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TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

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TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Moonwalker » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:44 pm

Trip Report, Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col, August 14-20, 2012

Ray, Corey, and I (Eric) went into the northeast part of Kings Canyon on August 14. Our goal was to climb and then circle around Mt Goddard, going in at Lamarck Col and going out at Echo Col. Ray was the only climber. Though I have experience in the backcountry here, I generally do not like exposure on uncertain terrain. We planned five hiking days, one day to climb Goddard, and one day to relax. Ray and I had tried to climb Mt Goddard from Lake 11592 in upper Ionian Basin two years earlier, but stalled on the small knots of Goddard Divide about 1/3 of the way between Wanda Pass and the summit. It was dangerous, felt wrong (to me), and we realized that we had not started early enough. Then I pulled a muscle pretty badly on the way out, and we weren't able to come back until this year. Ray and I are 53, and this year we brought along Ray's son-in-law, a young marine named Corey.

I'm writing this report partly for the benefit of hikers planning trips, as I have benefitted from similar reports on this forum, and also to discuss Echo Col for backpackers. The trip I'm describing is not for inexperienced hikers; it is strenuous, there are lots of route finding issues, and the area is remote. I refer to the Yosemite Decimal System used by Secor in his "High Sierra Peaks Passes and Trails". Secor notes this system is "complex and illogical, and can be confusing to beginners and experts alike." Class 2 is difficult cross-country travel, and can include extremely dangerous conditions. Class 3 is when "hands and feet are used not just for balance but to hang on to the rock. Steep or large talus can be rated as class 3." But the holds are large and easy to locate.

I have some photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 7852447926
I've linked to a few in the text below, but couldn't figure out how to upload them. We saw very few critters: chipmunks, a weasel, a pika or two, frogs, and some mountain rats (marmots). No bears, no mosquitoes.

Day 1. We spent the night at North Lake Campground and were on trail by 6:30am. Our first goal was Lamarck Col, which we reached by 11:30. The area just north of the col had reconfigured since the last time I saw it, 2 years ago. The snow no longer terminates at the tarn, but rather just dumps out onto some rock and dirt. And it has a streak of ice right down the middle, blocking the usual path and forcing us to either cut steps or resort to the rocky upper edge. We tried the former for about one minute, then went to the edge, which was easy. We reached the Col at 11:30, then were down to the upper Darwin Canyon lake by 1:00. I remember someone on this forum said that the route from the col to the lake had been marked; that is not the case now. It rained for the next 2.5 hours while we picked our way along the lake shores of Darwin Canyon toward Darwin Bench, which we reached at around 3:30. Fortunately our clothes were Hefty bagged inside our packs, so everything was dry, except for my socks, which were soaking wet inside my "waterproof" Goretex boots.

Day 2. We woke up late, were on the trail by 9am, at Evolution Lake a short time later, and spent some time ogling the view from the outlet. Then we hiked up to Lake 11196 just north of Mt Goddard, arriving at 2:30. This was to be our base camp for the next day's attempt at Starr's Route up to Mt Goddard.

Day 3. We started Starr's Route at 6:00 am, gaining access to the base of the north ridge of Peak 13,040+ by hiking just to its west. It was partly cloudy when we woke, and our plan was to be up and down before the weather moved in in the early afternoon. Though it is listed as a class 2 route there is some mild climbing involved, and some exposed ledging near the top, which I think would pass completely unnoticed by almost any climber :cool: . But the route is currently well marked by cairns all the way up the north ridge, and we had no trouble following once we got on, and no trouble trudging up the talus slope leading to the top once we got off. The view was fantastic. We made it up in 3 hours and 40 minutes, down in 3:20, and the weather held up. Went for a swim.

North Ridge, Peak 13,040+
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 1226242344

View from Goddard (1)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 1226242344

View from Goddard (2)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 1226242344

View from Goddard (3)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 1226242344

Day 4. An epic day. We left Lake 11196 at 7:30am and hiked along Davis Lake, around the west side of Mt Goddard, and up through Goddard Divide to the lake above Lake 11951, before descending to Lake 11818 to camp at around 7pm. We tried to walk along the shore side of the small 11360+ rock at the very western side of Davis Lake, but had to turn back; you can't even wade it. The hike down to Martha Lake and up to Goddard Pass was spectacular.

