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Walking into a Winter Wonderland on Eldorado Peak
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Walking into a Winter Wonderland on Eldorado Peak

 
Walking into a Winter Wonderland on Eldorado Peak

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 48.53724°N / 121.13036°W

Object Title: Walking into a Winter Wonderland on Eldorado Peak

GPX File: Download GPX » View Route on Map

Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 15, 2011

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling

Season: Fall

 

Page By: Josh Lewis

Created/Edited: Oct 21, 2011 / May 19, 2013

Object ID: 755376

Hits: 2831 

Page Score: 82.48%  - 15 Votes 

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Introduction

"Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb." -Greg Child

"It would be a crime not to climb on a day as nice as this one." -Ski

Eldorado Peak is perhaps one of the most amazing peaks in the state of Washington. I've seen it from just about every face which it does not cease to impress me. Even when climbing it in what I call "It's finest moments" during winter time I see yet another perspective of the mountains I have not seen before. This is what one would call a Cascade Classic which we had a perfect weather window for the climb.



An old Buddy of mine contacted me over the phone from my Mount Shuksan Climb which to my surprise it was Ski. We originally planned to climb the North Ridge of Mount Baker, but with all the fresh snow that poured onto the Cascades this idea was too dangerous. So we then wanted to attempt Sloan Peak which according to the Nation Forest Service website it said it was opened from the South Side. Fortunately that was not the reality...

Eldorado Peak in Winter
Eldorado Peak in Winter

A Great Day to Climb Eldorado

"What! The gates closed!" Ski said angrily as we approached the road to Sloan Peak. We both checked the website, so I'm pretty sure it was a mistake that someone posted. I had heard before talks about repairs in September which I figured it would be opened especially considering that it said they were opened. "Well let's go with Plan C" I told Ski excitedly as I knew Eldorado Peak would be an excellent alternative. Plus there is no bush whacking on this mountain.

We got to the trailhead at about 1:30 a.m. in the morning which we immediately tried to get some good sleep. I was very pleased to try out my new -20 degree sleeping bag which did very well that night. In the morning we woke up at 6:30 a.m. to start the climb.

Night from the Parkinglot
Night Time in the Parking Lot

We started out crossing the log to get across the Cascade River which was a little slick from condensation and rain. Soon after we found the trail that steeply climbs up Eldorado Peak. I told Ski "this is a pretty decent pace" which we were flying up the mountain in amazing time. After a while I was really pushing myself to keep up with Ski. "Hey wait a second, if your the speedy guy, why am I carrying the rope?" I told Ski. He happily took the rope and the climb from here on out was much easier.

Sunrise on Johannesburg
Sunrise on Johannesburg

We made it to the boulder field in about an hour (last time I was here it was many hours to get here). Now it's boulder time which we had about an hour or so of boulder hopping and minor scrambling to get to Roush Basin.

Scrambling up the Boulder Field
Scrambling up the Boulder Field

Water Falls near the Basin
Water Falls near the Basin
Purple Flowers
Purple Flowers
Hiking up towards the Basin
Hiking up towards the Basin
Ski Holding Up Mount Torment
Ski Holding Up Mount Torment
Ski with Johannesburg
Ski with Johannesburg
Looking Towards Mount Torment
Looking Towards Mount Torment

Cascade Peak from Eldorado
Cascade Peak Above

Once we got to Roush Basin we started encountering fresh snow which made traveling over the boulders a bit nicer in some spots. One of the guys we met up in the basin slept there all night without a sleeping bag and said it was one of the coldest nights they had ever had. It pays to carry the weight sometimes. The slopes near the ridge cross over spot started to get steeper which I decided it was time to bust out the ice axe. As we look behind us Ski announces "It would be a crime not to be out climbing in the mountains today!".

Roush Basin with Fresh Snow
Roush Basin with Fresh Snow

Point 6662 on Mount Buckindy
Point 6662 on Mount Buckindy
Mount Torment s Twin Summits
Mount Torment's Twin Summits
Looking towards Mount Pugh
Looking towards Mount Pugh

When descending down into the Eldorado Basin we had to be careful because of the loose snow and ice on the rocks. I was getting quite annoyed because my boot kept getting snow inside of it. I would have worn gaiters but they are torn to shreds from one of my adventures a few months earlier. The worse part about the fresh snow was the hidden snow holes in the rocks. There were a few spots I once again got more snow inside of my boots.

Hiking Down to the Eldorado Basin
Hiking Down to the Eldorado Basin
Mixup Peak and Magic Mountain
Mixup Peak and Magic Mountain
Looking towards Spire Point
Looking towards Spire Point

Eldorado Peak with the Moon
Eldorado Peak with the Moon

Ski Carefully Descending
Ski Carefully Descending

Although it was certainly hot out, Ski suggested that I put on my pants which I had forgotten that they have a strap to hold it down. This helped immensely. At the same time we decided it was time for us to rope up for the glacier. Once we got onto the Glacier we took turns breaking trail up the mountain. Eventually Ski and I became the main trail breakers as we got higher up. As we traveled across the Eldorado Glacier we became more and more excited about the views surrounding us. It was like walking into a winter wonderland.

