Dorado Needle Northwest Ridge
crossing the McAllister glacier view from camp
I had planned on climbing Dorado Needle last summer along with Eldorado and Klawatti peaks in one day. Due to mushy snow and difficulty getting off Klawatti, my partner and I only summited Klawatti and Eldorado. We wanted a rematch! We left early Saturday morning and got our permits at the Marblemount ranger station. The hike in was the usual steep climbers trail, boulder fields, and snow to our camp at the base of Eldorado's east ridge. We considered going up Eldorado since we had plenty of light, but decided to save our energy for Dorado Needle and perhaps Austera Peak the next day. The wind became stiff and chilly and during the night it clouded up and threw a couple showers of rain at us. We awoke Sunday morning to zero visibility and decided to sleep until the weather cleared. With a late 9:00 a.m. start we roped up and crossed the Inspiration Glacier to the col next to Tepeh Towers (climbers left). There was a lot less snow than last summer, so the crevasses were more numerous. We dropped down onto the McAllister glacier and tried to work around the crevasses to the base of the northwest ridge of Dorado Needle. The bergschrund had a snow bridge climbers right which allowed us to go directly onto the rock of the northwest ridge. There was two pitches on mostly sound rock with some fun mid 5th class moves (hand traverse and au cheval)to the summit. We were unfortunately socked in by clouds on top, but everything cleared by the time we regained the glacier. We decided against the long slog to Austera and thought sleeping in our own beds sounded like a great idea. The hike out was long, especially heavy packs going down the seemingly endless boulder field, but a great climb in a beautiful area.
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