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Lamarck Col

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Lamarck Col

Postby rscofield » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:51 pm

Hi

Planning a trip over Lamarck in a few weeks. Is it really class 2 as Secor describes? How about the snow field on the east side? I would rate myself as a 3 on your ability scale but am not a technical mountaineer. Also any advice on west-east versus east-west route? Sorry if this info already exist. I did some searching and didn't really find answers to my questions. Thanks in advance!



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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby Take-a-Hike » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:18 pm

It's easy especially east to west. Wife 'n I did it...and we're over 55. Class 2, worst...this time of year, if snow still there...there's a path across it. There is some talus at the bottom and then picking your way down to Darwin Lakes. To us, that was the worst part of the trek, going down to the lakes. If you go west-east....I hear picking the right spot marking the actual col may be tricky...but if at first you miss it, it's there somewhere....there's not many other places to go up there. I know of folks on here who go all the way through the col in a day....we stopped at the upper Lamarck Lake, went through on day 2....that was fine...it was the going down where we dragged. We ended up staying next nite at one of the Darwins. LIke I said....we're old.
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby calipidder » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:39 pm

The biggest key to a successful crossing is knowing exactly what to aim for.

Here is the east side of the Col Labor Day weekend 2009:
Image

Note the track across the big snow field - if we had followed this we would NOT have found the col. The col is actually to the left end of the big snow field. Only a small amount of snow needed to be crossed, but last year was dry. I imagine there is more snow this year, but by september it should be nothing major. The snow track in the photo might have made sense when there was more snow and careful crossing was necessary, but when we were there it just confused people. I have a coordinate for the Col somewhere. Will you be carrying a GPS?

A friend of mine crossed the col for the first time a few days after I took the photo above, but she didn't know exactly where to go and ended up in some gnarly terrain due to following the use trails and paths. Lesson is (which is very quickly learned when doing any cross-country travel in the sierra): don't necessarily trust footprints and cairns. Always make sure your own route finding ability is better than the fool who was wandering around up there before you. :)
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby mokelumnekid » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:39 pm

Last time we went over (east-to-west) an entire boy scout troop and adults, maybe a group of twenty five, met us at the top coming over west-to-east. Even the out of shape kids. (I had a long talk with the scout master about violating the terms of his wilderness permit(s)...and raised hell at the Bishop ranger station after coming out.) Point is only to take your time but also to be sure that there is no looming weather (one year we barely, and I mean barley, got off the west side talus before a heavy rain started) because it is exposed.

I do remember one year when going up from North Lake, with no time spent at elevation- getting surprisingly winded in the last half-mile or so. That doesn't usually happen to me for some reason. Just saying.
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby Jimr » Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:41 am

I went over the col west to east three weeks ago. The snow fields are no big deal. We only crossed a couple of small areas on the east slope below the col., maybe 6 or 7 steps through each, and one fairly well worn path through a larger field on flat scree. I've been waiting for pics from my partner to post a TR, but he cannot find his camera cord, so maybe I'll just post one and add pics later.
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby rscofield » Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:11 am

Thanks for everyone's response! I usually don't take a GPS due to weight but I do plan my trips in Arcmap ;) so the coordinates would be helpful. I suppose I can throw it in if necessary. I am a little concerned with the recent cool snap (lows in the 40s here in Joshua Tree) so will keep an eye to the forecast/wx. My plan is loop over Lamarck to JMT, up to Piute Pass Trail and out via it.
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby Take-a-Hike » Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:25 am

that's the loop wife 'n I did a few years ago. My intent was to go in, spend time around Evolution and the McGhee Lakes area, then back out Lamarck. When we got down to the Darwins, wife turned around and looked back up towards to Col, said, "If u think I'm going back up there, u r nuts, so you'd better figure out another way out of here"! Thus, the loop out via Piute. IMO, you won't need GPS....it's pretty much laid out right in front of you. Thanks to info found here when going up from Lamarck Lakes, the use trails take you just about to the junk below the Col and I knew to hang to the left when you get close to the top. It pretty much funnels you right to where you need to go. Going down on the west side is pretty much a matter of preference and picking a use trail that suits you.
Now, if you're real adventurous, there's another pass, off trail, that others here can advise about, that'll take you over to the Piute area probably in a much more scnenic route w/out going all the way around on the JMT, then the Piute Pass trail. The route heads north from the Darwin Bench area, but beyond that, that's all i know. When we were heading down off the bench we ran into a m/w who were headed up that direction and over the pass. But from what I recall reading here, it's not for the faint of heart....
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby maverick » Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:28 am

Easy class 2 from the east, and you do not need a GPS.
Phil Arnot in his "High Sierra" book has the route well described if you need
it.
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby Jimr » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:14 pm

The couloirs North of Darwin Bench lie on either side of Mt. Muriel. To the East is the Keyhole (class 3) and to the West is Alpine Col (class 2). The trip from Darwin Bench north over Alpine col and around Goethe Lakes requires a fair amount of x country scrambling. When I was there less than a month ago, there was still a significant snowfield on the East side of the highest lake in this chain. The slope is steep and the snow field drops precipitously into the lake. There is no self arrest on that slope until you hit water (which obviously does not qualify as self arrest). Without Ice Axe / crampons, the only reasonably safe passage is near the top of the field where it becomes less steep and has developed sun cups to aide your movement.

I would only suggest that route to those who are comfortable going x country. For those comfortable x country, it is a fun, but arduous trip. There's really only one way from Darwin Bench as the lakes sit in steep, narrow canyon with one side obviously very steep and the other side do-able. Go high to the right of the bottom lake outlet from Darwin Bench, pass between the lower and middle lake passing the middle lake on the left, then up the outlet stream of the highest lake moving high to the right of that lake, continuing up until you feel you can safely cross the snowfield, then around the lake to the straight forward ascent to Alpine Col west of Mt. Muriel. Descending to Goethe Lake, stay left and move around both lakes on the western shore unless you enjoy spending the rest of your day on Class II/III talus. Somewhere, probably on this forum, I read that this is the talus to which all other is measured. It certainly added about 4 hours of tedious work to our day.
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Re: Lamarck Col

Postby nevadasmith » Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:40 am

I went up & over Lamarck col back around 1984 or '85 A buddy & I left out of South Lake through
Dusy basin, then north through Evolution valley & then on up through the Darwin lakes, We
arrived late in the day & tried to set up a camp at the lake just below the col.
It was not to be, A fierce wind was blowing so hard it was impossible to set up a tent, & there
were clouds rolling in & it was very cold. We ended up searching for a cave amongst the many
large alpine boulders that made up much of the landscape. We each found are own mini cave
to spend the night in & it was quite miserable. We got up very early the next day & the wind had
died down considerably.
There was much snow on the south side of Lamarck col leading all the way down to the lakes edge.
It was very sketchy traversing along the steep snow covered incline & I knew damn well that
if either of us were to slip down that slope with a loaded down backpack strapped to Our backs that
We would be dead meat at the bottom of that lake.
So We at least unfastened Our waist belts & made sure that the packs could be removed quickly if
we found Ourselves under water. We each had a hatchet to assist in getting across the slippery
snow. We went pretty early in the season so there wasn't much of a trail. I think that
it would be less hazardous later in the season as hikers create a trail across the snow.
Besides the usual snow, There is also some boulder hopping that is required.
I would say the hike up & over Lamarck col is not that tough for a seasoned hiker but may be tough
for hikers that are used to hiking well maintained mild mannered trails like the JMT
The Darwin lakes I think have some of the most beautifully colored glacial water I have seen in
the eastern sierras, probably due to the deeper depths than the average alpine lake.
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