Day 5. I personally did nothing but sit around the camp all day, feeling like I had reached a destination of sorts. The sky was mostly cloudy, as on most days of this trip. We met a guy named Byron after not seeing anyone for three days. He was doing almost exactly the same thing as we were, only in the opposite direction, and with more climbing. He showed us Secor's new (?) advice about the southern approach to Echo Col, see below. Thanks Byron!

Lake 11818
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 1226242344

Day 6. We left Lake 11818 and hiked up toward Scylla, then descended to the outlet of Chasm Lake (no snow!) before climbing to lower Ionian Basin, over Black Giant Pass, and down the PCT to a camping zone south of Echo Col. Another pretty long day, though not as long as Day 4.

Descent, Scylla in Background:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 1226242344

Day 7. We were on task at 6am, soon up to Lake 11428 below Echo Col. From there we went due north to the base of Echo Col. The (3rd?) edition of Secor's "The High Sierra" in Byron's Kindle has a paragraph not included in the 2nd edition. It says "Those approaching Echo Col from the south should aim for the sharp notch to the left (west), marked with white rock on the left and black rock on the right." It has the same north-to-south advice as the 2nd edition, which is to go over "atop a chimney marked by black rock; .. not the easier-appearing pass to the left (east)". Are these two different routes? Since we were going south-to-north, we went with the white notch to the left of the black rectangular-shaped notch. The ascent was short class 3, with a single, easy climbing move that was nevertheless amongst some loose rock, in an exposed setting. Of the two conceivable ways of going up to the white notch, the western one is easier. It was clear that many people go this way, but a backpacker could easily be dismayed :eek: by the challenge here, not because of the move but because of the consequences of a failed hand or foot hold. Properly done, the risk is low. The descent on the north side is class 2, but slightly exposed, and again a backpacker might get a little bug-eyed at the challenge here. Though the rock is loose it is heavier than the nasty flakey white stuff on the south side, and though there were some mild climbing moves, we always had a foot on "terra firma" as Byron put it, even if the ledge was thin, or sloping. The route goes west from the top, then doubles back east after you go down a bit. From the top looking down the way is pretty obvious. Once we were down we danced a little jig, before contouring above the cliffs of Echo Lake, where there was no snow, down to the outlet, where I dove into the beautiful water. Then we began the 7-hour slog down to Lake Sabrina, arriving at 6pm.

Echo Col, North Side:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38194475@N ... 1226242344

On the above photo, we came over at the top where the white boulder is.

Echo Col.
As it stands I would probably not use Echo Col again unless there was some compelling reason I can't think of now. We made it to Ionian Basin easily in two days from North Lake, and it would take two days from Lake Sabrina also. Incidentally, I've been over Wallace Col (which also connects the Sabrina Lakes trail to the PCT) twice, and it is a very dangerous class 2 route. Severe objective danger. Echo Col is not nearly as objectively dangerous, but backpackers should attempt it only if they really know what they are doing. This route does not presently require the ice axe mentioned by Secor.
Last edited by Moonwalker on Sun Aug 26, 2012 9:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Bluewater » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:53 pm

Thank you for your trip report! I appreciate the photos and details about Starr's Route and Echo Col. It sounds like you had a great trip.
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:53 am

Nice report and descriptions of some adventurous off trail hiking. By the way, I can picture some of the difficulties with your earlier failed attempt on Goddard two years ago. I climbed Goddard with my dad, in 1977 from Sapphire Lake via Wanda Pass and the really long traverse to the peak from there--a truly crummy route compared to the Starr route you climbed this year. In any case, we found the long steep sidehills from Wanda Pass miserable, so we eventually climbed up to the top of the knife edge ridge which we found narrow but way easier to walk over. My dad fell on one of those sidehill sections and the hip injury from that fall eventually led to deterioration of the joint that shut down his backpacking 15 years later. Bottom line is that the Starr route you did is a much nicer way up. Speaking of Echo Col. on the 1977 trip, my dad and I entered and left Evolution via Haeckel Col which has a few class 3 moves that are quite athletic with a full pack on. From that point on, I decided that all of my future trips to Evolution would be done via Lamarck Col.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Moonwalker » Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:38 am

