The Eldorado Icefield - An Intro to Mountaineering

Phil and Kellen signed up for Pro Guiding Service's Intro to Mountaineering in the North Cascades.  I know I'm biased, but I think this is the best-value trip of its kind offered.  This year, I started exploring a zone I'm calling the Eldorado Icefield, where the Eldorado, Inspiration, Klawatti, and McAllister Glaciers all meet to form one of the largest glacial areas not located on one of the Cascade volcanoes.  I think it offers it all - thought-provoking glacial travel and rock routes from 3rd to 5th Class, all wrapped up in a 5-day itinerary.  Plus, once you get past Eldorado Peak you can usually count the number of other climbers on one hand.

Hiking up to the Eldorado Glacier is steep, and typically take most of the day.

This time I opted for a steep-snow variation to the summit of Eldorado Peak.

The West Ridge of Eldorado Peak is a good introduction to alpinism, with low technical difficulties,
a lot of physical difficulties, and fantastic views - like this sunset from camp.

Traversing across the Inspiration Glacier.  That's Glacier Peak on the left horizon, and Eldorado Peak on the right.  We stopped just a few minutes later to spend 1/2 a day practicing crevasse rescue.

Downclimbing the Klawatti Notch on our way to Austera Peak.

On the summit of Austera, with the 3rd/4th class ridge we had to
traverse in view over his right shoulder.  That's also Forbidden Peak in
the background - check out the weather photos coming up.

A cool surprise was finding a 47 year-old register from a traverse team,
presumably on skis.  We found this on the gendarme next to the true summit.

There were for sheets of paper and a pencil.  But it was late in the day, so we
didn't have time to reverse the last 70' of climbing to place the register on the

Funny how it looks different traveling in the opposite direction, eh?  Climbing
back up the Klawatti Notch on our way to camp.

Sunset.  Our camp is just off-frame left and about 10 minutes awa

Our last day out - we tried to get on the North, and then the Southeast, Ridges of Klawatti Peak.  But big overhanging moats between the Klawatti Glacier and the rock had us stumped.  We settled for four pitches on a lower ridge tower and a fun glacial circumnavigation.

That evening we watched the weather roll in.

The dark wall was heading for us, and the thunderstorm hit right at sunset.

Crystal clear skies in the morning as we left.  That's Klawatti Peak in the background.

We descended into a marine layer just as we exited the glacier, and then 45 minutes from the car:

Trips like this are available almost anytime.  Want to spend less time on snow?  Then we'll head over to Boston Basin.  Want to increase the rock climbing difficulty - we'll climb Triad Peak, the Dorado Needle, Early Morning Spire, or the West Arete on Eldorado instead.  Our Cascade summers typically last until the end of September, so grab a few friends and email me or contact Pro Guiding Service to book a trip.