Eldorado Peak/Inspiration Glacier

A truly inspiring glacier climb with a gnarly "kinda wide" log crossing, a strenuous approach through talus and boulders to camp with 4,000 ft of elevation gain, and ending with an exhilarating knife-edge snow ridge leading to the true summit. Views into the North Cascades are tremendous. Times: 5-6 hr trailhead to camp, 3-5 hr camp to summit.

Getting There

Drive I-5 to just north of Mount Vernon, then east on SR 20 (North Cascades Highway) to Marblemount. At Marblemount, and turn right onto Cascade River Road. Follow it to a large parking area on the right at about mile mark 20 and elevation 2,100 ft.

APPROACH

From the parking area backtrack downstream about 90 feet on the road (look for possible flagging), looking for a clump of three trees crossing the river, or one large log. Cross the river and walk about 100 feet perpendicular to the river until you find a climbers' trail.

Go right, or east, upstream on trail. Proceed up and slightly right in open timber following climbers' trail. Stay to right (east) of large windfall and traverse up so that Eldorado Creek is within earshot. After about 1500 feet of elevation gain, reach talus slopes. Ascend talus (cairns and flags; do not cross Eldorado Creek) with large cliffs on the left. Ascend in he center of the talus field and into cliffs with a climbers' trail to upper boulder field.

Ascend up and right (east), picking up segments of fair-to-good way trails into a large basin at about 5,500-5,800 ft. Move up onto ridge on left to small, but level, camp spots (6,100 ft). Look for way to drop down into Roush Creek Basin—the best spot found north along ridge. Campsites in Roush Creek Basin between 6,100 and 6,400 ft.

ASCENT ROUTE

From Roush Creek Basin, proceed up snowfields and Eldorado Glacier just left (west) of rocky ridge. Follow this to broad flat area of Inspiration Glacier at about 7,500 ft (there are good camps near the rocks). Traverse Inspiration Glacier around to north and follow broad snow covered ridge to top (8,868 ft). The summit ridge is a spectacular knife-edge of snow.

DESCENT ROUTE

Descend the climbing route.

TRIP PROFILE

SEGMENT TIME (HR) ELEVATION GAIN (FT)
Trailhead to Camp 5-6 4,300
Camp to Summit 3-5 2,468
Summit to Camp 2-3
Camp to Trailhead 3-4

EQUIPMENT

Standard glacier equipment.

NOTES

  • Finding the log crossing at the parking lot, and the climber's trail on the other side, is very important.
  • This climb is considered fairly grueling and strenuous because of the elevation gain over uneven ground. An early start on the approach may help.
  • The trail is strictly a climber's trail, but has improved in recent years.
  • If the weather is good, the views are spectacular.
  • Because this area sustains heavy use, do not camp in Eldorado Basin.
  • The glacier may remain passable through September, making this a good late season climb.

Information for LEADERS

Eldorado Peak is occasionally climbed as part of the Inspiration-Mcallister-Klawatti Ice Cap Traverse so please check that route/place listing to ensure that there is not a party climbing Eldorado Peak the same day as your climb.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Basic Alpine
  • Seasons: July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast.
  • Difficulty: Basic Glacier Climb, Strenuous 3, Technical 2
  • Elevation Gain: 6,768 ft
  • 8,868 ft
  • Land Manager: North Cascades National Park
    Stephen Mather Wilderness
  • Parking Permit Required: None
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
Map
  • USGS Eldorado Peak
  • USGS Forbidden Peak
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
Activities

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  • Eldorado and Klawatti Peak
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