This somewhat contrived route climbs the steep ice face climbers right of the standard East Ridge route and offers a nice alternative for climbers with a bit of ice climbing experience. The route is in best condition in early fall (late September - mid October) before the first snow storms arrive. The climber should expect several pitches of snow and ice to 60 degrees.
North Face of Johanesberg Peak
Many climbers have memories of the Eldorado Creek Trail indelibly etched into their conciousness. One friend still shudders as he recounts a one day climb of the standard route he did 45 years ago. Some climbers, however, appreciate the directness of the trail which eschews switch backs. Naturalists will be treated to a lesson in plant ecology as the approach passes through zones that start in PNW rain forest, through subalpine trees, to alpine meadows and finally across an expansive glacier. Every climber will enjoy views of the impressive 5,000 foot North Face of Johanesberg.
Drive HWY 20 to the east end of the town of Marblemount. Turn onto Cascade River Road and drive to the Eldorado Creek Trailhead at MP 19. The road is typically driveable through the end of December although land slides and blowdowns can block the road earlier. Check the NPS road closure Web page for road conditions: North Cascades National Park Road Conditions Web page
The Eldorado Creek trailhead is not entirely obvious. Walk the road downstream. In approximately 100 yards look for path leading to a large tree spanning the river. The tree is large and is pretty easy for a Cascades river crossing. Once on the opposite bank follow flagging until able to pick up the trail.
Gaining the toe of the Eldorado Glacier
The trail climbs steeply up the forested hillside breaking out into a talus field. Follow cairns, generally staying right. Pick up the trail again until it peters out into rock slabs (may be snow). Hike up and left until able to drown down a reasonable gulley into the Roush Creek Basin.
Hike up the moraine aiming for the toe of the Eldorado Glacier. Cross the glacier heading towards the East Ridge of Eldorado.
Where to camp
The base of the east ridge offers good bivi sites.
The NE Face Excitable Boy traversing onto the NE Face Excitable Boy on the NE Face
Follow the East Ridge route until able to traverse climber's right above steep cliffs to gain the Northeast Face. Climb several pitches up to 60 degrees, joining the East Ridge route below the summit ridge. Climb the knife edge ridge to the summit. A harder variation would be to traverse past the start of the east ridge, contouring around to base of the Northeast Face. Several pitches of steep rock leads to the upper ice face.
Descend the East Ridge.
5-6 ice screws
Nice trip report here: