Route: Inspiration Traverse (WA)

Submitted by Jason Hardrath… on Wed, 08/11/2021 - 01:22pm
Washington, US
21 mi
Vertical Gain
14,062 ft

There are different interpretations of the famed "Inspiration Traverse" (depending of if you are climbing or ski'ing) but upon reading multiple reports, for a car-to-car FKT style effort, the following is the most classic, desirable climber's line:

Start from the Eldorado Trailhead and climb the 5 largest peaks of the traverse - Eldorado Peak (8,868')Dorado Needle (8440'), Klawatti Peak (8485'), Austera Peak (8334'), and Primus Peak (8508') - before returning to the car.  (an argument can be made for the point-to-point variation that exits out Thunder Creek, but the usual style for FKTs, especially considering the long car shuttle on this, is to do the car-to-car variations) the order the peaks are climbed is up to the FKT attempter.

This is not a casual trail run. This route route has extensive crevassed glacier travel, steep snow, mid-5th class rock climbing, route finding, and exposed-high-risk terrain. Extensive experience with this skills is highly recommended before attempting. Planning for glacier conditions, weather, and day of the week (to avoid other parties) is a part of the logistics on this FKT. Be sure to read the route descriptions for the 4th/5th class terrain on Dorado, Klawatti, and Austera. You must tag the top of the true summit of each peak for this FKT to count...which on Dorado Needle includes a two move boulder problem that some describe as going at 5.7-5.9yds. Rope is recommended for the glacier travel and climbing.

For those with the experience, fitness, and proper tools, this is perhaps one of the most beautiful and quintessential car-to-car traverse experiences in the state.


Further Research:


Submitted by Jason Hardrath (FKTs)



The FKT guidelines state: "Routes with a website, an existing name, history, particular beauty, follow a topographic feature, and with existing popularity will usually be accepted"
A car to car variation is not the inspiration traverse.

Here are 3 trip reports on the inspiration traverse that connects Thunder Creek to the Eldorado trailhead:…

Sean, who was present in the trip, mentions on his trip report:
"We could have dropped to Thunder Creek and exited to Ross Lake, but we couldn’t get in touch with Jason’s support vehicle"
Ending at Thunder creek also made sense for Jason since he was hiking from Rainy Pass the next day.

FKT also states: "Ultimately, we are looking for routes that other athletes will want to try as well"
While the Inspiration Traverse has been done multiple times in the past. The car to car variation likely hasn't been done in the past or repeated in the two years since it was posted.

It would have likely been an FKT of the inspiration traverse if they had completed it.
This variation should probably be removed.


First off, not doing Thunder Creek schwacking is an excellent choice for improving the overall enjoyment of this route and it eliminates the long shuttle. 

Note to Admin:

BrianC fails to see the precedent of the FKT style of car-to-car sometimes leading to the alteration of a pre-existing point-to-point route.

Peter Bakwin, as one of the original founders of FKT, avidly supported car-to-car variations. 

Since Brian is not willing to do his own research on FKT culture and precedents, here is just one example where a previously point-to-point route was made car-to-car by the original FKT founders:

It is worth noting that anyone can see BrianC has exclusively chosen to comment only routes/efforts related to me, Jason Hardrath, so it can be assumed he will continue to try to twist any rule to get a Jason Hardrath effort or route taken down. 

Going car-to-car on the Inspiration Traverse is a fabulous experience that saves a long car shuttle and the least aesthetic,worst bushwhacking of the point-to-point. Of course BrianC, leaves that out of his analysis as well.

I actually had to request that the PNW editor at the time of this submission include the point-to-point because he only wanted to keep the car-to-car slam.

Many will agree over time that for FKTs and otherwise - the car-to-car should remain.

Jason, I looked at the example you shared: It looks like you're the one who posted the car to car variation of an existing traverse.
Is your argument that you've done it before so you can do it again?

Peter Bakwin also mentions "Vitaliy has total cred, but also no verification for his run of 5h2m on 9/22/2016". This is a previous faster time yet you maintain your FKT for that variation.

Please explain how the rules are being twisted, they are direct quotes from: and

I'm not sure how you can claim the car to car saves: "the least aesthetic,worst bushwhacking of the point-to-point" since you haven't done it point to point.
In my experience, having done the traverse, the river crossing at the start of Eldo and getting to the unmaintained trail sign is the worst part.

Finally, if you intended to do the traverse and had to turn around because of communication problems with the support team, is it even fair to claim this as an FKT?


I personally prefer car-to-car records -- the less support, the better.  If I hadn't already done it, I would do it the way we did, because car shuttles are a pain.

Hey Brian! 

While this traverse can be done several ways, car-to-car, exiting back to Cascade Creek, is certainly the most classic! It’s similar distance than heading north, but with more time in the high alpine, and the opportunity to see the icecap from the opposite direction! Lovely. One of my favorite things about the FKT website is the inspiration (hah) it provides. Why not include the best variation of routes? 

I think Jason’s effort and time are very worthy of being listed on this website. 

The name of the route is "Inspiration Traverse" so it makes sense that the traverse from Cascade River Road to Highway 20 should be the "default" run, and probably the more prestigious option. If it's called a traverse, it should be a traverse. Yes, the long shuttle is inconvenient, but a ton of great routes have inconvenient shuttles. 

That said, the "slam" should be a legitimate route too. If that's what more people do (and a lot more people do those peaks car-to-car than do the traverse) then it's worth listing it as a valid variation.