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On May 13th, we headed to Cascade Pass, Washington. Eldorado was our objective for the day. After a long approach and a gorgeous descent, I can say the area is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.
Starting the weekend early, Louie and I surprised our moms with early Mother’s Day visits, and then returned to Washington Saturday evening. As per our usual adventure shenanigans, we scrambled and piled everything into the car within an hour of getting home, and began the long drive north. We arrived at the trailhead around 11:30/pm, with our friends Steph and Chelsea, meeting us shortly after. In the back of the car, we settled in for a brief nap.
We woke up at 3/am and were crossing the creek next to the road by 3:45/am. It wasn’t horrible, but proved to be challenging in the dark. We didn’t find the second crossing right away and spent time bushwacking. (Beta: the second log crossing at this time in 2018 follows directly straight onto a large flat log from the first one.) That episode was followed by a few hours of steep hiking that I quite honestly don’t remember. Maybe I was asleep.
The part I do remember quite well is the boulder field, which is unfortunately no longer covered with snow. We boulder hopped for too long, putting skins on around 4300k. Cascade Pass provided spectacular views as we pushed onto the Eldorado Glacier.
The skin up to the Eldorado Glacier was quick, with a small descent down a narrow chute. We opted to just boot pack as it seemed more efficient; it’s maybe 150 feet long. Eldorado Glacier had enough snow that we didn’t see any crevasses. At 9/am it was still a bit icy in places.
We took a short break for lunch in the middle of the Inspiration Glacier, enjoying the sun and spectacular views. We headed up the East Ridge of Eldorado, reaching the boot pack to the summit about noon. There is one small crack that was starting to show on the upper part of the ridge that was easily avoidable — we did bring a rope and glacier gear; wore our harnesses but did not rope up at any point.
This year there were two small cornices on the summit ridge that we avoided, following a nicely dug out traverse (thanks to the guide who did this!) followed by a steep section that lands you on top. Not quite the knife edge summit I imagined from the photos, but still a fun spicy section to remind you that you are in the alpine. We experienced wind throughout the day, but once on the summit the wind died down completely. What a gorgeous peak!
After taking in the views, we skied off the top and headed down the glacier. The snow was a bit overcooked, but skied much better than I expected. After lots of thigh burning turns, we were down in the boulder field putting our trail runners back on. I’d say downwards boulder hopping is not my favorite, especially with skis on my back. If you find yourself about to downclimb the wet, rocky section – don’t. I’ve been told there is a much better way skiers right of that descent. I can’t confirm the other option, but I can say that downclimbing a two move wet V0 with tired legs carrying skis is harder than it looks. Thought of burgers and beers for dinner helped me make it through!
I’m stoked to have been able to finally make it into the Eldorado area. With endless mountains to explore, I will go back to ski all the other peaks!