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September 6, 2023
The Eldorado Area is in similar late-season, bare conditions as other alpine areas in the Cascades after a hot and dry summer: glaciers are exposed as blue ice or previous seasons' compacted snow with very little of last winter's snow remaining, so bridges are scarce and untrustworthy. Travel to the bivy area at the base of the East Ridge and beyond on the Inspiration Glacier requires navigating around and over many open but very visible crevasses; expect longer times than usual to get places. The bivy area has reliable running water after midday, and the toilet has been just been emptied!
The East Ridge route will require using the talus-covered dry slope on climber's left, although note that if climbing on rock directly from the bivies one will encounter several short steps of 4th and low-5th class. Large crevasses transect the upper glacier, and the knife edge to the summit is exposed ice and hard neve.
Rangers once again remind climbers that leaving human waste anywhere but in the toilet is absolutely unnacceptable and enormously disrespectful to the greater climbing community. Blue bags must be packed out and thrown in the trash - they cannot be thrown in the toilet or crevasses.
July 31, 2023
Crossing the Cascade River at the trailhead was relatively easy with low water levels but expect to get your feet wet if you cross using the path directly across from the trailhead.
There are plenty of water sources along the approach trail. Expect late season conditions on Eldorado. Crevasses are beginning to appear on the lower Eldorado glacier at 7,000 feet. Climbers should also expect to encounter crevasses in the flat area just before the east ridge bivy sights. There is running water at the east ridge bivy sites.
The upper portion of the East Ridge of Eldorado, starting at approximately 8,600 feet is mostly bare ice. Multiple parties turned around on this portion of the route due to icy conditions and not carrying ice screws. The area of the ice is where the traditional “knife edge” snow arete is encountered. However, the ice can be easily avoided if desired by climbing an easy class 3 scramble just to the south or climber’s left of the ice section.
No camping is allowed at the Eldorado Parking Area, which is true for all trailheads in the National Park.
July 5, 2023
Eldorado East & North Ridge
There are multiple ways to cross the Cascade River at the trailhead. Water levels can fluctuate throughout the day and increase with higher temperatures. It is best to scout out each option, determine which crossing works for you and your party, and plan accordingly for the descent. The approach is snow free until you reach the rock slabs underneath the toe of the Eldorado Glacier. Multiple water sources along the approach past the boulder field.
The East Ridge bivy sites are snow free and the composter toilet is functional. As a reminder, the toilet is located just below the bivy sites in the rocky ridge. Water sources are limited at camp, but there was some running water further down this ridge.
Crevasses are starting to become more prevelant and growing with warmer temperatures. The East Ridge climbing route is primarily snow travel with a few areas navigating around crevasses and a couple steps onto rock. The knife ridge leading to the summit consists of a well established boot pack on good snow. The North Ridge climbing route currently has a collapsed moat at the start of the climb which makes transitioning from glacier to rock straightforward. This could easily change with warmer temperatures and make it a difficult transition. The climbing route from there is snow free and you can choose to transition back onto the glacier finish on the classic East Ridge route or stay on looser rock to the summit.
September 20, 2022
It feels like fall (and snow) is just around the corner in the high mountains. There are many small crevasses that must be crossed or travelled around just to get to camp at the base of the E Ridge; use caution and remember that these will be hidden after the first significant snowfall. There is still running water near camp but it may be frozen and unusable in the early morning.
The E Ridge route has its usual late-season bergschrund and smaller cracks that can be bypassed by gaining the talus on climber's left.
Access to the Tepeh Towers col and Dorado Needle are still possible but require end-running crevasses and crossing snow bridges that may not last much longer if sunny warm weather continues. Approaching or descending from the NW Ridge in particular involves crossing snowbridges that should be carefully assessed.
Again we remind all climbers to either use the toilet at camp or pack out human waste. It is unacceptable to leave poop on the snow surface anywhere.
Lastly, it is unfortunate that many car break-ins continue to happen at trailheads. Climbers should try their best to leave nothing behind in their vehicles for thieves to see.
August 10, 2022
The East Ridge can still be climbed purely on snow with some careful routefinding, but this will not last much longer. Going on talus for a short while is starting to become the easier option. The bivy area has many camp spots melted out with some running water tucked amongst the rocks.
Please be sure to bring blue bags with you, even if you plan to camp at the lower bivies. Rangers had to pick up 7 seperate piles of human waste and toilet paper. These do not disappear when you bury them in the glacier, they simply melt out. With how many users we have to our alpine areas, folks should be carrying out their waste if it's not going in a toilet to help keep it clean and pristine.
The bivy sites at Dorado Col have melted out. The East ridge is fee of snow and the NW face snow ascent option is almost gone. Expect to climb mostly on rock shortly. Inspiration and McAllister glacier have some cracks starting to open up on the traverse to Dorado needle, they are easy to navigate through.
Early Morning Spire
The snow patch on the route appears so be gone. The descent col has snow most of the way up, though you might have a tricky moat to navigate around when you rap from the top of the col.
