There is something about El Dorado – it’s only 8,876 feet high, though heavily glaciated. It’s not a technically challenging climb, but an enjoyable and aesthetic journey that takes your breath away at every step. It’s also not in remote Himalayas or deep into Alaska, but in North Cascades, the American Alps, within a few hours of journey from Seattle and can be done in a single day – but it does feel like you are in a deep wilderness, climbing a classic high peak.
This is how WTA (Washington Trail Association) site describes it: “Located in the picturesque North Cascades National Park, Eldorado Peak is Fred Beckey’s “Queen of the Cascade River”. The summit’s craggy profile, remoteness, and knife edge summit combine to remind hikers of the Himalayas.”
It’s true – the first time I went there, it reminded me of the Himalayas where I started my mountaineering life. We camped on a ridge near the foot of the glacier and enjoyed a marvelous evening as the alpenglow shifted from peak to peak. The next time, I climbed in a day – starting from the trailhead at 3 am in the dark, climb all the way up and back – very exhausted, but satisfied to the core. I think that I will climb the peak many more times – there is something about it that captures my imagination.
When I first moved to Seattle, a local friend told me about the knife-edge ridge on El Dorado and how beautiful the mountain is. He told me, “you got to get up there” – he was right. I say the same thing when anyone asks me for suggestion to where to go climbing in North Cascades.
Here are some images with some description from my first trip (this was done in as a 2 days trip) that hopefully captures the essence of the mountain.
Here are some images from the single day climb – which I thought was easier than the 2-day climb as you don’t have to carry tent and heavy load over the treacherous boulder field. However, you need to be able to mode fast and have enough endurance to complete the whole climb in a day. As you can see from these images, we had a very different weather conditions
On the flat area below the peak – only me and my partner (Hakim Ali) were climbing the peak that day. We had the mountain all to ourselves.
I have met many local climbers who climb this peak every year – some multiple times. I think that I will also come back here many times – it’s truly the queen of Cascade river.