Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop | High Sierra Topix  

Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby Bluewater » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:00 pm

Many thanks to the HST community for posting inspirational trip reports and detailed route plans. As a result of the information and experience that has been shared here I have become more confident in planning a mostly cross country trip for next summer.

I am comfortable with trail and x-country travel. I have 20 years experience with class 2 terrain and spent my 20's and 30's climbing up and down the granite valleys and domes (especially Dinkey Creek and Dinkey Dome) in the southern Sierra. My recent class 3 climbing experience is limited to the southwest approach up Mt. Nelson (a steep class 3 boulder scramble).

I am comfortable with river crossings. I thru hiked the JMT solo last summer and my pace on the trail is usually 15 miles/day with a few 20 mile days (max). I am comfortable hiking and climbing solo and carry a SPOT II just in case.

My snow climbing experience is limited. I climbed the snow field along the east slope of Vogelsang in June last summer. It was afternoon and I was comfortable kick-stepping along the snow while wearing trail runners on the way to the top (and fun sliding/postholing on the way down). I do not have experience with crampons or an ice axe.

My main interests are big mountain scenery, lakes, climbing, photography and I really enjoy being above treeline.

I am planning an eight day solo loop trip through Ionian Basin, Evolution Basin and Darwin Canyon starting and ending at the North Lake TH. This is my basic itinerary:

Day 1: North Lake TH to Moonlight Lake (+- 9 miles)
Day 2: Moonlight Lake over Echo Col to Helen Lake (5 miles)
Day 3: Helen Lake, climb Black Giant, camp at lake below Scylla (6 miles)
Day 4: Climb Scylla, over Goddard Pass to lakes west of Mt. Goddard (6 miles)
Day 5: Lakes west of Mt. Goddard to Davis Lake (4 miles)
Day 6: Climb Goddard, over Davis Pass to Sapphire Lake (6 miles)
Day 7: Sapphire Lake to Darwin Bench (4 miles)
Day 8: Darwin Bench, over Lamarck Col, to North Lake TH (8 miles)

The daily mileage is low to leave room for extra side trips or possible contingency plans. I can see days 4 and 5 being combined into a single day, but I'm just not sure.

Day 6 includes climbing Mt. Goddard via Starr's Route. I've read that Starr's Route is supposedly class 2, but any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

Day 7 is a short day to leave room for exploring the lakes to the east (Lakes 11,398, 11,808, 12,021) and checking out the approach to Haeckel-Wallace col for later.

I have read a lot about Echo Col and although I have limited class 3 experience it seems reasonable. I travel light and will be carrying under 20 lbs over this pass, unless I need to bring crampons or an ice axe. Secor recommends crampons and an ice axe for the northeast side of Echo Col, but I've read trip reports with pictures showing people climbing it without (probably in late season). I am hoping for a low snow year, and would be making this trip in late July/early August this summer.

Any advice or tips would be very much appreciated. I realize this is probably a novice loop hike in relation to the trips many of you have made.

Thanks again to all here at HST. Andy.

Here are a few maps of the route:

ionian basin loop overview.JPG
overview map


ionian basin loop detail.JPG
ionian basin detail


Starr's Route Overview.JPG
starr's route



User avatar
Bluewater
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 530
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:33 pm
Location: Laguna Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby cgundersen » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:59 pm

Hi Bluewater,
I understand leaving from North Lake so you have transportation when you get out, but that will make for a weird first day, because you'll be on road a lot to get to Sabrina and up to Moonlight. With luck, someone will give you a lift.
I've only done Echo col in the reverse direction and it's a doozie. You'll be climbing up the harder side (there is lots of talus to slow your approach), and personally I prefer it that way. The good news is that the rest of the trip will seem easy by comparison. And, it IS a low snow year!
Good luck,
CG
User avatar
cgundersen
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:07 pm

Scrambling with a day pack and going over Echo Col with full pack, day 2 of a trip, are two different things. How about reversing the route so that you go over the easier Lemark Col first when your pack is its heaviest? Lemark is a grunt but nothing that difficult. There are several places to camp on the east side if you do not want to attempt the actual pass on Day 1. I went that way years ago on a 2-week trip and my pack was a load. I camped at the little lake on the east side right below the pass.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2606
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:23 pm

You need to be very proficient on talus to make your schedule plus do the climbs. I do not think your mileage is "low" for that terrain. I doubt you will be able to combine days. Ionian Basin is slow travel - the talus is not real friendly- lots of platey sharp stuff and there are lots of tricky micro-route finding issues. Most of the time I had and used an ice axe when in Ionian Basin. But it is hard to judge because everytime I bring an ice axe, I find good use for it- not that I would HAVE to have it. Ionian Basin tends to hold snow on north pockets, even in the dry years. You can probably do OK but may have to do a few time consuming detours. The last time I camped below Scylla in 2008, I was on a trip without an ice axe, and the snow was steep enough that I did not do the climb with only trekking poles. Have you thought about bringing micro-spikes? And I personally would not go UL in Ionian Basin. It is very exposed and can be really nasty if weather deteriorates. A mountaineering bivy sack would be OK but I am not sure I would want to depend on an UL poncho or equivelant. I also would use a stiffer shoe than trail runners in Ionian Basin. The terrain is really hard on feet and less sturdy shoes.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2606
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby whrdafamI? » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:55 pm

