Alpine Climbing in the Eldorado-Inspiration Zone
The North Cascades offer some of the wildest climbing in North America. Don't be fooled by "low" elevations on the summits - these peaks rise 6-7000' above the valley floors, quickly crossing into the alpine, and are the most heavily glaciated range south of Canada.
The Eldorado region is characterized by these glaciers. One runs from the very summit of Eldorado Peak, and every other summit in this zone is completely surrounded. Because of the extent of the approach, most of the climbs listed here are three-day commitments. Often times climbers will take a longer itinerary (4-6 days) to get in as much climbing as possible.
If you're interested in skiing Eldorado Peak or the Isolation Traverse, check out my ski itineraries: LINK.
East Ridge of Eldorado Peak, 8868' / 2703m
One of the classic introductory routes in a beautiful setting. Glacier travel and a long snow and rock ridge leads to a knife-edge snow summit. No prior experience necessary but extremely physically taxing. 2 days, and can be climbed up to a 3:1 ratio. More can be read about here: LINK.
South Ridge of Klawatti Peak, 4th Class
Added here to show the full range of possiblities, Klawatti's South Ridge is often climbed during the Into to Alpine trip. 2:1 ratio.
Northwest Buttress of Dorado Needle, 5.4
The Inspiration and McAllister Glaciers surrounding this rock route give this climb a unique feeling, and its just far enough away from Eldorado to feel isolated and committed. Sometimes climbed as a warm-up for the following routes. 2:1 ratio.
Southwest Buttress of Dorado Needle, 5.7
This is a hidden gem of the zone, a moderate multi-pitch alpine rock climb. 2:1 ratio.
West Ridge of Eldorado Peak, 5.8
This is the zone's test-piece of alpine climbing. The West Ridge is remote, committing, and loooonnnggg. We'll spend a full day making the approach across the Eldorado and Inspiration Glaciers, a full day climbing, and a final day descending. Worth the approach hike to the climb all for itself. Max 2:1 ratio.
Southwest Face of Early Morning Spire, 5.9
A true alpine classic - listed in both existing "Select" guides today - the Southwest Face of Early Morning Spire is remote and hard. Like Eldorado's West Ridge, this climb is worth a trip all for itself. 1:1 ratio.
Intro to Alpine Climbing
This five day trip is a tour of the best introductory alpine climbs in the zone. Depending on the weather and the team's fitness, We'll climb the East Ridge of Eldorado and the South Ridge of Klawatti. For our third day we'll climb Austera or a number of the Tepeh Towers. Instruction includes glacier travel, crevasse rescue, basic rock protection and belay techniques, and rock rescue. 5 days, 2:1 ratio.
Hidden Lakes-Eldorado Traverse
This is an incredible cross-country trek from Hidden Lakes to the Eldorado Basin in three days. We'll spend only half of the first day following a trail, then travel across high alpine meadows to our first camp beneath Triad Peak. In the morning we'll continue contouring around Hidden Lakes Basin to a scenic ridge camp. On the final day we'll cross the granite slabs of Eldorado Basin to the climbers trail and descend. This trek does require the use of rope to descend one steep section on Day 2, but no other climbing gear is necessary, allowing for light packs and happy travels.
Add a day and stay in the restored Hidden Lakes Lookout on Day 1. And/or add a day at the end to top off the trek with an an ascent of Eldorado Peak - LINK for more information about that climb.
Best done August-October, 4:1 max ratio.
I offer these trips as a guide-employee of The Mountain Bureau.