Isolation Traverse

The Isolation Traverse takes you through the mountain wilderness north of Eldorado.

April 25, 2019 - April 28, 2019

Difficulty rating and Skill requirements

Difficulty Rating System Explained

Overall Difficulty Level: Very difficult

Skills Required:  Advanced skiing ability and prior ski touring experience 

Fitness Level: Very strenuous due to skitouring with big overnight packs

  • Category: Ski
  • Type: Guided
  • Ratio: 4:1,6:2

The Isolation Traverse takes you through the mountain wilderness north of Eldorado. From the high peaks of the Colonial-Snowfield group to the glacial expanses of the McAllister and Inspiration glaciers, this trip is a true North Cascades adventure. We will cross high cols, summit lonely peaks, and cross big glaciers. It's a natural and compelling route that offers some great skiing and an unforgettable adventure.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day One:

We meet early at the Marblemount ranger station for a gear check and a car shuttle. Then it's off to Eldorado Creek, where we begin our climb into the high country. We ski north, crossing the Roush Creek drainage on our way to a camp on the East Ridge of Eldorado.

Day Two:

This day brings us into country rarely visited by skiers. We cross the Inspiration and MCAllister glaciers and ski a third, nameless glacier to a camp near the enigmatic Backbone Ridge; A truly wild setting in the heart of the North Cascades.

Day Three:

An intricate route takes us north, down the elusive "Ice-Elation" couloir, and over the top of Isolation Peak. This is a big day, so eat your Wheaties! We aim to make camp at the top of the truly unique Neve Glacier.

Day Four:

If you've ever driven the North Cascades highway, then you may have gazed up at Colonial and Pyramid peaks from near Diablo Lake or Thunder Arm. On our final day, we ski down between these grand peaks in what is truly a grand exit. A classic Cascadian climber's trail leads down from tree line to Pyramid Lake and the highway shortly beyond.

Sign up for a course or a trip and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a 20% discount on gear rental.

Pro Ski and Mountain Service is our retail specialty store. It has been located in North Bend, WA since 1999.

The past trips and courses have had a large influence on what we sell. Many of our Pro Guiding customers come on trips and courses with gear they purchased from our store. Not only do we want our clients to have the right gear for the job; we also receive direct feedback from them while they are using it in the field. Trust us - if the gear does not work - we won't sell it.


 1 Bottom - midweight or lightweight
• 1 or 2 Tops - midweight or lightweight
 Sock Liners - 2 or 3 pair
 Ski Socks - 2 pair
 Windshirt, Soft Shell, Fleece - only one of these is necessary
 Schoeller™ type pants - soft shell
 Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
 Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Pants
 Softshell Ski Touring Pants
 Warm Hat - should cover ears
 Sun Hat - baseball type or visor
 Lightweight Gloves
 Ski Gloves
 Down or Synthetic Jacket
 Internal Frame Pack - 50 Liter (3100 cu in.) minimum
 Sleeping Bag - down or synthetic, 15º F to 20º F minimum
 Compression Sack - for sleeping bag           
 Sleeping Pad - closed cell foam or self inflating
 Headlamp - lightweight LED recommended
 Water Bottles - 1 or 2 liters, wide mouth
 Bowl or Cup
 Small Knife
 Sunglasses - adequate for snow travel
 Sunscreen - SPF >25, waterproof
 Lip Balm - SPF 15+
 Personal Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, waterless hand cleaner, etc.
 Small Personal 1st aid kit - blister repair (Compeed™), aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
 Skis - Alpine Touring or Telemark
 Ski Boots - Alpine Touring or Telemark – no downhill boots
 Ski Poles - telescopic poles work well, but not required
 Climbing Skins
• Ski Brakes
 Transceiver - single frequency,  457 kHz only
 Shovel - compact, lightweight, metal blade preferred
 Probe - dedicated probe only, ski poles do not suffice
 Ice Axe - 55-70 cm length, lightweight
 Boot Crampons – Aluminum is recommended for this trip
 Climbing Harness - lightweight, BD Alpine Bod style (no padding)
•  2 Locking Carabiners- (1) large HMS style and (1) regular locker
•  2 Non-locking Carabiners - any style, we recommend wire gates
•  1 Single Length Runner
•  1 Double Length Runner
•  1 Cordelette - 6 mm diameter, 6 meter length
 Camera - we’d like some shots for the PGS website!
 Ear Plugs - essential for sound sleep
 Camp Booties
 Thermos - vacuum type
 Note Pad and Pencil - Rite-in-the-rain brand waterproof notebook works
 Compass - adjustable declination a must
 Altimeter - Suunto watch works well
 Map Case - large zip-loc will suffice
 Maps - contact guiding office for appropriate quadrangles
 Collapsible Water Canteen - good for storing snowmelt at camp
 Warm Socks - to sleep in
 Lightweight Bivy/Tarp - handy with a floorless tent
 Foot Powder
GROUP GEAR PROVIDED BY PGS   *Please contact the guiding office if you prefer to bring your own gear in place of any of our group gear.
 Cooking Pots
 Technical Group Gear, VHF radio or SAT phone
 Group 1st Aid Kit

Should I tip my guide? And how much should I tip them? Although tipping is not a requirement it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or flat price tip that you are comfortable with.