July 20, 2022
Eldorado - East Ridge
Accessing the climber’s route from the parking area, parties still have been either crossing downed trees downstream from the culvert or fording the water. This river crossing has been a challenge for several parties with water levels still high, especially in the afternoon. Consistent snow travel starts above the boulder field and just below the meadow (~5300ft elevation). The East Ridge climbing route is still full snow travel with crevasses growing as we experience warmer temperatures.
The Eldorado East Ridge camp bivy sites (~7600ft elevation) are mostly free from snow now. The backcountry toilet located just below the bivy sites is melted out and useable. There are currently multiple low-flowing water sources around the bivy sites, but we found some of them were not flowing in the morning. As a reminder – if you are permitted for the Inspiration XC Zone, please continue to that area. The East Ridge bivy sites and the surrounding area are only for those with a permit for the Eldorado XC Zone.
The approach from Eldorado XC zone to Dorado Needle is straight-forward snow travel with some crevasses opening up. There are a couple snow-free bivy sites at the bottom of the East Ridge variation – these sites do have exposure to potential rock fall. The Northwest Ridge “1st pitch” is still steep snow climbing, but is quickly melting out with a large bergschrund forming. The remainder of the climb is snow free.
July 3, 2022
The Cascade River remains higher than average for early July, making the initial crossing a bit challenging. Climbing groups have been using a variety of log crossings, or wading across depending on the river level. Rain events, as well as warm weather have influenced the amount of snowmelt from one day to the next as well as from morning to evening. We recommend scouting your crossing in the daylight prior to your trip if you plan on leaving the parking lot before sunrise.
Snowline has risen significantly in the last week since summer brought in warm temperatures. Consistent snow begins at 5200’, but patches of snow remain in the boulderfield down to 4900’. Above 5200’, there is a considerable amount of snow, although we are beginning to see more moats open up, glide cracks, and melting around rocky outcroppings and cliffbands.
The bivy sites below the East Ridge are beginning to melt out, although you should expect to camp on snow with limited exceptions. We found running water near the bivy sites in the afternoon, but cold overnight temperatures slow the flow or cut it off completely for the morning. The composting toilet is currently buried under snow, so bluebags are a must for people planning on camping in this area.
The East Ridge route above the bivy sites is still entirely snow covered, but this will change quickly with sunny days and warmer temps. Some smaller rocks are showing through the snow in a few places, and some cracks are appearing as spring finally turns into summer. Most of the popular rock climbing routes in the Eldorado area still have significant amounts of snow lingering, requiring more mixed climbing techniques than pure rock climbing. This includes but is not limited to the rock routes on the Dorado Needle and the Eggplant.
June 11, 2022
Cascade River has fluctuated drastically recently with the melting snow and heavy rain events. Today there was water flowing over the standard log crossing at the crux of the crossing (see picture below). Rangers explored a couple other options to cross the river both down and upstream, however none them were ideal with the high water and would involve significant bushwacking and navigation to return to the climbers' trail. Plan your exit and entrances to Eldorado accordingly, watching for significant rain or warming events.
Snow levels at Eldorado were roughly at 4,000 feet in the last week. The bottom half of the boulder field has melted out and the upper half was still covered with snow.
We are above average snow depth for this time of year in the mountains. Climbers and skiers should still take care to watch out for cornices, wet loose avalanches, and rock fall which is exceptionally active this time of year as things melt out.
June 5, 2022
Keep in mind that “above average snowpack” can be misleading if just looking at a percentage. Thunder basin snotel site, for example, is well above average for this date (currently 1500%), and the site currently has 20” of snow on the ground. Easy Pass is also above average at 130% snowpack but is recording 130” or over 10 feet.
This amount of snow may sound great to some people and not as great to others. For skiers and riders, it is great to be able to utilize the flotation provided by backcountry gear. For climbers, it might mean more challenging approaches, snow on route, and lots of post-holing. Consider bringing snowshoes depending on the objective. For overnight visitors it might mean melting snow for water if the creeks are still far below the surface of the snow.
One thing that backcountry rangers have noticed in recent weeks is that the snow is wet and heavy and not freezing overnight. This seems to be true at fairly high elevations, and for different areas including Rainy Pass, Cascade Pass, and Hannegan Pass. The slushy conditions have made for slow travel, at times adding about 25-50% extra time if not more. This has been true for skiers and riders, and especially true for climbers without any flotation.
Along with snow considerations, the amount of snowmelt and rain have increased the flows in the rivers, and this could continue for weeks to come as the weather warms up. Even small creeks might not be crossable at some flows, and the timeline for high flows might look different this year than in years prior.
It is important to look into current conditions and plan your trip based on what you might encounter this year rather than assuming that it will be similar to what you saw last year at the same time. This includes many considerations, from travel times if the road is still impassable due to snow, to travel speed on snow versus on a trail, and whether or not a creek will be crossable. It might also include planning for a colder environment if you will be camping on snow, requiring more warm layers and more fuel if you are melting snow for water. Remember, plan accordingly in order to have a fun and safe trip.
August 1, 2021
Eldorado - East Ridge
The North Fork Cascade River crossing to Eldorado’s climbing trail is challenging if there is recent rain. The logs used for crossing can have water washing over them and the river can increase in flow/size for fording.
