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[TR] Eldorado - NW Couloir 3/1/2015


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Trip: Eldorado - NW Couloir


Date: 3/1/2015


Trip Report:

This is a route that I've thought about almost as long as I've been climbing, but it is also one that's been difficult to find in good shape. I tried half-heartedly a few times in the fall many years ago but then it sort of slipped off the radar until this present winter (that wasn't). Suddenly, alpine conditions and weather were some of the best we've seen in years (and the worst ski conditions), and I had a hall pass and willing partners in Chuck and Tim. I guess it was time to slog back up to the Inspiration and see how conditions were.


Tim, ever the fit young man, thought my plan of a two day climb was a bit banal for a climber of his ilk (I'm reading between the lines), and planned to meet us at the base of the east ridge of Eldo at 0630 Sunday morning. Chuck and I did the predictably grinding approach on Saturday and had plenty of time to shiver, melt snow, and pretend to sleep while our betamid flapped incessantly in the stiff NW wind. I think Tim had the right idea and sure enough he strolled into our camp only a few minutes late, and ready to get it done. Amazing!


Thanks to Dave Burdick, the approach to this climb is quite a bit easier than described in Nelson, and after a bit of walking and a 60m rap we were on the glacier only a couple hundred yards from the base of the route. Maybe an hour from camp? Once on route, there wasn't much of the straightforward steep snow climbing you would think this route would offer in the winter. Though the climb is relatively short (~5p,300m?), steep bulges, aereated ice, and funky snow kept us on our toes (even if we couldn't feel them). Chuck was up for the challenge and led the harder sections with style, leaving the wallowing and funky snow to the choss dawgs.


The end of difficulties is only about a rope length from the summit, and once we sorted gear, we made the quick walk to the top- maybe about 7 hours after leaving camp? The wind was rising and the sun had gone so we didn't linger, heading back to camp and the flask of Hunter without delay. So many of the other high peaks in the North Cascades are involved to get off of that it was a treat to stroll unroped to the bivy. All that remained was to finish the whiskey, pack up and trudge down. Impressively, Tim stayed out in front the whole way and we made it to the car about 10 hours after leaving camp that morning (14-15 hour day for Tim). After getting home, I went took out the trash and it was already lightly raining in the Skagit. For some reason that always makes me smile.


It is a great route in a spectacular position; I can see why it made it in the Select guide.






If you find a stick on the Inspiration this summer, you can thank Chuck:





We ran into Jason4 and Krissy up there, and I couldn't resist taking a Japanese tourist photo of them:



Jason and Krissy heading down after climbing the east ridge as a day trip:































Gear Notes:

two tools, helmet, screws, pickets, crampons


Approach Notes:

One 60m rap from Eldo-Dean's Spire col off two pins (lowest col from Eldo summit). There is supposedly two 30m raps, but we didn't see the second station (buried?). A short walk takes you to the base of the route. Rope up on the glacier, there be cracks/'schrunds.

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