
 Altimeter - Suunto watch works well
 Map Case - large zip-loc will suffice
 Maps - contact guiding office for appropriate quadrangles
 Collapsible Water Canteen - good for storing snowmelt at camp
 Warm Socks - to sleep in
 Lightweight Bivy/Tarp - handy with a floorless tent
 Foot Powder
GROUP GEAR PROVIDED BY PGS   *Please contact the guiding office if you prefer to bring your own gear in place of any of our group gear.
 Cooking Pots
 Technical Group Gear, VHF radio or SAT phone
 Group 1st Aid Kit

Where in the world is Marblemount? Marblemount, WA is located on the western slopes of the North Cascades along State Hwy 20. Driving time from the Seattle area is about 2.5 hours.

Are there places to stay in Marblemount if I get there a day early? Yes, there are reasonable accommodations. You can stay at:

 Totem Trail Motel


57627 State Route 20, Rockport - (360) 873-4535

Buffalo Run Inn

PO Box 133, 60117 State Route 20, Marblemount - (877) 828-6652

Skagit River Resort


(North Cascades Hwy, WA St Rte 20, Mile 103.5), 58468 Clark Cabin Road, Rockport - (360) 873-2250

Does PGS provide food for the trip? No, we do not provide food, but are perfectly happy to make food suggestions.

Can I buy food for the trip in Marblemount? There is a small grocery store in the local Shell Station, but it only carries basic things? The last bigger grocery store is located near Concrete, WA.

I do not have any prior ski mountaineering experience. Can I still come on the trip? If you have prior ski touring experience, are a good skier and are fit, it should not be a problem.  In fact Sahale Peak should be an excellent introduction into the world of ski mountaineering.

Where will we be camped? We will be camped at around 6800 feet on Sahale Arm. From there we can decide to ascend via the Quien Sabe Glacier or the little Sahale Glacier.

Is the skiing difficult? The skiing is not difficult per say, but you will be skiing with an overnight pack in a big variety of snow conditions. Solid skiing ability will make it much more enjoyable. We do not recommend this being your first ski outing with a big pack unless you are an advanced level skier.

SHOULD I TIP MY GUIDE? AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I TIP THEM? Although tipping is not a requirement it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or flat price tip that you are comfortable with.