Triple TR - Eldorado, Eggplant, and Lil' T
Over a long weekend I made my way up 3 (or perhaps more realistically 2.5) peaks. On Saturday 2019-06-15, I cruised up Eldorado (8,868') in the North Cascades and stopped by the notorious Eggplant (7,733') on the way down. Eldorado is one of those classic peaks that everyone has already done which meant that finding a partner was nigh on impossible so I went solo.
A 4am alarm got me going but what really woke me up was the creek ford right after leaving the road. It was only 20 or so feet of water to cross but doing it in the dark was quite the excitement. I had left my phone in my thigh pocket which seemed fine until I stepped into an area of water up to my hips. Luckily my water-resistant softshells did their job and my day was not ruined before it even started.
After this eventful start, the trail was absolutely dreamy. And by dreamy I mean steep, my favorite kind of trail. Big ups until a long boulder field and then some fun scrambling around. After the boulder field the snow started (~5,650') and never let up except for the brief down-scramble (2nd- to low-3rd class) from a ridge. After this, it's snowfields and glaciers to the summit!
The snow was in great booting condition the whole way up and I made it to the summit about 4.5hr after I started, a pretty solid time! I got some time alone on the knife edge before someone else came up.
On the way down, I knew I had to stop by Eggplant and check it out. I had no beta on the route but it couldn't have been more than 200' from base to summit so no excuses! Lacking inspiration and wanting to keep my crampons on, I started up a direct line on the north face. This was hard névé up to 45º and more difficult than I anticipated in trail runners. I switched to the 3rd-class rock about 2/3 of the way up and cruised to the summit. As with Eldorado, the views were sublime.
The 6,700' of vertical gain on Eldorado wasn't enough for me so after a quick rest day on Sunday I joined my friends Nastassia and Wade for a romp up Little Tahoma (11,138'). This approach was far less steep (and thus less fun) but offered an absolutely astounding view of Tahoma most of the way up. We started at 1am to minimize any thawing hazards and maximize grogginess.
While beautiful, the terrain leading up to the summit block of Lil' T was rather uneventful. Some steeper (35º) snow was climbed and a few easily bypassed crevasses were avoided but most of it was just a slog.
The summit pyramid offered excellent non-technical climbing over marginal rock, my favorite! Spicy 4th class in my best estimation, nothing felt 5th class and our party did not rope up despite bringing gear. The summit had a small alcove from the wind and the late-morning sun was just about perfect.
The descent was uneventful, but the keen glissadier should be aware of many rock hazards on the way down!
Overall a great weekend of over 14,000' of vertical gain and a good amount of horizontal miles as well. Both classic peaks that I'm sure I'll come back to again!