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Kyle M

[TR] Eldorado Peak - NW Ice Couloir 11/06/2019

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Trip: Eldorado Peak - NW Ice Couloir

Trip Date: 11/06/2019

Trip Report:


Anthony and I jumped on the bandwagon and ran a lap on the NW Ice Couloir of Eldorado on Wednesday. The approach was snow free through the boulder field and crevasses were easy to navigate on the glaciers. In the couloir, we encountered absolutely perfect conditions: fat WI3 ice steps, bomber snice. We never had to pull any thin ice or mixed routes, which seems to be an apparent miracle for this route. Everything about the route was great: the climbing, the position, the condition. It was simply the best alpine climbing we have ever done! The descent got a little post holy at times, but not too bad for a day in November! It took us 5.5 hrs to the base of the route, 8 hrs to the summit, and 11.5 hrs car to car. Go get it!


We met a soloist, Shuan, out there. If he sees this, well, rad send!


Nice cold wet log to cross in the dark.


Jberg getting the first light.


Warming up on the Inspiration Glacier.


First view of the route.


Approaching the first ice step.


Typical ice conditions.


So much fun!


That famous knife-edge.


Summit views.


Heading back down.


Towers upon towers!


Ice ice baby!

Gear Notes:
7 screws, a few tricams and nuts. Pickets could be helpful if you feel the need to protect all the snice. 70 m rope did the rappels in 2 rappels, may have been 3 rappels if just a 60 m rope.

Approach Notes:
No snow until maybe 5500 ft. Glacier is cruiser.

Edited by Kyle M
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Climbed it yesterday and found slightly different conditions. Due to Tuesdays precip, there was a fair bit of mostly well bonded wind blown snow on the glaciers, this made for slower travel. The route got a lot of wind transfer, and most of the cruiser neve for other folks was deep wallowing and for us. The ice steps were still tons of fun with the occasional spin drift to the face.

Dare I say the thing was picked out.


I figured instead of writing yet another NW Couloir TR I'd just comment here...

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I love that the cc.com effect is back.  Many moons ago it was a common thing to see a crowd the next weekend on whatever had a bunch of online traffic during the week.  :very_metal:

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Yeah I feel like every other day the last couple weeks on Instagram or some other social media platform I was running into a post about the route. I suppose @PorterM and I are responsible for that, even though its in Selected Climbs. The most recent reports I found on this route were from the dry 2015 year including yours, @JasonG. The rest were from a decade or more ago on cc.com and old blogs. I hope there wasn't any actual crowding on the route. As there's quite a bit of shit coming down on you while your seconding or belaying. Would hate to be climbing under another party or two.

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Climbed it last Sunday (11.10), and there were two teams behind us. Another team was rumored to have bailed on the approach; and heading down across the toe of the E Ridge we spoke with a party of two planning to climb the couloir the next day. 

I was very glad we were first to the route. Indeed there is a lot of shelling from just one’s partner—let alone from multiple  teams above—and debris accelerates pretty fast in there! I imagine that the fun cruxes, and easy but quite run-out snice sections would have been less fun to lead while being pelted constantly by the little stuff, and while the bigger stuff hums eerily past your head. We tried to be gentle, but obviously there’s not much to be done. 

Beautiful climb in an absolutely perfect alpine setting. I feel lucky to have had the chance to climb it, and I’ll definitely join the chorus and say that it’s one of my favorite climbs ever. 

Edited by Nolan E Arson

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I agree about the quality.  Eric Sweet and I made what I believe to be the second ascent in November 2002, in  'sportier' conditions than currently and it is one of my all time favorite mixed winter alpine climbs.  Up there with NE Buttress of J'berg in winter.   

I have some photos of our ascent on summitpost.org: https://www.summitpost.org/northwest-ice-couloir/688985 for comparison.  The cruxes were climbing steep, thin ice past big chockstones.  I even belayed in a cave formed by one.  

We were both climbing on Black Diamond Shrikes and Charlet-Moser S-12s, which did not fit Eric's first gen Scarpa Freneys.  He lost a crampon below the the last steep ice pitch below the summit.  Rather than surrender the fantastic lead, he climbed the rig with one crampon on the ice, the other boot scumming the rock.  

Edited by DPS
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On 11/16/2019 at 8:48 AM, kmfoerster said:

The most recent reports I found on this route were from the dry 2015 year

Routes like these aren't consistently in all the time so it makes sense that once it gets reported as "in", the masses will appear!  It took me several gos to make it happen over about a decade or so.  Good on everyone knocking it off so efficiently!

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