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Ladder Lake to Ionian (Now with TR)

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Ladder Lake to Ionian (Now with TR)

Postby Coops » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:34 pm

Anyone have good adivce on passing from Ladder Lake into Ionian Basin? Wandering Daisy had a good route from Ladder to Lake 11654 and Hester, but I'm wondering if anyone has crossed from Lake 11654 over to the basin directly West. If so, how was the climb and descent? From that basin it looks to be relatively smooth sailing over to Lake 11826. It looks like Rogue did something along these lines this year, but not sure the exact route. Any advice would be useful. Thanks!
Last edited by Coops on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby cgundersen » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:16 am

Coops,
That's an obscure area that I'd hoped to visit last year, but the snow precluded doing it. At some point, Maverick may chime in, and yes, I thought that rogue was headed through that area, so he might help next time he checks in. As I was thinking about those routes last year, I did come across an excellent report (I think on climbers.org) about a group that essentially ran the ridge of the Black Divide as a prelude to climbing the tallest of the Devil's Crags. There were excellent photos that might help. Otherwise, I think you may be the one educating the rest of us...
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby Coops » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:30 am

Thanks CG. I found those trip reports and there are some interesting routes, with lots of peak bagging, but I didn't see anything that addressed crossing the Black Divide. The more I look, it appears that crossing the divide at Lake 11654 looks possible, although it's more of a summit than a pass. We pack light, but will probably still have 5 days of food at that point, so it will be a judgement call when we get there, with the bail-out option being to just go around the divide via the JMT and then over Black Giant or Wanda Pass to get into the Ionian for a night.
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby cgundersen » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:52 am

coops,
I'll be very keen to hear/see a report when you get back. Aside from Rambaud Pass, there is no other clear option for crossing the Black Divide, but like you, I've wondered about that spot. I've looked at distant photos I have of that ridge, but they're not much help. Good luck!
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:47 pm

I'd post pictures if I could but since you know about going North of Ladder over that pass I will start from there.

The highest Lake there just below the crossing from Hester to Ladder go around the Eastern shore and ending at it's outlet is a ridge coming down from the divide. I came up below this ridge on it's Southern side only far enough to avoid some small cliffs on it and then went straight up and took it all the way from there. This involved plenty of class 3 by the time you are getting closer to the top. I believe it might be better to follow at the base of the ridge until you are almost below a red section of rock above. When you reach this go up to the red rock (class 3) where a small ramp leads up to a small chute, turn right and do not enter the chute but climb around the rock to a saddle covered in bright red rock. Go directly up the ridge from here until just before the top a small bowl is in front of you. You can contour around it or do what I did and climb straight up to the top where you will be on the summit of this ridge area offering fine views.

I had 9 days of food on me when I did this and it's some wild class 3 but was over all not too much trouble. I have been trying to think of a good name to call this crossing but I have not come up with anything yet.

If you need to know more ask before I leave Mammoth on Monday and I will try to help.
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby Coops » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:06 am

Thanks Rogue. This sounds like the exact spot that CG and I were referring to. If you are still in Mammoth, can you offer any advice on the Western side of the ridge? It looks possible to descend then contour over to a saddle that leads north and down to Lake 11828. If that looks too dodgey, then it would be a descent and contour directly west southwest and around to 11828.
Anyhow, we'll keep those red rock markers in mind, but it sounds like a choose-your-own-route-depneding-on-what-looks-good sort of pass/ridge crossing.
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby cgundersen » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:48 am

Coops/Rogue,
Sounds like a fun time from Rogue's commentary! Anyway, if either/both of you can get photos up someday, it'll help propel some other Black divide dreamers.
Thanks,
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:32 pm

Dropping the Western side is not very steep but sort of annoying size of small rocks. I went West then did a small unnamed pass down to the lake below Black Giant Pass. That on it's South side was class 1, the North side was class 2 with some lose rock at times but pretty easy to get down to the lake.

I have photos but when will I get them up? :eek:

I don't know when you plan to go but I can post them at some point in this thread. Maybe sooner if you need them.
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian (Now with TR)

Postby Coops » Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:53 pm

My wife and I completed this trip from 9/22 to 9/27. I don’t have mapping software, but rely on the USGS maps that I have on my computer, so I don’t have the capability (that I’m aware of) to illustrate the route on a map. I don’t use GPS either.
We started our hike late morning on Saturday 9/22 at the South Lake trailhead. The Fall colors in that area were spectacular. Not really pressed for time, we opted to go over to the quaint and peaceful Rainbow Lakes for camp as opposed to descending further down the Bishop Pass trail.
The next goal was Ladder Lake. Nice Fall colors descending the Bishop Creek Trail:
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The Middle Fork was a particularly easy crossing this time of year…feet didn’t even get wet. The climb to Ladder is pretty straightforward if you stay a ways north of the creek and pay close attention to avoid long stretches of scrub bashing. The final talus chute to the lake is pretty obvious if you are on the right course and aware of your location on the map. We both found Ladder Lake to be really nice and found the only decent camp spots on the southwest side. Clouds were building, but not too threatening, so we decided to climb Citadel. The climb is tedious, but not difficult and the final section/ridge is actually really fun as can be seen in the pictures:
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The view from Citadel was better than we expected and well worth the climb from Ladder…not too many names annually left in the register. Saw Rogue’s entry from this year.
We slept away a noisy night with high winds barreling over the Black Divide and through the whitebarks around us.
The next morning, we walked up past this narrow lake:
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To lake 11172 and over the straightforward pass to lake 11654. The pass is to the right in the picture above.
From here, we took a short detour to see Hester Lake from above:
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We didn’t see the plane crash Rogue had mentioned. Rogue, can you confirm if that is on the southwest shore? That was the only obstructed part of the lake from our viewpoint.
Our next goal was to cross the Black Divide via the ridgeline the rises out of the outlet of lake 11654. With careful route finding, this crossing can indeed be considered class 3, but it’s really easy to find yourself on class 4 rock in the upper reaches of the ridge. For those interested I’ll detail the way we took: Gain the south side of the ridge and ascend it to a point where things become noticeably steeper. Sometimes walking on the ridge proved beneficial.
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At this point in the photo below, I saw a ledge that went to the base of the Black Divide. We followed the ledge to the chute closest to the Divide (the leftmost when coming from the east).
IMG_0358.JPG
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby Coops » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:00 pm