Approaching the Cliffs near the Glacier
Approaching the Cliffs near the Glacier

Excited to be heading up Eldorado
Excited to for the Climb

Wildly Excited on Eldorado Peak
Wildly Excited on Eldorado Peak

Pressing on with Johannesburg in the Background
Pressing on with Johannesburg
Blue Haze over Glacier Peak
Blue Haze over Glacier Peak
Skirting Around the Ice Cliff
Skirting Around the Ice Cliff

It was wonderful to once again look back at Mount Logan which I climbed this summer as well as many of the other North Cascade Peaks. From here we crossed the monotonous flat glacier section until it started going back up the mountain and into a section I call "The Gap".

Eldorado Peak Panorama
Eldorado Peak Panorama

Heading up the Inspiration Glacier
Heading up the Eldorado Glacier

Heading towards  The Gap
Heading towards "The Gap"

Mount Logan s West Face
Mount Logan's West Face
Point 7733 Above
Point 7733 Above
Mountains to the SouthEast
Mountains to the Southeast

After the Gap we took a nice break for a few minutes and started ascending up the East Ridge. There was one crevassed section that had me a little worried about hidden crevasses. Fortunately it was not long, we immediately traversed onto the ridge itself which was glacierless. Ski then went back into leading position to break trail. Behind us I could hear that the climbers turned around due to cramps. After what seemed like 10 minutes they were already way down the mountain.

A Moment of Pure Joy
A Moment of Pure Joy

Wind Blown Rocks on the Ridge
Wind Blown Rocks on the Ridge

Klawatti Peak from Eldorado
Klawatti Peak to the North
Ski Tracks on the Eldorado Ridge
Ski Tracks on the Eldorado Ridge
The East Ridge
The East Ridge
Looking Down Below
Looking Down Below
Climbers Way Below Us
Climbers Way Below Us
Moraine Lake Below
Moraine Lake Below
Boston Peak Covered in Fresh Snow
Boston Peak Covered in Fresh Snow
Forbidden Peak s North Face
Forbidden Peak's North Face
Black Peak from Eldorado
Black Peak in the Distance

As we went up the ridge the traveling became a bit nicer because the snow was wind blown and did not stick to your boots and ice axe as much. But it was still a work out getting up. Eventually we reach the section that they call "The Knife Edge". I was very impressed with it's dreadfully scary looking appearance. "Just letting you know Ski, I have never done anything like this" I told my partner as we put on our crampons. The fresh snow made it look a bit unstable and only for the die hards. We decided to ditch our backpacks so make traversing easier. So I let Ski take lead on the ridge because he was feeling up to it.

An Incredible View to the East
An Incredible View to the East

Eldorado Peak s Dramatic Knife Ridge
Eldorado Peak's Dramatic Knife Ridge

Heading up towards the Summit
Heading up towards the Summit
Jack Mountain to the North
Jack Mountain to the North
Forbidden Peak and Buckner
Forbidden Peak and Buckner

As we climbed on it, I was amazed at how solid it was. Although it had a little bit of loose snow, as long as one made good foot placements, you knew you were going to make it up just fine. We swapped from on the ridge to on the edge of the ridge because it became so knife edge like. The exposure increased as I looked down below, but I felt safe because I had my ice axe planted in nice and deep. After a few more minutes of traversing we were on the summit!

Carefully Climbing on the Summit Ridge
Carefully Climbing on the Summit Ridge

Looking North Towards Dorado Needle
Looking North Towards Norado Needle

Beautiful Cornice Below
Beautiful Cornice Below

Johannesburg looking towards Dome Peak
Looking towards Dome Peak
Blue Ridges from Eldorado
Blue Ridges to the North
Thumbs Up!
Thumbs Up!

Ski was yelling in excitement as we took in the surrounding views. Because of the cornices and fresh snow we did not look around much on the summit as to not knowing where there might be a soft spot. We didn't stay very long because it was already quite late in the day and the sun was going to set soon. So we made our way back down the knife edge ridge.

Happy to have made it to the Summit
Ski on the Summit
Happy to be Here on the Summit
Myself excited to be on the Summit
Climbers heading up towards the Top
Climbers heading up to the Top

Eldorado Peak 360 Summit View
Eldorado Peak 360 Summit View

Looking Down the Knife Ridge
Looking Down the Knife Ridge

Light Contrast on the Ridge
Light Contrast on the Ridge

Heading Down the Mountain

The faster we got down the mountain, the better off we were. My pants had a bit of ice on them which now prevented them from covering the boots which now I was once again getting snow inside my boots. The snow was freezing at a very rapid rate making traveling more difficult. Ski and I were now racing down the mountain in a full rush to get off the glacier before the sunset. For the most part this worked out, although my shins got scraped up a bit from the ice and semi deep snow.

