Trip Report    

Eldorado Peak/Inspiration Glacier

Early season climb with soft snow and whiteout conditions

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Bring floatation for traveling on the soft snowpack and be prepared for no bootpack. River crossing was straight forward with a log crossing. Upper section of the boulder field is covered in a layer of snow making it harder to navigate safely.

We were a two person team looking to take advantage of a weather window with a Sunday to Monday trip. Our primary goal of the trip was to scout conditions for a climb later in the season.

We stopped by the Marblemount ranger station around 9:30 AM to pick up our permits and get some beta on the route. When preparing for the trip, we could only find one recent trip report that mentioned soft snow conditions and suggested the need for floatation. We brought along our snowshoes, but after discussing the conditions with a ranger, we decided to leave them in the car. We regretted this choice as the day was filled with postholing in the soft snow conditions.

We started climbing at 11:30 AM. From the parking lot, we traveled west down the road about 400ft before turning right into a faint trail to where a group in the parking lot had scouted a downed tree that provided an optimal creek crossing at 48.49362, -121.12365. We were able to keep our feet dry for all of the creek crossing, leaving our water shoes in the car.


We bushwacked through the first forested section of the climb, weaving over and under downed trees, reaching the boulder field around 1:10 PM at 48.50344, -121.11949 at just over 4000ft. Staying climbers right on the boulder field enabled periodically avoiding some boulder sections by taking a small trail. The rocks were not too slick, but we were glad to have opted not to bring trail runners, which would not have had sufficient grip. Around 4900ft, the boulders were covered in about an inch of snow, slowing our pace.


The snow coverage increased over the next 500ft, making foot placement precarious in order to avoid punching through gaps in the rocks.


We were the only group on the mountain that day and groups from the previous day turned around early due to weather, so there was no boot pack at the top of the boulder field. We struggled to find a good stream crossing with some parts of the stream covered in snow. We eventually weaved through some trees to a snow bridge over the stream that one of us probed across with a pole and no pack before both crossing. 

After over 3 hours in the boulder field, we knew we were no longer going to make our original goal of camping in Roush Basin. We climbed (and postholed) through the soft snow until visibility started to decrease, so we decided to stop and set up camp around 5,700ft at 6:15 PM. 


Later in the evening, the weather cleared, granting us some gorgeous views from our secluded site!


We set our alarms for 4AM, prepared for a long hard day in the deep snow and hoping for firmer conditions in the morning; however, we awoke to whiteout conditions.


Without any bootpack and a lack of floatation, by 7:30AM when the whiteout conditions had still persisted, we decided to head down the mountain, making it back to the car in 4 hours.

Despite not getting as far into the climb as we hoped, we enjoyed the opportunity to scout the route and the solitude of being the only ones in the basin.