*Steven Song should have a link to his well detailed trip report somewhere in the replies*
This trip consisted of Me, Steven and Vlad. This one has been mentioned a few times when we toss around ideas of what to do but the cards finally lined up to go do it. The 3 of us met at Steve's place and threw all the gear into his sweet new Toyota Tacoma and made it down to the trailhead at 11pm on the Monday night for a car camp. Steve set up his bivy beside the truck, Vlad set up his tent and I popped a sleeping pill and passed out inside the truck. 5:30am alarm time, and we were on our way at 6am. Quick and easy.
The first obstacle is crossing the river, it would be easy enough to walk across if need be, but instead there is a massive log to cross on that's not going anywhere anytime soon. After that it's a well traveled trail, no messing around, it's steep and straight up!
We hit the lower boulder field which was snow free in 1hr, soon after that it was intermittent snow which made life easier to travel on as it was still firm. For info purpose you could just take a few empty water bottles up this high and fill up in the melt water streams.
After the boulder field it was snow all the way, there was previous party tracks which helped save energy, the only downside was they were the smallest steps possible.
We hit the ridge that you need to drop over to get onto the Eldorado Glacier, there were some tents setup here, getting down was steep and pretty soon it's going to melt out and someone will fall into a moat, wasn't us on this day though! Once we dropped down it was just a big ol glacier plod upto high camp.
Once on the upper flat ice field the views opened up and we got a good look at destination.
We passed by some more tents, and once we got closer to the summit we could see a huge roped group ahead of us. Steve said that the plan was to get upto the summit ridge before they did otherwise we could end up waiting a fair bit of time, so he kicked it into overdrive and off he went, I didn't try to keep up, I set a quick pace one that I knew would still pass them, and Vlad kept his pace and it all worked out, we passed the huge group and all 3 of us sat down at the base of the famous knife edge ridge and put on our crampons and took out the ice axes.
A good cow path with steps was hammered into the ridge, the exposure near the top is decent but all in all I never felt uneasy on the way up. Soon enough the 3 of us are ontop of Eldorado having lunch 4.5hrs after we started.
The group of 8 was moving quite slow, we had a good chunk of time on the summit and just as they were nearing to top we decided to head down otherwise it would be a big wait to get down. By now the snow had softened up and it was easy on the knees decent, passing by another tent in a sweet location.
As soon as I saw them taking a different line than we came up, I knew they were upto something. I then realized they were heading for the giant shark fin pinnacle that we passed on the way up. As I watched them drop down I stayed up high, they looked back and asked if I was staying put. I weighed the pros and cons and ended up going with them. It was a nice little side project to kill some time and have another good food break at the top.
Back on the glacier we had a few really good bum slides, we couldn't believe how quick we were making it down the mountain, not before long we were back in the boulder field but this time of day it's russian roulette with punching through the snow. All went well, we caught upto 2 skiers who we saw on the way down near the top. Damn that did not look like fun carrying that sized packs down on a trail like that. Slow going.....
We got back to the car 8hrs after we started, washed up in the creek, I bough a 6 pack and ended up drinking alone, but gave one to the skiers who showed up just as we were leaving. This trip was travel light, travel fast, the conditions were perfect, no suffering, no bush whacking, just pure enjoyment in the Cascades.