Climb this class 3-4ish chute to a point where it is possible to move into the chute on the right (maybe 20-25 feet) and then take this chute to a notch. (Class 3-4ish shown below)
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Pass through the notch to a steep scree chute. Look up to find the following:
Ascend to a narrow ledge that leads back southeast (we found this to be the key). Walk the ledge to its end (only 3-5 paces) and you’ll see a way up and to the right. Ascend until you can exit onto the ridge.
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The views from this Black Divide Crossing are great.
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I can’t consciously recommend this crossing to everyone (trust me, my wife was pretty pissed at me at this point) but it is suitable for strong hikers. Descending it (from west to east) may require a pack haul. I’d be curious to hear Rogue’s take on this crossing as he mentioned going a different way that looked pretty hairy. The west side of the crossing is small tedious scree:
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We descended, and then went up to the next pass on the right, dropped packs, and summited Black Giant. This was an easy climb and well worth the effort for the fabulous views.
We then descended the pass to lake 11828.
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This lake reminded me a bit of the lake on the west side of Pyra Queen Col, below Black Kaweah. From here, we descended fairly easily to Chasm Lake for camp. We didn’t find a great spot to camp here (it was mentioned somewhere on this forum that there was a good spot…maybe for a single bivy). However, we found a decent enough spot near a waterfall, looking up at Charybdis.
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The following morning, we climbed to lake 11592 and then up to Wanda Pass. There were several ways to go up the south side of this pass…all class 2 for the most part.
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It had been our goal to climb Goddard, and while we wanted to go Starr’s Route, since we were at Wanda, we decided to traverse the ridge. An hour later of tedious talus, we reached this point:
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And opted to turn around since we didn’t bring enough water and the tedium just wouldn’t have been worth the view this time. I wouldn’t recommend this way to anyone.
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian

Postby Coops » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:09 pm

Back at our packs, we descended Wanda Pass, snagged water at Wanda Lake, and climbed the easy pass that leads to the upper reaches of the McGee Lakes watershed.
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We found a great, well used camp at Mcgee Lakes and thoroughly enjoyed our stay here…went swimming too.
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The original plan was to cross Haeckel Col, but after the Black Divide Crossing, we opted for the class 2 Darwin Col. So, we descended McGee Canyon, found the old trail, and crossed Evolution to the JMT, up to benches where we left the trail for Darwin Bench. Took a nice long break at the small lake here. To be honest, Darwin Canyon exceeded my expectations. We caught a perfect day weather-wise and no one was in the Canyon while we traversed. The lakes were azure blue, and overall, the hiking through here was delightful and moving. We would have stayed longer, but were determined to put Darwin Col behind us.
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The climb up to Darwin Col is straightforward and the cirque that includes the Darwin Glacier is really impressive:
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The Col is actually not the lowpoint of the broad saddle, but rather the scree chute on the left (shown below):
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We didn’t know this and opted for the saddle. Here we found a near-vertical cliff on the other side. We also found an old register/flask with a note from someone that looked to be from Colombia, SC. The note indicated that the register appeared to be from 1911 (according to the SC guy). Everything was too rusted out to really know for sure. Anyway, we traversed over to the proper col, and screed down the steep, loose chute. This wouldn’t be too suitable for large groups, but it was easy enough. You just had to be careful not to throw rocks and not to fall on your bum. Reminded me of a shorter, looser version of North Palisade’s Southwest chute.
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The descent to Blue Heaven Lake was more convoluted than we thought…same for the descent to Midnight Lake. Careful navigating and we were able to avoid most problems. The night at Midnight Lake was really temperate and peaceful, and Darwin put on a nice light show in the morning.
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We cruised over to Hungry Packer Lake in the morning to see if we could get a shot of the east side of Haeckel Col, but couldn’t. The west side looked pretty surmountable from Wanda. I’ll have to come back and dayhike the east side when I have time in order to get more beta and check the suitability. Regardless, we found this area delightful in general.
From here, we descended the trail to Sabrina and intersected the steep, interesting, George Lake/Table Mountain/Tyee Lakes trail. We took a break at George Lake, but otherwise hammered all the way back to the car at South Lake. The grades on this trail are pretty severe, but I enjoy that sort of directness, and the ecological changes along the way are fascinating. Couldn’t find a hitch, but the road walk was actually pleasant with all the Fall colors along Bishop Creek. Sorry no photos for that section…out of battery.
All in all, great weather, great scenery, great solitude….many, many tons of talus.
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Re: Ladder Lake to Ionian (Now with TR)

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:47 pm

Sounds like you took a route that was a bit more difficult. Did the chute you took top out on the ridge on a pile of bright red rocks? If so I told you not to enter that lol.

Following the ridge to the top was not very difficult although I did make one move with no foot holds where you have to climb by friction while you pull yourself up. Everything else was just picking through class 3 rock and ledges. I have yet to look through the photos but I will add them when I get the chance.

Since you made that crossing you can help me think of a good name for it. :)
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