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Author Topic: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak  (Read 3236 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« on: 02/15/15, 11:26 PM »



Mount Torment from Eldorado Creek Basin.


On Sunday 2/15, Ross Freeman and I skied Eldorado Peak from the Cascade River.

We drove to the normal trailhead and found the trail snow-free to the base of the 4000-foot boulder field.  We encountered a couple snow patches on the lower part of the boulder field that required careful stepping, but most of this section was snow-free.  About half-way up the main boulder field, we found continuous snow and switched to skis.  Good skinning to the Roush-Eldorado divide and continuing to the Inspiration Glacier.

At an icy section just below the summit of Eldorado, we left our skis and cramponed to the top. During the descent we found generally very good skiing, better than I've had on most of my spring trips to the area.  The descent of the boulder field was "above average" in skiability.  For scenery, this may have been the prettiest climb of the peak I can remember. 

We saw a few climbing parties spending a night out, but no other skiers.  Our round-trip from the car took about nine hours. 

Here are a few pictures:


Skinning the upper boulder field.


On the Roush-Eldorado divide.


A pair of climbers begin their descent back to the road.


Crossing Inspiration Glacier.


On the summit of Eldorado Peak.


Tepeh Towers.


Skiing high on Eldorado Peak.


Skiing below the Eldorado Glacier.


Descending Eldorado Creek Basin.


Restless steeds await the boulder field descent.


« Last Edit: 02/16/15, 08:23 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
danpeck
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #1 on: 02/16/15, 05:04 AM »

Lowell. Thank you for this timely post. It's 5 am and I  on my way. Can't resist such amazing terrain.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #2 on: 02/16/15, 06:12 AM »

Wonderful, Lowell. Thanks for the stoke, glad you had a great day!
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mikerolfs
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #3 on: 02/16/15, 07:22 AM »

Wow, driving to the trail head in February.  That must be unusual.
Thanks for the great report, Lowell.  Dan, I might be a few days behind you!
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jtack
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #4 on: 02/16/15, 08:13 AM »

Looks like a fantastic day in the mountains, thanks for the great pictures.
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Good2Go
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #5 on: 02/16/15, 11:44 AM »

Awesome!  Thanks for sharing.
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jakedouglas
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #6 on: 02/16/15, 12:32 PM »

Great TR.

I noticed that I don't see your partner wearing a harness and I recall that you skied this route solo last year as well. Never having been beyond the Roush-Eldorado divide, I'm not familiar with the ensuing glacier travel, aside from what I could see and photos online. My understanding was that it is more serious than something like the Sahale "Glacier", and not as serious as on say, Baker or Rainier. Still, I thought it was common practice to carry the equipment and perhaps rope up, at least for climbers if not skiers.

My current general framework would lead me to mixed results right now. Less snow than usual might leave crevasses less filled in and thinly bridged, and temperatures are not warm enough to create obvious sags. However, generally firm and consolidated snow beneath surface do have the benefit of being less likely to break in the case of a bridged crevasse.

You always seem to be analytical in your decision making processes around mountain travel. Do you mind sharing what gives you the confidence to go without a harness and rope on this route, if that is indeed the case?

Thanks
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #7 on: 02/16/15, 12:57 PM »

Good question Jake.

You're right that we didn't take glacier gear on this trip and I have done the trip solo in the past. I don't necessarily recommend either practice.

I've carried glacier gear on ski trips where I've deployed it fully (wearing harnesses, roping up, pre-rigging prusiks, even belaying). I've also carried glacier gear and only partially deployed it (e.g. wearing harnesses without roping up). These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, depending on my judgment of the risk.

In case of the standard route on Eldorado, I've spent enough time up there to feel okay about skiing the route without glacier gear. I've climbed the peak something like 20 times over a span of almost 40 years. I've seen the glaciers in all seasons and have a pretty good understanding of where the crevasses are (and aren't).

But as I said, I don't necessarily recommend this approach.

I appreciate you bringing up the topic, because it's good to challenge complacency. We also have to be careful about relying too much on past experience on glaciers, because as we all know, our glaciers are changing.

It's good to discuss this stuff and if the discussion leads to me admitting the error of my ways, that would be a good thing. Thanks.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #8 on: 02/16/15, 01:11 PM »

I should also mention something about this winter season.

If this had been an extremely cold, dry winter so far, with little new snow even on the high glaciers. I might have made a different choice on Eldorado yesterday.

However, it has been a warm, wet winter, with lots of snowfall on the higher elevation peaks (which I consider Eldorado to be). I think the glaciers on the standard route on Eldorado have received quite a bit of snow this year, and also a fair amount of rain, which should lead to thick, strong snow-bridging.

That, combined with my knowledge of the crevasse patterns up there, gave me confidence to travel as we did.
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jakedouglas
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #9 on: 02/16/15, 01:48 PM »

Thanks for explaining. Your answers are about what I expected.

After posting my question I managed to find a couple photos of late season conditions including this one: http://photodb.danielarndt.com/2003/2003-08-eldorado/110-1075-p.eldorado.4.jpg

If this is a representative example of typical crevasse formation here, it seems that a person would be very unlikely to cross something that wasn't well filled in this time of year, assuming you gained the ridge via the notch rather than from the bottom. Is this what you did?

It's a borderline situation and neither going with or without the gear seems unreasonable to me. I'll definitely be tempted to leave it at home in the future for this route.

I wonder what a ski guide would do? My guess would be to carry a rope in the backpack and have everyone wear a harness.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #10 on: 02/16/15, 02:08 PM »

After posting my question I managed to find a couple photos of late season conditions including this one: http://photodb.danielarndt.com/2003/2003-08-eldorado/110-1075-p.eldorado.4.jpg

If this is a representative example of typical crevasse formation here, it seems that a person would be very unlikely to cross something that wasn't well filled in this time of year, assuming you gained the ridge via the notch rather than from the bottom. Is this what you did?

Yes, my normal ski route is to gain the ridge at the obvious notch in the center of the photograph. If you cross the glacier on the looker's left, rather than the looker's right, you tend to be in a high-snow-accumulation area with low glacier flow. You sometimes see cracks in this section in summer, but they are generally quite narrow. The glacier doesn't flow very fast here.

Once on the ridge, you generally stay to climber's left, near the rocks. The number and seriousness of the crevasses increases dramatically if you wander too far to the right.

Quote
I wonder what a ski guide would do? My guess would be to carry a rope in the backpack and have everyone wear a harness.

If I was a ski guide, with all the responsibility that entails, I think I would too.
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andyski
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #11 on: 02/16/15, 03:07 PM »

Good to see you had at least some of the same view that those of us who have skied with Ross have gotten used to: And that is of Ross way the hell ahead on the uptrack while looking like he's barely breaking a sweat.

Beautiful trip!
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runcle
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #12 on: 02/16/15, 08:23 PM »

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
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kciari
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Re: February 15, 2015 - Eldorado Peak
« Reply #13 on: 02/17/15, 10:49 AM »

Great photos and good discussion re: glacier gear. Thanks for posting! I'm stoked to try this myself now.
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