Spire Point in the Distance
Spire Point in the Distance
Crevasse we Passed By
Crevasse we Passed By
Looking South towards Glacier Peak
Looking South towards Glacier Peak

Further down the Glacier the surrounding landscape colors suddenly became much more dramatic with the lighting. Glacier Peak had a sinister grey color over it, and the atmosphere changed colors from orange to reds with greys and even pinks. I couldn't help but take out the camera even when we where supposed to be making good time (I got permission from Ski to do this).

Ski Heading Out
Ski Heading Out

Ski with a High Point of Eldorado
Ski with a High Point of Eldorado
Our Shadows while Looking East
Our Shadows while Looking East
Bonanza Peak from the Eldorado Glacier
Bonanza Peak from the Eldorado Glacier
Bonanza with Needle Peak
Bonanza with Needle Peak
Gray Atmosphere over Glacier Peak
Gray Atmosphere over Glacier Peak
Beautiful Evening Crevasse
Beautiful Evening Crevasse
Sunset on Spider Mountain
Sunset on Spider Mountain
Eldorado Peak during Evening
Eldorado Peak during Evening
Johannesburg with Spire Point
Johannesburg with Spire Point
Enjoying a Beautiful Evening in the Mountains
Enjoying a Beautiful Evening
Ski with the Sunset
Ski with the Sunset
Sun Setting over the Traids
Sun Setting over the Traids

Ski Hiking down with the Sunset
Ski Hiking down with the Sunset

Alpenglow on Magic Mountain and Mixup Peak
Alpenglow on Magic Mountain and Mixup Peak

Alpenglow on Spire Point
Alpenglow on Spire Point

Sunset over Hidden Lake Peaks
Sunset over Hidden Lake Peaks

"If I wasn't here, you would probably get back to the the trailhead by 12 a.m." Ski said in a laughing tone. "Your probably right" I replied with a smile knowing that every moment here whether idol or going down was never wasted. Once we got off the glacier I was quite dehydrated from the hard days work which we took a break next to a creek. We both enjoyed the cold creek water drinking out of the same water bottle not caring because all that mattered at that moment was getting some water in me. Then we had a snack, unroped, and got ready for the descent.

The sun had already set, which we wanted to make as much distance with the remained evening light. The cross over section was a bit sketchy on the way back up because the slabs were covered in ice. One of the slabs was covered with a thin layer of snow which I managed to use pressure to hold me up (which barely did the trick) with the thin amount of snow on the rock slab making it a bit tricky and a little risky. It was this, or the ice slab. After skirting my way up the slab we went over the cross over zone and into Roush Basin.

For the most part we managed to make good time going down the mountain, although looking for cairns and the pathway at times through the boulder field. I knew it pretty well from previous experience which Ski and I did very well using both of our navigation skills together. And who says you need a leader for a climbing trip to make all the decisions? But then again I guess it's true what they say "Great Minds Think Alike".

A few hours later we finally found the entry way into the woods which we knew that there was no way we would get lost by this point which is always comforting. Later down the woods we met up with the guys we met earlier on which Ski gave them a few items they dropped. A few minutes later we heard the rushing sound of the river which before long we where at the parking lot. We got to the car at about 9:30 p.m. which we were pleased to finally take a sit. We high fived and were excited to go home after a great day out in the mountains. This is a place I would certainly recommend to any alpine enthusiast who wants a great glacier climb with out of this world beauty. A Adventure that wins Two Thumbs Way Up!

Images


Comments


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Viewing: 1-6 of 6    

SKIWell done man!

SKI

Hasn't voted

This is an awesome TR. Thanks for being a sick partner buddy. Many more adventures to come!
Posted Oct 22, 2011 1:57 pm

Josh LewisRe: Well done man!

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks Ski, same to you! I hope to join you on another climb sometime soon.
Posted Feb 5, 2012 2:29 am

jordansahlsNice work!

jordansahls

Voted 10/10

way to get it done.
Posted Oct 24, 2011 4:18 pm

Josh LewisRe: Nice work!

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

Thanks Jordan. Had to do this a second time!
Posted Feb 5, 2012 2:30 am

Vitaliy M.Good work!

Vitaliy M.

Voted 10/10

Nice to see you getting it done in PNW Aaron! Hope you could visit CA sometime so we could do something together and remember old times!
Posted Oct 25, 2011 2:42 am

Josh LewisRe: Good work!

Josh Lewis

Hasn't voted

I agree that it's fun to roll with the good old times. For me the good old days are now. I'm glad I know this at a early age.
Posted Feb 5, 2012 2:31 am

Viewing: 1-6 of 6