Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Eldorado Peak/Inspiration Glacier

Memorable trip, successful summit with a steep and varied approach. Very soft snow during the day, but nice weather all around.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • River crossing - There's pink flagging up marking the crossing and route back to the sign post. After the first log crossing, follow the dried creek bed to another flag and go left over another fallen log. The big crossing will be after this. All feet stayed dry! There's a bunch of devils club immediately after the crossing, but most of the spikes are now worn off (thanks to previous climbers). You'll go through a brief patch of mud and over another fallen tree that's awkwardly high up before getting to the sign post.

    Two people carefully crossing a big downed log across the raging cascade river with lots of smaller trees and branches in the foreground
    The main crossing which requires maneuvering around some smaller trees and branches before getting on to the log.

    The climb through the woods and boulder field are fairly straightforward. The path around the boulder problem is muddy but fine with lots of veggie belays. Just keep looking for cairns in the boulder field.

    Snowshoes - We brought them and used them from a bit before the Roush/Eldorado ridge all the way to camp. I suppose you could drop them to save weight, but I preferred not postholing a ton on the way up. The snow was very wet and mushy.

    Roush basin crossing - We crossed a bit further down from the gully and butt slide on a rock to the snow. On the way back, we climbed up the gully, which had very nice, firm steps already in place.

    Two people carrying heavy packs using an ice axe each while climbing up a steep, snow filled gully.
    Climbing up the gully. Photo by Ashish Rawat.

    Glacier & climb - No crevasses, drop off on either side of the knife's edge isn't super steep right now (though I still wouldn't want to test it)

After getting rain/snowed out from last weekend, most of our group decided to reschedule to give us the best chance of success between a better weather window and available permits. While there was a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast, none materialized, and besides there being some strong wind gusts at camp and at the very top, the weather was nearly perfect.

This climb has such varied and challenging terrain, but it made it feel way less daunting than simply counting down 5700ft of gain by mentally splitting it up into sections: the climb through the woods (which felt very similar to the Mt Teneriffe old trail), the boulders to the ridge, and then Roush creek basin to the east ridge camp. Each come with their own challenges. I preferred hopping the first section of boulders, but others in our group thought that was the worst part.

Once we got to the snow, right after the boulder field and waterfall crossing, it was very soft and not compacted. Even with snowshoes, it was a challenge. I highly recommend anyone going on a climb or scramble to bring snowshoes with teeth that go all the way around the outside. I've been a few climbs this year where people who brought snowshoes made for flatter terrain (the type with a tube all the way around the outside) struggled a lot on steeper slopes. Save yourself the extra effort and mental anguish by bringing the right gear.

Six people roped up on snow with massive snow covered jagged peaks in the background.
Roped up on the Inspiration Glacier

Camp at the east ridge of Eldorado has some rock walls built up, though there's still a bunch of snow. Despite there not being much wind in the forecast overnight, there were strong gusts from midnight to 2am

Climbing team of three, roped up on the inspiration glacier at sunrise with long clouds over several jagged peaks in the North Cascades.
One rope team starting at sunrise

Our group started climbing at 5am and everything was still pretty firm until around 7/8am when we were done with the climb.

At the top of Eldorado Peak starting our descent. Photo by Ashish Rawat.

After packing up camp, we left at 9am. Going down was a slog, but there were a few glissade shutes I decided to take advantage of. I postholed my entire leg towards the end of the snow, as that route seems to go right over water. This could be challenging as snow melts more.

Our final battle was showing up to a downed tree across the Cascade River Road. After another climber showed up with a random ball hitch, we were able to use some feats of engineering to attach two ropes to the log to pivot it enough to get our cars through. Overall, I rate this as a 4/5; really stunning views and nice climb, but that approach is pretty brutal.

White woman wearing shorts and a teeshirt sitting on a tree that has fallen over a gravel road with heavy forest on either side.
Me, sitting on the log blocking our exit. Photo by Ding Zhou