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Eldorado Peak

Eldorado peak is an 8,900' peak in the North Cascades, in Washington (the state, not DC) near Canada.

I've wanted to do this climb for a long time.  Josh, my climbing partner from Glacier Peak was down for whatever so he joined and provided his GPS expertise while I brought the rope.  Single people are so great; they're always available!  Josh is almost my age and still as strong as an ox.  Single guys have more time to train too!  Being an Eastern WA native he hasn't been poisoned by his life in Ballard (Seattle) yet so he's great fun to climb with.  Interestingly, we met one time halfway up Mount Hood, both climbing solo.  We saw each other again in the Timberline parking lot after, chatted and started climbing stuff together.  That same day I also met two more people who I ended up climbing with later.  I know that may seem like a sketchy way to meet climbing partners but, my background in law enforcement helps me assess people pretty quickly, aka. I'm probably REALLY judgemental, or desperate for climbing partners. 

This guy at the TH wasn't sure he wanted to leave right away.  A pretty healthy specimen for our neck of the woods.  Luckily it appeared to be a bachelor so we didn't have to deal with any maternal aggressiveness. 


Hwy167 to 405 to the I-5 in logs.  On the way back the water covered the logs so we wore crampons during the crossing with great success.

 After the crossing we bushwhacked and route hunted our way out of the trees to the boulder fields.  These were especially fun because for around 1,000' of elevation gain or so we had to hop boulders while searching for cairns while watching the GPS track.  There was no trail to follow.

We also decided to belay each other across some thin snow bridges that passed over raging runoff streams; the penalty for breaking through was too high for us to trust to fate.  

The snowfield below high camp. Our tracks are in the one o'clock area in the snowfield.  The North Cascades are legit! We saw NO OTHER climbers during our climb.

 Above the boulders we found our way through the snowfields and discovered the rather hidden gully that accessed the glacier.  Here we roped up.

We drug into high camp at 7,200-ish feet around six pm where we found glacial runoff to drink and we ate as much of the food we brought as we could stand.  At my age dinner includes a generous helping of medicine and dietary supplements.  I hate growing old!

Tentless camp.  You can see that clouds were hard to find.  It was SO warm that we decided to leave tents in the car.  The rock walls were unnecessary as there was almost no wind.
One last look before bed


The knife-edge summit awaits!

 On the summit push I punched through a small crevasse (more like a bergschrund) up to my knee or so.  Probing with my ice axe verified that more steps in the same direction would probably end with me pulling myself out of a crack while Josh worried about where I had left the car keys. 

Pictures don't do the steepness and narrowness justice

 Eldorado is so known for its narrow summit ridge.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me rethink this stupid hobby of mine.  The ridge is wide enough for you to just place your feet together but not much more.  The summit is too steep for roping up and too soft for pickets so we un-roped a la Mt Hood for the final summit which only has room for one climber at a time.  Definitely an area where falls are strictly forbidden.


After belaying across the snow bridges its time to stow the rope

Back on the road, as we were walking out a few rangers stopped us and asked us for our permits which, I admit I had no idea that we had needed.  North Cascades National Park requires a free permit to track and limit access.  Luckily they let us off with a warning.

That is amazing to look at Jeff. Makes me feel a little bit more sane knowing you are out there doing that heh. Thanks for posting!

Nice trip I am glad you still tackle the climbs and its also nice the rangers let you get away with a warning...

The NW had such great alpine touring opportunities!

The river crossing on awashed logs seemed the most dangerous part of the trip!

Per travel along the summit ridge:  did you consider using the "Jump Belay" technique commonly resorted to for similar situations?

I always leave my keys at the trailhead.  I learned this the hard way in my youth, from one of the many possible consequences circumstantial to keys getting lost, botched key exchange trips,  keys left in the possession of others back at camp, or carried off by other party members.

Curious, why do you refer to being poisoned by city life in Ballard, or is this just a comment about urban culture in general?


Ed, the jump belay was my initial idea as well; each man over the opposite side of the ridge. Josh talked me out of it because of the precise timing required. 

I tease him all the time about being a city guy. 😉

FromSagetoSnow said:

Ed, the jump belay was my initial idea as well; each man over the opposite side of the ridge. Josh talked me out of it because of the precise timing required. 

It is actually a pretty simple belay.  Only one person at a time should be advancing on the rope if this technique is likely.  The biggest problem is fatigue, inattention or hesitancy slowing the response of the arresting climber, otherwise timing is not important.  As long as you jump before the falling climber yanks you off your feet, then all will be fine.  Though I admit, it is totally against all instincts to leap off a precipice under the pretense of safety.  Quite the adrenaline rush, however.  Just have to keep an eye on the climber and keep alert for the FALLING! shout.  Like all mater of technical alpine climbing, the team should practice the maneuver, to assure its success.


Looks like a fun trip, Jeff. Thanks for sharing some beautiful pictures from your mountains.

May 22, 2022
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