Dorado Needle, Southwest Buttress

Technical climbing info

Mountain: Dorado Needle
Elevation: 8,440′
Route: Southwest Buttress
Length: 1,000′
Grade: III, 5.8

To go, or not to go?

Will and I had come off a long climbing day just the past day.  Our 6:30am alarm was too early.  While the West Ridge of Eldorado did not destroy us, but it did take a good bit of our energy.  We decided we’d make the call this morning if we’d climb again or just take on the 8 hour walk back to our car.  

We looked at the peaks.  Early Morning Spire and Dorado Needle.  They were just right there.  Right there.  I never wanted to walk back into this basin again either.  

“You game?”

Will had climbed both routes we were staring at for his AMGA Alpine exam a couple years back.  At least we’d know where we were going the whole time.  Dorado Needle’s SW Buttress presented a more straightforward option, appealing for sore legs and feet.   Dorado Needle’s SW Buttress it was.   I counted my last few snacks that I hadn’t eaten on the previous climb.  Yeah, that should be enough for today…probably.  We geared up and skidaddled.  

The melt and the moat

We made our way up our tracks from yesterday’s descent.  They were now very faint; it was amazing how much they had melted just overnight.  We could see the little streams from the day before had opened up a little bit more too.  I walked gingerly over the snow, breaking into a stream a meter under seemed like a bad way to start the morning.  

The moat guarding the climb was not as friendly as the stream crossings, and we roped up.  We could see what looked like an endlessly deep dark void extending below us.  

Looking up at our start of the route.

Climbing with daisies

We began climbing where Mountain Project and SummitPost disagree.  Without a good reference, it seems that people just kind of do as they will.  We followed a grassy crack upwards, it was clear that climbers had been here and dug out slots for camps in the grassy cracks.  The climb followed the grass spotted with daisies for quite some time; in a way, the route finding was pleasant. 

The Daisy Chimney

I came across a chimney that I nicknamed the “Daisy Chimney”.  It turns out that I was actually off route and should have been climbing the easier slabs to my right.  It was still fun, and the flowers still kept it pleasant.  

We were afforded beautiful stable rock and beautiful views of our West Ridge and North Ridge endeavors on Eldorado.  The wonderful positioning made the “money pitch” of the route, slanting finger cracks with good feet and a ton of exposure, just so much fun.  

The money pitch with Eldorado as our backdrop.

And the top in summer heat

As we climbed up, the summit was coming closer and closer to us.  We could see the rappel slings off the top as we crossed over a few little ridges knocking off whatever loose rock we could find.  The summit couldn’t come too soon, my feet were starting to feel like they were burning from the sweat and no socks, I had spent most my belays barefoot but they were still bugging me.  We finally found the final sandy gully up to the summit ridge, and booted up.  My feet couldn’t thank me enough for that.  

We had already seen the summit a few years ago together, and in the boiling August heat, we figured we’d spare ourselves the 30 minutes and head straight down.  

Two good days. 

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This was really just part of a bigger story that week…

Eldorado Peak, West Ridge

A couple years ago, Will and I climbed the North Ridge of Eldorado, a fairly rarely climbed rocky ridge up the popular peak. The route gave us spectacular views out over the western flank of the mountain, exposing what looked like a much wilder side. Among the jumbled glacier patches and broken rock towers, the…

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