Eldorado Peak Climb - North Cascades National Park
Eldorado Peak has long been one of several mountains in the Pacific Northwest used to introduce climbers to the North Cascades and provides a training ground for those learning glacier travel skills. We offer climbs to both the routinely climbed East Ridge of Eldorado Peak and to the more remote and seldom visited West Arete of Eldorado Peak. The East Ridge is suitable for beginning climbers, while the West Arete requires participants have the ability to follow 5.8 efficiently and to move steadily over a long alpine rock climb.
East Ridge of Eldorado Peak: We reach the Eldorado Glacier and eventually the East Ridge of Eldorado Peak by hiking up a steep climbers trail just east of Eldorado Creek, crossing a large boulder field, and eventually climbing to a ridge before scrambling down into the Rousch Creek drainage and the Eldorado Glacier. Most groups camp somewhere below the quickly retreating Eldorado Glacier, and then use nearby snow fields and the glacier itself for training to use the ice axe, crampons, and climbing rope (if participants don't know this already). We then move from this camp up to the base of the East Ridge. The climb itself usually takes about 4 hours from the base of the East Ridge and involves moderate snow climbing and scree walking. You won't soon forget the summit ridge, which is a knife-edged affair with snow slopes falling steeply on either side as you climb the last couple hundred feet to the summit.
West Arete of Eldorado Peak: Much more difficult than the East Ridge, the West Arete of Eldorado Peak is nonetheless a very moderate and enjoyable climb on reasonably sound rock. There are multiple ways to approach the West Arete of Eldorado Peak, and our final choice is based on what other peaks will be climbed in combination with Eldorado Peak. If planning to also climb Dorado Needle or Early Morning Spire, we often approach via the Dordo Needle-Eldorado Col, and if doing only the West Arete, we often come from the Triad-Eldorado direction. Either way, we generally need a full-day for the approach, a full-day for the climb, and then one final day for the exit. The route itself is not overly sustained, offers several really good 5.7 to 5.8 pitches, and involves over 3000 feet of climbing. The West Arete is one of several climbs in the Marble Creek Cirque, which has seen an increase in guided traffic since this became a popular area for training and examining guides as part of the AMGA certification process. Once reaching the summit we descend the East Ridge of Eldorado Peak.
ItineraryEldorado Peak is a good destination for a basic mountaineering seminar or for climbers seeking a 5 or more day tour of some really good moderate rock climbs. The most basic itinerary usually requires 1 day for the approach, 1 day for the climb, and 1 last day for the exit. Other climbs in the area which we guide include: the Southwest Face of Early Morning Spire (Grade III+, 5.9), the Northwest Ridge of Dorado Needle (Grade III, 5.4), the Southwest Buttress of Dorado Needle (Grade III+. 5.7 w. 35° snow), and the Northeast Face of Eldorado Peak (II+, 50° snow and ice).
QualificationsEast Ridge of Eldorado Peak: This is a good climb for beginners or those looking to expand their glacier travel skills or simply seeking the summit of Eldorado Peak. Like Sahale Peak this is a good introductory climb for people new to the North Cascades. As the approach is long you need to be in very good physical condition to do this route.
West Arete of Eldorado Peak: Participants should be able to climb 5.8, and perhaps more importantly move quickly and efficiently on lower 5th class terrain. You should know how to use an ice axe, crampons, and know how to belay. You want to be in excellent physical condition for this committing route.