Dorado Needle SW Buttress
Avg: 3 from 4 votes
|Type:||Trad, Snow, Alpine, 900 ft, 9 pitches, Grade III|
|Page Views:||1,454 total · 68/month|
|Shared By:||Priti Wright on Jun 14, 2016|
|Admins:||Scott Coldiron, Nate Ball, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick|
DescriptionP1: The first pitch goes up the corner and then slightly to the right. This pitch is a full rope (~55-57m). At the end there is a nice crack for the pro anchor 2-3 inch cams. The pitch is 5.6 with probably one move 5.7 / 5.8.
P2: The second pitch is up and to the right until you reach a little plato where you can set-up the anchor with 0.5-1" cams or a few nuts.
P3: Pass the bolder where the anchor is set up on the left and ascend a short gully which is a 4th class scramble. As soon as you reach the corner on the left side go up to the left. This is probably a place to set up the anchor if no radios as otherwise you won't be able to hear each other. We continued up to a nice ledge with a crack for 1-2" cams and few good nut placement spots.
P4: From the anchor you should clearly see a ridge to your left. The route will bear left a little bit to get to the ridge. Find a nice spot there and set up the anchor (half rope length pitch). We made a mistake here and climbed to the right just below the ridge as it did look like there is another easy way up the ridge. Do not do it as you will end up climbing 5.10 overhang with loose rock on the next pitch. If you did go this way the station will be at the end of the crack where you face almost vertical corner. Note: the next pitch below is described as the standard route and the following text is only a brief description of the variation that we did. The second rope team climbed normal route).
P5A: ascend the corner (5.7) to the first overhand with a little ledge on the right. There is a huge bolder resting on this ledge hanging of it a bit. I was worried to even touch it as if it would come down it could definitely kill someone. A bit of yoga moves and I was standing on the ledge with another crux move on this variation. There are a few rocks that looks like a good pro placement and a handhold spot, but no, it is a trap. The rocks are huge and barely hold together. So it was a no touch spot. There is one spot on the right for a 1" cam which is the only protection you can place there. It is not a solid placement but would probably hold a minor fall. If you manage to reach a flake to the right and above the cam pull yourself up and reach the crack on the left. From there get up to the shelf on the left. This is the same sport as the end of P5 describe below.
P5: Continue up the ridge (low 5th and some scramble portions) to a nice flat shelf on the rock. Depending on where the previous anchor is and the rope drag you can advance another 10-15 meters traversing the rock on the left and getting to a flat spot just below the wall with the right leaning crack. It is preferred to get to the base of the wall if you have 60m rope as it might be a bit of a stretch to get to the next anchor from the ledge.
P6: Climb up the right leaning crack. When the crack ends, continue up straight up the wall using nice big hand holds. The anchor is at the top of the ridge (sling over the rock or pro anchor).
P7: Follow the ridge from the last anchor and then drop down to the left to a nice ledge. Protect this part for the follower downclimbing it. Follow the traverse to the left and then ascend up to the wide crack between two slabs. Climb up to the top of the slab with the huge crack and set up the anchor in the notch there.
P8: One option is to ascend a loose gully with a big chokestone at the top. This is the place that merges with the NW ridge route. Set up an anchor there. The other option is to climb up the wall to the right from the gully towards the right leaning crack on the summit ridge. Do not go right following the crack but traverse to the left. There is a nice notch in the ridge there for belay.
P9: From either point that you choose in P8 follow the ridge to the summit. It is the same as the NW ridge route.
There are two options for descend:
1: Go all the way back to the top of the gully and rappel from there (one single rope rappel). The moat already open there and you will need to get to its base and climb out of it.
2: Rappel one double rope from the huge rock on the ridge 10 meters north from the summit. There is a rappel ring and a sling there. We reinforced it with one additional sling. This rappel will bring you down to the steep snow section that still has a connection with a rock and you don't need to climb into the moat. The snow bridge there is still solid and is well passable.
Descend the glacier down to the notch where we dropped before to get to the base of the route. From there it is the same way back. The climb itself took us 7 hours. 2 hours for the approach from Eldorado's camp, 1.5 hours to get back. Another 4 hours to get to the cars from the camp.
LocationFrom Interstate 5, take the Cook Road exit (Exit 232) east to where it joins State Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) in Sedro Woolley. Drive 47 miles from I-5 to Marblemount, Washington, turning onto the Cascade River Road; proceed 19 miles to a large parking lot on the right side of the road (2,160 feet).
To cross the Cascade River, walk downstream along the road until a path leads down to the river. Cross on the log or, when the water level is low, for the river to the north side of the creek. Continue into the woods a short distance (trailhead sign) until a path leads back upstream for a few hundred feet, then turns left (north) uphill before reaching Eldorado Creek.
The climber’s path, on the west side of Eldorado Creek, climbs steeply through old-growth forest (no water) to a small talus field at 4,000 feet. Climb to the top of the talus field, exiting on a steep path through side alder to a second, and much larger, talus field (snow in early season). Make and ascending traverse up and right (east), locating a climber’s path along the right (east) edge of the talus. The approach is much easier when way trails are followed, so when this path fades near large boulders, look for another path continuing up along the left (west) side of the talus. Traverse right (east) across talus to a stream at the base of small water falls (5,000 feet). From here, the route used to follow a steep, muddy trail up through the last trees to an open basin at 5,400 feet (campsites available here). But the Park Service has made an “improvement” to this section of the Eldorado Creek approach. Above the talus field, the approach was rerouted at 5,100 feet, and marked with a large cairn to get people to cross the creek here, to the east, and proceed on a switchbacking route the rest of the way through heather, etc., to the rocks above that are the first recommended camping.
Continue up the switchbacking trail to the adjoining ridge crest to the left (west) at just above 6,000 feet. Where the ridge steepens (6,150 feet), descend a Class 3 gully 150 feet left (west) into the Roush Creek basin (the correct gully can be identified as the one with a large boulder in it just below the ridge crest).
Once in the Roush Creek drainage, traverse right (north) over talus, then ascend slabs and moraine toward the southeast edge of Eldorado Glacier. Snow slopes (20-30 degrees) lead to the large, flat area of the glacier at 7,500 feet and good bivy sites. A rock island at the base of Eldorado’s east ridge (7,800 feet) us a small bivy site. Additional bivy sites can be found several hundred feet higher.
From the Eldorado Glacier, proceed north onto the Inspiration Glacier. Contour around the inspiration glacier to find the saddle located between the Tepeh Towers to get onto the McAllister Glacier. Once on the McAllister Glacier, you’ll see Dorado Needle to the west. Circum navigate the McAllister Glacier to the Dorado Needle. Be alert for rock and ice fall while in the area.
Traverse generally North across the Inspiration Glacier to the 8000-foot Inspiration-McAllister Glacier col and continue Northwest downhill across the McAllister Glacier. Travel to the lowest gap on the Southwest side of the glacier, the Marble Creek-McAllister pass at 7600 feet, and find a manageable crossing to the small glacier on the Marble Creek side of the pass. This will generally be on the Easternmost side of the pass. From here, descend the lightly-crevassed ice to Marble Creek cirque.
The Southwest Buttress of Dorado Needle can be reached by ascending a prominent gully, often snow-filled year-round, from about 700 vertical feet below the Marble Creek-McAllister pass to the base of the objective.