Crossing the Eliot Glacier. The north face route ...
This elegant route is one of the best on the mountain. The crux is catching the line in condition. When the conditions are right, this is a spectacular climb that can have fantastic ice pitches up to WI4.
Begin at Tilly Jane or Cloud Cap campgrounds. Follow marked climber trails through the trees. Moving above timberline climb onto a prominent ridge (the lower part of Cooper Spur) Continue up the ridge until you see a cairn on the right side of the trail marking a subtle path down onto the glacier.
Move up the glacier sticking to the left side and watching for seracs and crevasses. There are several nice ice lines that have been forming on the left side of the Eliot headwall. Continue up the glacier and move right after you near the headwall.
On the right side of the headwall, there are 2 distinct couloirs heading up and diagonally leftward. Both can be climbed, but the right one is usually the more exciting route with more vertical ice.
Move into the gullies and follow them to the summit.
The left gully has a vertical section at its beginning then is pretty much a snow slope to the summit.
The right gully contains 3-4 vertical ice sections with the first two being the most difficult.
Descend Cooper Spur or Sunshine to return to start or descend the south side route and make a car shuttle.
This route can be done most of the year with the exception of when avy conditions are high in winter. However, to get the best conditions you want to climb it sometime in fall after some snow has fallen and then gone through freeze/thaw cycles to form WI on the steep sections. These conditions can also be encountered in the spring as things melt down too but temps can get warm fast causing the route to deteriorate quickly.
More than one climber has climbed the route when it is just a long snow ramp. While still a fun route I would say what makes it my favorite route on the mountain is the WI steps.
It's worth noting that the right gully involves some rock at the top if you climb straight up the fall line after exiting the second step. You can avoid the rock by traversing climber's left and merging with the left gully's finish. (which is basically the top of Cooper's Spur) It can be a mental kick in the head to pull through what you thought were the end of the difficulties and realize you're not out of the woods yet.
Not sure why folks have given this route an R rating. By PNW standards the ability to protect oneself is quite adequate. As for the previous comment about moving left around the rock buttress near the top. While one can continue left an top out in the same general proximity of Cooper's Spur, it is preferable to cut back right and continue straight up as it brings one directly to the summit. Though being directly under the summit cornice can be intimidating from some.
What elevation do most people get off the Coopspur and drop onto Eliot? Looks like there's currently (late Feb '12) a steep ramp connecting the spur to the glacier at 9,000'... anyone ever dropped down there?
There's a massive cairn at I forget what elevation that has a trail through the lateral moraine to the toe when it's not covered in snow. With snow it's a 30ish degree slope with a big cairn above it. (typically the cairn doesn't get covered as the wind scours it pretty good. (I think it's about mid 6k') 9k is definitely too high.
By Portwood From: Your moms house last night Oct 8, 2012 rating: WI2+ Mod. Snow