Ken’s High Five — Part Two, Eldorado Peak
With beautiful weather conditions, great company, and a hefty amount of training in preparation, our three-day ascent of Eldorado Peak was one for the books. Eldorado Peak is in North Cascades National Park, surrounded by peak after iconic peak.
This rugged climb includes one of the most strenuous approach days in the cascades. A tree trunk river crossing, a steep, direct, climber’s trail, and boulder field scramble make this a classic Cascade climb.
Ken on the approach with Mt. Johannesburg in the background.
We spent our first day prepping gear in Seattle, stopping by the ranger station in Marblemount, and approaching base camp. With multiple base camp options, Eldorado provides the opportunity to select your preferred scenery as well as length of summit day. We started on the steep climbers’ trail in the woods and progressed out of the trees through alpine meadows. After descending a steep gulley, we found ourselves selecting a base camp in Roush Creek basin at the base of Eldorado Glacier.
The next morning, after an alpine start, we found ourselves nearing the classic knife-blade summit. The timing felt almost perfect; we topped out on Inspiration Glacier as the sun began cresting the skyline to our east.
Sunrise from the Inspiration Glacier
We carried on toward the final summit ridge as light filled the sky. We ascended the glacier in style — happy that most our heavy gear was left in our tent at basecamp. Roped up, we carefully ascended the snowy knife blade ridge step by step all the way to the summit. Stellar weather and spectacular views persuaded us to take our time before starting our descent.
Ken on the ridge.
On the knife-blade summit ridge of Eldorado.
Back to camp by 9:30 am, we had time for a nap and an afternoon of snow school. We covered anchors, knots and hitches, and self-arrest; all important skills to know as a mountaineer.
Day three wrapped up our trip. We broke camp and began reversing our burly approach to base camp. We began chuckling about how steep our approach trail was — if there is one positive, it is definitely the most direct way up the mountain!
Descending the boulder field, top, and steep climber’s trail, bottom.
After our climb, we reflected on our experience. The wilderness cleared our minds and made us recognize what is important. The act of climbing challenged our bodies, and the clear mountain air re-invigorated us. It is these types of experiences that make us continue to return to wild places and challenge ourselves in beautiful alpine environments.
Ken nearing the final river crossing to the parked car, at last!
Ken just completed his fourth summit in two weeks. With Adams, Baker, and Shuksan summits, the completion of Eldorado leaves only Glacier on his mission to complete five summits in a three-week period. At 60 years of age, he is truly showing that you are never too old to “make it happen”!
~Words and photos, Madness Guide Arthur Herlitzka