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davidk

[TR] Eldorado - NW Couloir 5/25/2009

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Trip: Eldorado - NW Couloir

 

Date: 5/25/2009

 

Trip Report:

Despite repeated proclamations by both Kevin and I over the past few months that "it's rock season now," we nonetheless found ourselves jonesing for some steep snow/ice. Conditions looked good leading up to Memorial Day weekend, so we decided to have a go at the NW Couloir route on Eldorado. The other TRs on here of previous climbs of the route were all in October or November, so we were a bit skeptical as to the relative amounts of snow and ice we would encounter.

 

The Eldorado plateau was a zoo over the weekend, but there was plenty of space for everyone to play. Kevin, Peter, and I hiked in on Sunday afternoon to a bivy at the base of the east ridge. Shoutout to the cute climbing ranger, Erin, who we met on the way up. :wave:

 

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We got up at the crack of dawn and set off across the Inspiration Glacier. We followed the approach detailed in AlpineDave's TR: rap/downclimb the obvious gully at the base of Eldorado's north ridge (between Eldorado and Dean's Spire). A single 30m rap from a fixed pin at the top of the gully got us to snow that we could downclimb. (In late fall parties make 2-3 raps)

 

Traversing the Inspiration in the morning

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Coming up to the gully to cross to Eldorado's west side

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Kevin rapping as Peter downclimbs. Note the second rap station with blue webbing at right-center (a little hard to see).

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After traversing back towards Eldorado's west face for about 200 yards, we got a glimpse up the route. Boy did we score! :rocken:

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The route had two sizable steps of water ice (grade 2/3) separated by a bomber alpine ice luge track. The top 200-300 feet consisted of steep, soft snow. The walls of the couloir were guarded by steep and deep snow, making it hard to access the rock for pro. Plus, most cracks were iced up, so we only bothered with rock placements for belays.

 

Kevin leading up the first water ice step

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In the luge track: firm snow and alpine ice made for quick movement

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Kevin leads up the second water ice step while Peter intercepts falling ice and I belay

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Looking down the couloir

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After the second ice step we simul-soloed the steep snow to the top of the couloir. Peter topping out:

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A quick trip up the knife-edge staircase of the east ridge got us to the summit, just under six hours after leaving camp.

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So our suspicions that this would make a good spring route proved true, and we were rewarded with excellent conditions and super fun climbing. Props to Peter - this was his first time ever on ice, and he did well.

 

Gear Notes:

60m rope

2 screws (10 cm and 16cm) - could have used 1-2 more

cams BD #1&2; yellow and orange TCUs; red Mastercam; set of nuts - used most cams, no nuts

1 picket - came in handy for one belay

 

Approach Notes:

Snow from about 4500+ feet up. Skis are highly recommended - we didn't use any flotation, and put in enough postholes for a border fence.

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FUN! The route, despite the slogging, was well worth it.

 

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Sweet bivy looking at our climb from last year:

 

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David striking a pose in the morning sun...or zipping up his pants?

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I'm starting to think the N cascades are a little more photogenic than my home playground of the stuarts

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Cramped belay. However the grim faces are probably from them realizing that I am going to shower them with ice and snow

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Cruising the alpine ice chute

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Extreme camera tilt! In the wrong direction!

 

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Joke of the trip:

Whats the difference between David and a blue bag?

 

 

The blue bag is actually going home with the ranger! :lmao:

 

 

Edited by kevino

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Nice, you got some!! Great instinct on that route too!I have a feeling some good ice is still to be had in the dark corners.

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In the AM when we saw you heading to the col we were wondering if there would be enough ice or where else you'd be heading (Was scrambling on the Towers). Wasn't thinking the ice would be in. And nice timing popping up right ahead of us up the knife edge. Glad the summit shot came out and thanks for taking ours.

 

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Nice work you guys. I love that route, it is good to know that it is there in the spring too.

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Nice work guys! And David, I'll bet you never thought you wished you were a Blue Bag before!

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Awesome! It's almost June and that looks like some spectacular alpine ice climbing. As Wayne said, great instinct on going for that route!

 

:rawk::brew:

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Did the route on Sunday (5/31/09) and its still in pretty good shape. The warm temperatures definitely make it a little sketchier, but the ice is still there and takes good screws. Go get some!

 

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Hey Matt, thanks for the shower....ice showers that is =)

 

Nice to meet you and Chad on the route.

 

Eiji

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Hey Eiji,

Great seeing you guys out there as well! Sorry about the ice, but we all lost when that really big one came down from above (my left elbow is nice and swollen from a softball of ice). We have a few pics of you guys, PM me if you want them.

 

There were only two teams on it, but about 100 people on the east ridge!

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Any thoughts on what shape this route will be in this coming Saturday, given the weather we're supposed to be having? Still good and fun, or starting to get sketchy?

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Friggin gorgeous pics! I need to stay away from this site this time of year because it makes me really miss the Cascades.

 

Been dying to get some alpine action but the wx is going to be crap the next two days. Mtn biking on the western slope it is then.

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Hey all,

Planning some alpine routes over the next 2 weeks and looking to possibly start with Eldorado on Wed/Thur. Do you think it's still hanging in there? Also, which way did you guys approach? Eldorado Creek or Sibley Creek? Thanks a ton.

-Tom

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We did the Eldo approach. All snow from about 4500 - 5000 ft. Basically, the first boulder field is snow-free. Then above that, we got on the avalanche debri field on the climbers right, which was hard and compact, then at about the 5000 ft level, mash potato....hit it early in the morning or later in the evening, unless you plan to bring flotation.

 

The route will be in. In the ice pitches, I sunk 13cm screws no problem and even 16 took in few times I used it.

 

I remember the sun hitting the upper parts...above the ice pitches at about 11:30am. That was the first ray of sun while in the couloir, so the route stays in the shade most of the day.

 

Good luck!

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If anyone is planning on doing it this weekend I would say break it into two days. First day, get to the snow early and/or bring skis. 2nd day, get to the base of the couloir by first light. We topped out of couloir around 1130 and that was too late. The upper part gets baked by the sun and will rain ice, rocks, etc on you, and many can attest it can hurt. Plus the more firm the snow the quicker travel. It gets light around 430 ish, so plan accordingly.

 

That would be my advice.

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I heard some rumors that there was a bad washout that complicates driving to this area. Any truth to that?

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