Permits: None of C2C-NW forest pass for parking
Route Name: Eldorado basin trail
Snow Level: 6300 ft
Elevation Gain: 6885 ft
Total Miles: 9.00 mi
Gear: Glacier gear required. Poles helpful for descent (for knees)
From Trail Head to Summit: 8.5 hours
From Summit to Trail Head: 6.0 hours
Weather: Humid and partly cloudy
Parked at the trailhead the night before and scoped out the fabled “dry log crossing” over the river (48.49362, -121.12453). We scoped it out, marked the trail, and went to take a nap before an early start.
The trailhead has plenty of space, but the road to Cascade Pass is closed here and many cars will be here for this as well as Boston Basin, Forbidden etc.
Left the trailhead at 4am. Made quick work of the log crossing, but got really turned around in the maze of “trails” along the river. Had to use gps to find our way to the real trail.
Once we found it, it was a “no nonsense” climb up for 2,000ft in the trees. We popped out on the boulder field and appreciated the change of pace from the steep trail. On the way down we found a better trail on climbers right of the boulder field, but liked the boulders on the way up. There are some creek crossing up nearer to the ridge, and more that are melting out with the snow, but they are limited.
Snow started at about 6000ft before the ridge. Made it to the ridge in about 5ish hours. And had a nice break there. From the ridge, you drop down on the snowfield, and there are many not to great options, on the way up, we went down the first gulley you see when coming onto the ridge and did some slab by rock scrambling down to find a way onto the snow. On the way back, we took a gulley further up the ridge, and while it was a class three scramble up steep meadows, it seemed a lot easier to go up. Choose your own adventure.
We got onto the snow, and roped up at the first flat spot below getting to the glacier. Found one more waterfall over the snow that was helpful on the way back.
Snow travel was pretty straight forward. Crevasses were visible on Inspiration glacier.
Last 1000 ft up the ridge had several moats and crevasses to cross, some that were starting to get big.
The knife edge was amazing and on a blue sky day, we were able to see from Rainier to Canada!
The way down is exactly as the way up. Glad we brought a few small water filters to refill and drink electrolytes as it got really warm on the glacier. Took our time with breaks and getting down to make sure we were safe, and spent some time trying to find out way back through the maze of “trails” near the river to get back to the dry river crossing.
We took our time on this one, and ended up with 14.5 hours round trip. You could probably do it quicker, but it was a lovely day.