Eldorado Peak - 8876' - East Ridge Class 2
Klawatti Peak - 8485' - North Ridge Class 4
Day 2 - Eldorado Peak
Day two started with a decent sleep in and a quick reshuffle of gear. We started up the Eldorado climbing route by crossing the log over the Cascade River and slogging up the steep trail. This took hours as we had to hike through the dense forests, scramble up the long boulder field, and hike up the ridge to cross over into the next drainage to the west. We reached snow and roped up for the Eldorado Glacier. Staying right, we climbed moderate snow and got to the incredible ice cliffs formation.
We continued across the long flat portion of the glacier and reached the east ridge of Eldorado sometime in the afternoon. We were also greeted with our first views of Klawatti. After stashing some gear, we continued the easy ascent to the summit of Eldorado, passing over the infamous knife edge at the top.
From the summit the views towards Forbidden Peak, Klawatti Peak, and Johannesburg Mountain were all absolutely fantastic. There are so many great peaks to climb in this area. We began the descent off the east ridge. I decided to avoid the knife edge going down and took the rock on the other side while Josh went down the snow. We quickly met up again and returned to our gear stash. We made good time roping up again for the long traverse we had ahead of us. Since Klawatti Peak was our next goal, we started traversing the Inspiration Glacier up high and walked below the impressive north face of Eldorado. The sun got lower and the lighting we had that evening made for some of THE most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Glacier Peak to the south had such great alpenglow I was in awe at the beauty of the area. We crossed over a sketchy snow bridge and continued down to the cool just to the SW of Klawatti Peak where a perfect camp site was flattened out on some rocks next to the glacier.
Enroute, we had to do a sketchy descent on steep snow to cross over a steep cornice. Upon reaching the col, it was a new high for me as it marked the best place I have ever camped surpassing my previous best camp spot I had last August in Bear Basin in the heart of the Wind Rivers of Wyoming just north of Gannett Peak. We took in the beauty of the sunset with lots of photos, set up the tent, melted water and cooked dinner. Josh got some great twilight photos of Forbidden and our tent while I cooked.
Day 3 - Klawatti Peak
We woke early to find a great sunrise on Eldorado Peak however some high thin clouds diffused the light too much for any real good lighting. We ate breakfast and roped up for the short glacier walk on the upper end of the McCallister Glacier. The plan was to climb the north ridge of Klawatti, traverse across its west face below the Smokestack then climb a gully on the SW face to reach the summit. Let me tell you though, this is one long way around for this peak. Looking back on it, we should have just climbed straight up from where our tent was which would have saved us hours. We began scrambling up the north ridge once we got to the Klawatti/Austrera col and quickly had to negotiate some very exposed fun knife edge sections. Some good routefinding was required to keep the route at third class. We got to the point where we had to traverse the west face, which took for ever since I kept trying to stay high above the vertical cliffs at the base of the face. There is a series of good but narrow ledges you have to find to safely traverse the face and I will save you the trouble by saying, you have to descend all the way to the top of the cliffs to find the best ledges. We had to keep focused the entire time as we continually were routefinding. We were traversing 65 degree loose rock on 6-12 inch ledges with a 100 foot cliff below. It took a mental toll for sure. Once we finally traversed the west face to get around the smokestack, we found a nice rib separating some of the many gullies on the SW face and climbed solid class 2+ to class 3 to the summit. I have never been on a peak surrounded by so much glaciers except for Rainier. But this peak was different than Rainier since there was world class views and rugged peaks everywhere. In my opinion, the North Cascades are the best alpine mountaineering in all the lower 48 states and I can say that without bias ow that I have been extensively all over Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
We returned the route which took much less time now that we knew the way and quickly packed up our gear and roped up to traverse back across the Inspiration Glacier. By now a series of high clouds were blocking the sun which was nice for the glacier walk. We weaved through the big crevasses and made good time getting back to the Eldorado Glacier to which the ensuing hike out was uneventful. A half gallon of milk and Costco muffins were amazing upon reaching the Shell Station in Marblemount.
THIS TRIP WAS DA BOMB!!!!
Josh told me many times he thought this area is the best in Washington state, and since I firmly believe Washington has the best alpine mountaineering, the area around Forbifdden Peak including Boston, Logan, Goode, Eldorado, Dorado Needle, and the whole Ptarmigan Traverse is likely the best in the country outside Alaska!
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the photos