Large continuous crevasses are growing on the east ridge route up Eldorado, pushing the route onto the rocks at approximately 8200ft. From here, the route either goes directly up to the summit staying on the rocks or diverts back onto the glacier at approximately 8500ft. Some parties reported staying on the climbers’ left side rocks for almost the entire ascent. The upper summit ridge is rounding out with large bucket steps. As a reminder, both the approach and east ridge route does involve travelling on glacier - make sure to use proper glacier equipment and travelling techniques.
The toilet on the east ridge is still useable and located just below the bivy sites on the east ridge. There is running water at the bivy sites on the way to the toilet but it can be muddied by people walking above.
July 21, 2021
June 28, 2021
Multiple parties have been turned back in the last two days by the immediate crossing of North Fork Cascade River, which is flowing very high and strong. Remember that any watercourse will flow more strongly later in the day, especially during these hot temperatures.
June 22, 2021
There is still a lot of snow up high and unseasonably warm temperatures have made for difficult and potentially dangerous travel conditions. Loose snow avalanches were noted on numerous aspects and are common on warm afternoons when the snow loses cohesion. A red flag for loose snow avalanche potential includes boot penetration into the snow under body weight. This is exactly what we experienced with continuous post-holing and slow travel.
Eldorado East Ridge Camp (7600ft) still has plenty of snow but bivy sites are melting out fast. The backcountry toilet located in the lower rock section has been uncovered for use this season. Please bring blue bags to carry out human waste any time you’re above treeline in the case that you cannot reach the toilet in time.
September 13, 2020
Eldorado glacier remains mellow, but care should be taken at the lower part where climbers need to cross thin snow bridges and slippery rocks. Many crevasses are opening on the flat area of Inspiration glacier before reaching the high camp. Large moats are present along the east ridge and crevasses are easy to spot. Climbers could opt to descend on rock with easy scrambling (class 3 or 4) almost all the way back to camp. There are spots with small moats where climbers can transition back to snow to avoid a section of steep loose rock. The high camp is clean, and the composting toilet is in good shape – please help us maintain a clean camp and pack everything out! Running water from snow melt is available at the high camp below bivy sites.
August 9, 2020
The Eldorado approach trail is melted out to Eldorado Creek Basin, with only patches of snow until it crosses over into Roush Creek Basin at the base of the Eldorado Glacier. The Eldorado Glacier is still very mellow up to the bivy sites, but a few moats are forming in the rocks down low and a couple small cracks are beginning to open up in the flats. The East Ridge route is in great shape with only one easy bergschrund problem and a bomber boot-pack all the way up the knife ridge.
The Eldorado area is becoming very popular and this route has been getting A LOT of use. Remember that all parties camping within the National Park need a backcountry permit! Eldorado Cross-Country Zone permits are the only valid permit for the bivy sites at the East Ridge. The toilet at the bivy site is in good shape, but be prepared with blue bags in case you need to pack it out. Bears are entering the high country and the mice are hungry, please bring an approved food storage container!
June 24, 2020
Small wet slab and large point release avalanches were also noted on the steeper slopes throughout the area, including many small human-triggered releases. Most common times for natural wet avalanches are during sunny afternoons/evenings or periods of warm rainy weather. Eldorado high camp (7600ft) still has deep snow in places, but a few bivy sites have melted out and the backcountry toilet has been dug out and is available for use. Whether staying at the East Ridge bivy sites or not, make sure to bring blue bags to carry out human waste above tree line!
August 25, 2019
The approach route is in normal condition. Look for the cairn on Cascade River Road for the most manageable creek crossing. Cross the creek on downed logs. Parties have reported bear sightings close to the boulder field. Please refrain from camping in Eldorado Basin and Hammered Ridge to preserve alpine vegetation. Follow cairns to drop into Roush Creek Basinand up to the toe of the Eldorado glacier. The lower Eldorado glacier is becoming more crevassed and is currently in its late season stage. Parties have been roping up for the approach to the East ridge bivy sites. At the East ridge bivy sites please store food properly as there have been increased rodent issues. The composting toilet is in great shape.
July 10, 2019
Eldorado / Inspiration Glacier / Austera Peak / Klawatti Glacier
Approach to Eldorado is in standard condition with patchy snow starting just below the ridge between Eldorado Creek and Rouse Creek Basins. Toilet at Eldorado is in good working condition. Please only TP and feces in the toilet. Many parties are going up the Eldorado glacier and East Ridge of Eldorado without any issues. Traversing the Klawatti Glacier and Inspiration Glacier to Austera Peak is in more or less typical condition for this time of year.
June 15, 2019
Starting from El Dorado trailhead, river can be forded about 15-20 feet from original log crossing. Use caution while fording! Crossing might be safer than "log jam" crossing down river. Ford is below knee height.
The toilet at the bivy site is melted out, please do not put trash in composting toilet.
From June 1 to November 15, Interagency Grizzly Bear Commitee approved food canisters are required for camping below the vegetation line in Boston Basin , El Dorado , and Sulphide Glacier cross-country zones.
For old climbing conditions blog posts, check out the links below.
Last updated: September 8, 2023