@ giantbrookie: What happened to your dad was exactly the kind of thing I was afraid of for myself on that route. What a drag for him, I can only imagine having to give all this up because of a stupid injury. I wasn't even sure I could make it on the edge of the ridge, with the repetitive up and down class 3 over flaking rock. We had a young kid with us then too (Ray's son), and he looked pretty scared, so I decided to call it off. The sidehill section alternatives looked almost impassable, or we would have tried. I agree, Lamarck Col is the default way into this part of the Sierra.

It was a great trip, maybe the best yet. Thanks for the comments!
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Bluewater » Sat Aug 25, 2012 7:11 pm

Thanx again for your TR & photos.

I've been searching the web (summitpost, climber, google, outwild etc etc) for good photos of the approach to EC and yours are by far the best I've seen. Your experience is very much appreciated by those of us considering similar x/c routes!

I was in the area a few days ago and took this picture from the JMT. Does this look like the right notch to take from the southwest side of Echo Col? Edit: I just re-read your post, I guess the white notch to the left of the arrow might be the right/correct one?

echo from the southwest side.JPG
echo col from the southwest side


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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Moonwalker » Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:23 pm

I think Secor is referring to the first notch to the left of your arrow, and that's where we went. It's pretty easy to climb to the notch your arrow points to, but I haven't gone down the other (north) side. My guess is that people do both, but that the black notch is a little hairier to descend from on the north side.

The only reason I can think of to take Echo Col is for variety. If the goal is Wanda Lake, Lamarck Col is faster and easier, and nicer (imo). There is a thread on this forum comparing Lamarck to Echo, and I think the conclusion is similar.

By the way, how do you upload photos like that?

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TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby ironmike » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:25 am

Fantastic photo set. Was particularly intrigued by the Ionian shots, since I'll be there in about 2 weeks (although approaching from the west). VERY low snow year...almost looks barren in the Basin. Your first photo of Lake 11818 is incredible - such intense colors! Thanks for the TR.
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Bluewater » Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:23 pm

Thanks for sharing your route details Eric. Much appreciated!

To add a photo I go to the "Upload Attachment" tab toward the bottom of the page.

From there click "Choose File" and add a photo from anywhere on the computer. It's possible to add a caption below the file.

Then click "Add The File".

After uploading all of the photos you want to include with the post (max 10 pxts per post) place the cursor where you want the photos within the post and click "Place inline".

420930.jpg
echo col from the north


The max file size is 2 megs so I usually reduce photos prior to uploading.

Hope that helps, Andy.
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Moonwalker » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:55 pm

Thanks ironmike, yeah I too was surprised at how little snow there is left up there. I still found use for my ice axe, but had to be creative. And thanks Andy for gently cluing me in about the "Upload attachment" tab at the bottom. I see it now.
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby cgundersen » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:37 am

Moonwalker,
Fantastic photo set and a perfect reminder why one needs really to be motivated to consider Echo col. A buddy dragged me through there about 10 years ago and my heart was in my throat for the first 30 min on the way down. But, the adrenaline buzz lasted all the way to Sabrina. And, to add my 2 cents to the fastest way into Evo country (from the East), I've found Piute Pass and Alpine col to be about comparable to Lamarck and I'd guess the elapsed time to Darwin bench would be very similar....
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Mike M. » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:12 pm

Moonwalker, we were camped at the high lake adjacent to Scylla the morning of August 19th and were surprised to see three hikers crossing a snowbank above the lake. Was that your group?

Mike
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col -> Mt Goddard -> Echo Col

Postby Moonwalker » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:34 am

Hi Mike, yes that was us, chiseling our way across the snowfield. We saw you (I guess it was you) standing on the other side watching us go by.

IMG_2295.jpg
Lake north of Scylla


Nice camping spot! At that hour I felt like I might be intruding on your morning coffee, so we just kept our heads down and went through without a wave. I guess you came up around the outlet of Chasm Lake, same way we went down? What a great section that was. -Eric
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