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Grant789

[TR] El Dorado - NW Couloir (Attempt) 11/21/2021

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Trip: El Dorado - NW Couloir (Attempt)

Trip Date: 11/21/2021

Trip Report:

 

With the recent warming then cooling, Chris and I tried making a weekend attempt of the NW Couloir after getting inspired from a mountaineers trip posting. Intended to get to the toe of the east ridge on saturday, climb the couloir and get out sunday. We didn't realize how difficult a dumping of 10 inches of snow on Thursday would make that. Left the TH Saturday morning at 8am and took the standard approach up to El Dorado. The mountaineers left slightly before us and we took their path through the boulders, which had just enough snow to hide all the holes, but not enough to support a step (post hole leg breakers galor). Ran into the mountaineers at the end of the boulders and started breaking trail. It was difficult and slow plunge snow shoeing on 10-12 inches of powder. We were quite exhausted and running out of daylight, so we made camp at around 6,400 feet. We were naive and thought the jetboil would be a good stove choice, but it didn't work that well in the cold up there (maybe there is a trick to that?). Woke up the next day and started plunge snowshoeing up to the Inspiration Glacier, but we were smoked and it was slow progress. We discussed that we'd either have to stay for a 3rd day on limited food or be crossing the boulders late at night so decided to turn around after getting onto the Inspiration Glacier at 7,500 for some great views of forbidden et al. Ran into the mountaineers group on the way down, who also decided to turn around given the slow travel. The way down was perhaps more brutal than the way up. The boulders were slicker and trickier to go down trusting a higher force step would hold and you would break your leg. The trees after was a navigation of slick steep roots that chris fell 6 times and broke his poles. TLDR: my quads are burning today.

Great views and sufferfest abound. If your eyeing to get it soon and snow holds off there is a nice track for you.

Notes: we underestimated how much 10-12 inches of recent snow would slow us down in travel time and added gear weight (snow shoes and avy gear). Having extra food and a better stove system would have gotten us a third day up there. Maybe I need to hit the stairmaster hard for winter mountaineering. Avoiding the climb and doing a ski ascent would have been rad because there was hero pow up there.

 

On the boulders

IMG_6898.jpeg.fa99267d0379ab6ac1a04f562d894dbf.jpeg

 

Dropping into the basin with the mountaineers group

IMG_6912.jpeg.6913870d2cd0c3dd094d83222f071243.jpeg

Tent view

IMG_6928.jpeg.5c46277823ebf5b3ddd0f62a0edf7bcf.jpeg

 

El Dorado Glacier to the Inspiration Glacier

IMG_6938.jpeg.37ee0c99c39dae90a24f75a4e9ee2e11.jpeg

 

Gear Notes:
Light Rack, Ice Screws, Avy Gear, Picket

Approach Notes:
Standard approach.

Edited by Grant789
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Sounds like a standard winter attempt.  Routes that go easily in a day in the summer can be way harder and frustrating in the winter.

Good job taking advantage of the stable weather over the weekend and thanks for sharing the photos!

Edited by Bronco

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Although I don't use a canister stove in winter, I have heard sitting the canister in a little water helps.  But I think the MSR isobutane mix performs much better in cold.  Maybe use that fuel?

And yes, you need no new snow for that route to be "fun".  Fresh snow means you go skiing instead!  But you know that now.  Good effort for getting up there, not an easy slog with fresh snow in the boulders!

For comparison, the mountain biking on Galbraith was pretty great this weekend. :wink:

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A very clever friend of mine rigged up this to conduct heat from the stove down to the fuel canister.  It worked great for us up in Alaska and I will be building my own version patterned after this.  But in a pinch you can use some hot water from your stove in the plastic cup.  It also helps to keep your fuel warm...meaning sleep with it or at least keep it insulated and out of the snow. 

IMG_3582.jpg.01e2e83df247a887af4f7d66c3565b26.jpg

  • Rawk on! 1

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MacGyver would be proud!

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16 hours ago, mthorman said:

A very clever friend of mine rigged up this to conduct heat from the stove down to the fuel canister.  It worked great for us up in Alaska and I will be building my own version patterned after this.  But in a pinch you can use some hot water from your stove in the plastic cup.  It also helps to keep your fuel warm...meaning sleep with it or at least keep it insulated and out of the snow. 

 

I think I'll need to try something like this. The cold seems to also just eat fuel up super fast as well, and the water cup does help but is not great if you forget to take it out and the can freezes into the cup!

Is that just normal aluminum foil on the sides?

What's the base made of? 

Thanks!

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The base is super thin (3mm?) plywood wrapped in shiny silver metal tape, with two elastic loops sized to loop over the valve of either size of cannister. I copied the base from a backpackinglight post, although I cant' find it atm. And yeah plain aluminum foil wrapped many times, and don't try to tape or glue it together it'll burn into a sticky gross mess. It actually turns out that bpl is where the real stove nerds are, and they mostly use non-integrated stoves (e.g. pocket rocket deluxe), which work surprisingly well these days unless you're making water in a gale. This article: https://backpackinglight.com/canister-stove-fuel-warming-techniques/ has a huge rundown of different methods, I've been playing with the heat reflector/wind screen recently, it works surprisingly well.

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love it. some of my best trips were total "failures".  beats sitting on the couch.  interesting discussion around stoves, usually people are just talking about elevation...i guess white gas is better when its really cold.  the majority of the times I was in a really cold situation that what we were using.   not that i've been in a ton of cold situations, but we never had a problem with white gas. 

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