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NWAC Avalanche
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| |-+  May 2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  May 7-8, 2010, Eldorado
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Author Topic: May 7-8, 2010, Eldorado  (Read 1826 times)

Posts: 150

May 7-8, 2010, Eldorado
« on: 05/09/10, 10:20 PM »

My nephew, Owen, and I climbed Eldorado on Friday/Saturday.  He finished his first year at Colorado Mountain College and is visiting us for 5 weeks before heading up to Alaska to work in the salmon canneries.  FYI, the college is located in Leadville at 10K surrounded by 14'ers and he's enrolled in the Ski Area Operations program.  Yes, I'm jealous.  

In any case, Owen and I hope to get a few trips in while he's visiting.  So far the weather and my work schedule have not aligned.  Although the weekend was shaping up nicely in terms of weather, the avy danger was not to our liking.  Because of this, I picked Eldorado, figuring that it's a pretty safe trip given the low angle slopes and non-committing route.  If the snowpack was better than predicted, we hoped to head across the Inspiration Glacier and do some exploring.  The picture on NWAC was not encouraging:

We left a bit late on Friday and headed up with pleasant weather and high hopes.  The talus field was partially filled with last week’s snow, making for a particularly mighty struggle through slide alder, hidden rock abysses, and general good Cascade bushwhacking.  Owen’s opinion of the Cascades reached a nadir.  

We finally reached continous snow and put on skins about 4,500.  We skinned to 7,500 on the Eldorado Glacier before stopping to set up camp.  We were perched high on a massive glacier with a 360 degree view of one of the most beautiful spots in the Cascades.  Even more amazing, we didn’t have a breath of wind the entire night.

The next morning we woke at 6, ate a leisurely breakfast, and headed across the glacier to the base of the east ridge of Eldorado.  It was a beautiful morning ski with excellent skinning conditions.  Most of the ascent up the ridge is less than 30 degrees and we weren’t too concerned about avalanches.  Except for the large crown on the Inspiration Glacier documented in the Scurlock photo, we didn’t see any nearby evidence of slab avalanches.   Around 8,400 we had to ascent a slightly steeper slope and decided it would be worthwhile to dig a pit.  The snow was soft with no crusts or layers to a depth of 4 ft.  Around 4 ft the snow became denser, but even then there were no obvious layers.  We did find a layer at about 16 inches that failed cleanly with a couple wrist taps.  Based on this observation we stayed very close to the ridge past the steeper area.  

We hiked the last couple hundred feet to the summit up the narrow ridge and enjoyed a pleasant 45 minutes on the summit, again with no wind.  With views of rugged mountains in every direction, crevassed glaciers, warm sunshine, and not a soul in sight, Owen declared the Cascades superior to the Colorado Rockies.  The crown on the Inspiration removed any discussion of heading out towards Klawatti.

The ski back to camp was decent on wind packed powder.  Below camp the snow was typical May mush.  We need a few warm spells to corn things up.   The talus field was just as bad going down as coming up and I took a major header into a rock that could have been pretty bad if I wasn’t wearing my helmet.  The rest of the descent passed without further incident.  All in all, a great start to the spring ski season.  Hopefully, Owen and I will knock off a few more in the next month or so.

* Moraine_Lake_and_Forbidden_Glacier.JPG (58.29 KB, 448x336 - viewed 791 times.)

* Owen_on_top_with_Primus_Austera_and_Klawatti_in_background.JPG (161.17 KB, 1000x714 - viewed 790 times.)

* Scott_skiing_down_the_east_ridge_of_Eldorado.JPG (87.47 KB, 1000x713 - viewed 826 times.)
« Last Edit: 05/10/10, 09:02 PM by Scottk » Logged

Posts: 255

Re: May 7-8, 2010, Eldorado
« Reply #1 on: 05/10/10, 10:40 AM »

Glad you guys got out!! Eldorado is a classic summit, with an amazing  view.

Keep us posted on Owen's PNW tick-list. Hopefully the weather will cooperate more and give you some better options. There's no shortage of stuff to do.
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