Eldorado Basin Climbs (Labor Day Weekend, 1996)

This trip was something of a failure, due to horrible weather, but this report contains some interesting information. The approach to the Eldorado glacier is confusing if Beckey's instructions are followed. These (due to Dan Weld) are much better: "Drive approx 20 miles (also near 20 mile marker) to a large clearing / parking lot on the right side of the road. Park. Starting at a huge cedar on the W side of the lot, walk 50 paces back (W) along the road. Bushwack to the river - there was a nice log here in 8/90. You should now be very close to the trail, perhaps a bit too far W. About 75' N of the river is a solid trail paralleling the river. It is strongest to the W of Eldorado creek and weak E of the creek. The climber's trail (good) goes up the hillside W of the creek w/in earshot just as Becky says." The aforementioned log was still in place. There is a worse log (which we hit on the descent), another 200+ meters to the west. The steep trail opens up into major rockslide at around 3500 feet. Trails at the edges (E edge lower, W edge upper) of the rockslide provide more efficient travel than boulder hopping. Note the location of the trails that cut through the brushy bits of the rockslide, in case you descend during a whiteout, as we did. At around 5000 feet, the rockslide ends and a trail cuts from the E edge of the slide through small cliffs. The trail is in bad shape here. Eventually reach lush meadows and small streams. At around 6000 ft, we followed a trail left, which rose to meet the spur ridge coming down on the left (W) of the Eldorado Ck basin. From this spur, drop down a gully (w/ a large boulder at its head) to the moraine of the Eldorado glacier. We camped on the slabs above the moraine.

After a beautiful night, the next day dawned with clouds on the horizon, and by 10 am, it was drizzling. After practicing self arrest and crevasse rescue techniques (hoping that the weather would clear for a try on Eldorado), we decided to hike accross the slabs (W) towards the Triad. The slabs are tough going at the 6200 ft level, as you must cross numerous shallow gullys running with water from the glacier above. We eventually reached the W edge of the basin (near a low point of the S edge of the Eldo glacier). From here we got onto snow and in a partial whiteout, made a rising traverse of the snow slopes S of the E summit of the Triad. Eventually we reached what is presumably the large snow slope on the SW flank of the E summit and we headed upwards. We climbed a final steepish snow slope to perhaps 50 ft below the summit. The final scramble was guarded by a decent sized moat, and as we were pretty wet and cold by this time, we decided against trying the summit. On the way back to camp, we decided to traverse the basin about 200 feet higher (closer to the edge of the glacier) and made great time across easy snow slopes and slabs.

We spent a miserable night (3 people in a 2 person tent) in strong wind and rain. By 10 am, the weather was showing little sign of clearing so we headed home. The descent was made miserable by lots of mud and slimy, wet boulder hopping.