cgundersen wrote:Hi Bluewater,
I understand leaving from North Lake so you have transportation when you get out, but that will make for a weird first day, because you'll be on road a lot to get to Sabrina and up to Moonlight. With luck, someone will give you a lift.
I've only done Echo col in the reverse direction and it's a doozie. You'll be climbing up the harder side (there is lots of talus to slow your approach), and personally I prefer it that way. The good news is that the rest of the trip will seem easy by comparison. And, it IS a low snow year!
Good luck,
CG

I don't understand this at all. He doesn't mention going to Sabrina so why would you think that he would?
Better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it!

Get busy living or get busy dying.
User avatar
whrdafamI?
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 205
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:31 am
Location: Ontario, California
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:30 pm

Because the map shows his route going by Lake Sabrina?
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1758
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby maverick » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:07 pm

Hi Andy

Your route looks fine, but like other said, the reverse would be easier. Echo is steep
enough, no need to make things more difficult with 6 days food, and only a day of
elevation under your belt, unless like some us you like challenging yourself.
There are not a lot of good campsites in Ionian. The most descent of the few
green patches patches available in the basin are at the northeast end of Lake 11,592
and the northern end of Chasm Lake.
This may give you some more ideas: http://www.summitpost.org/scylla/183566
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:52 pm

Your drawing for Black Giant is about right. If you head East from the North shore of Lake 11,939 you can climb up a bit to a more level section you can follow South until just below the summit for a push straight up. It's still going to be loose talus and scree climbing but it's better then what I did on it.
User avatar
RoguePhotonic
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1665
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:52 am
Location: Bakersfield CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby kpeter » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:01 pm

Wow. Sounds amazing. Moonlight Lake is one of my favorites. The hike up to Echo was a delight to scramble alongside the waterworks of a cascading stream. I'm not a climber and don't know a thing about Echo Col and am always impressed to hear that people can actually go over such places.

The hike along the road from Sabrina to North Lake took me about an hour last summer and I was going uphill. It is not exciting but it will be a minor speed bump on your hike.
User avatar
kpeter
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 555
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:11 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby Bluewater » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:54 am

Thanks for your replies!

It sounds like the consensus is to reverse the direction of the loop. I originally wanted to keep the approach to Echo Col from the northeast side (possibly easier), but it definitely makes more sense to do it the other way around to take advantage of the lower pack weight and acclimatization at the end of the trip. This is just the kind of advice I was hoping for, thanks! If the way down the northeast side of Echo Col looks like too much I can always head back to the JMT and use Bishop Pass as an alternative.

@cgunderson; I've heard that the stretch of dirt road on the way from North Lake TH to Sabrina is unpleasant at best. I may end up leaving my car at Sabrina and do that stretch to North Lake TH on day one as it may be easier to hitch a ride at the beginning of the trip while still civilized/clean.

@wanderingdaisy; thanks for your trip report on the blackcap/ionian basins, it's part of what got me interested in this area. It's good to know that my mileage seems ok. Since this will be my first time doing a long x/c trip I left a lot of breathing room. I figure if I get way behind I can skip some of the peaks.

I was considering taking a poncho/groundsheet/pack cover, but I will plan on taking a w/p/b rain jacket (NF Triumph Anorak), rain pants and dedicated pack cover just in case. It will only add a half pound and considering your comments should be completely worth the weight. I am comfortable using a bivy and 6x9x8 tarp combo in heavy winds and rain (and I like the option to sleep under the stars when it is clear). I have micro-spikes. Do you think it's 'worth getting some lightweight crampons or just bring the micro-spikes?

@maverick; thanks for the ionian basin camp site tips. The summitpost link is much appreciated, those guys are thorough, real mountaineers.

@roguephotonic; thanx for the info on black giant. Your trip last summer was truly epic. I saw that you have Scylla included on your trip for this summer. Do you plan on bringing crampons or an ice axe?
User avatar
Bluewater
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 530
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:33 pm
Location: Laguna Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:04 am

I do intend to start with an ice axe and micro spikes but how long I keep them will depend on the conditions and of course my options for sending them home. Infact now that I think about it I wouldn't have the option to mail them home until I reached VVR like over 80 days in so yeah I will have them.
User avatar
RoguePhotonic
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1665
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:52 am
Location: Bakersfield CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Trip Advice: Ionian - Evolution - Darwin Loop

Postby tim » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:11 am

I've not done it myself (though looking at it for this summer), but I thought the recommended exit from Davis Lakes basin (Day 5 on your routeplan) was to go up to the pond just NW of the lake and drop into N Goddard Creek drainage to avoid cliffs on the direct route to the lake outlet?
User avatar
tim
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 496
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:36 pm
Location: Bay Area
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 11 guests