Fall tends to be my least favorite season for climbing here in the pacific northwest. One can check the weather, plan for all the possibilities and somehow the Cascades seem to still find a curveball to throw at you.
I set out to climb Eldorado Peak in the North Cascades National Park since it is one of the last few still easily accessible portions of the park at this time of year. Oddly enough the weather report remained constant for the entire week and so I set out with far more confidence than I should have allowed myself.
The Small Log I Used To Cross The River
According to the trail reports I could find for Eldorado Peak there should have been a substantial sized log that I could use to cross the river. However, the base of the instructions for the east ridge trail broke down immediately once I arrived at the trailhead. I am not sure if the river had changed course, or, if there was some intentional changes made to the layout of the road, but the large log that everyone mentioned was clearly missing.
If you are looking for a way across, park at the parking lot and head straight towards the river. There is an obvious trail through the brush and then do what you can to locate a crossing point.
After around half an hour of searching for an alternate way across the river I finally settled on one small log that I could locate to get me across. It was slick, tiny and certainly not ideal but it worked. Once across the log it was fairly easy to locate the small sign indicating the beginning of the trail.
The trail up the first hill is unremarkable but incredibly steep. Just be prepared for a few hours of drudgery and try to do it in the dark so you can leave the daylight for the actual climbing. The real fun will start once you have reached the boulder field around 4,000 feet.
First View From The Boulder Field
Looking Back Across The First Section Of Scrambling
One Of Several Waterfalls
The first section of the boulder field was easy to navigate despite the fact that many of the rocks had iced over. It was the second half where things started to get a little hairy. Due to the snowfall from the year there were several inches of snow covering not only the boulders but also the gaps between them. For around an hour and a half I tried and failed to carefully scramble across the rocks and instead was constantly post holing in between them. All around this section felt like a nightmare.
After reaching the area where the waterfalls are and managing to find a way across them the day only got even rougher. The snow quickly became several feet deep. Normally this would have been of no issue, but there were two distinct layers. The top one had formed a near ice like structure and was worthy of crampons while the bottom layer was weak and powdery. For every time I stepped down I would feel secure and good to go but then as soon as my full body weight would shift to that foot I would immediately post hole up to my waist.
Until I reached the ridge that allows access to the Roush Basin at about 6,000 feet the post holing continued. It was rough going and incredibly slow. At the same time as I was trying my best to focus on my steps a very different weather system was rolling in around me. Quickly the day went from partly sunny, as mountain weather forecast had suggested it would be, to nearly white out conditions.
At this point with the snow conditions and the changing weather I decided it was best to enjoy what view I could and then head back home.
First Portion Of Trail
The Trail Is Very Steep
More Of The First Portion Of Trail
Views Of Some Unnamed Peaks
Very Snowy Ridge Before Roush Basin
Enjoying a Well Deserved Snack
I Was Able To Get This "View" Of The Eldorado Glacier's Base. Getting Down Into Roush Basin Seemed Extremely Unsafe With The Conditions.