North Col

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North Col

Post by erutan » Sun Apr 04, 2021 5:28 pm

TITLE: North Col

GENERAL OVERVIEW: This pass leads between Little Lakes Valley and Italy Basin.

CLASS/DIFFICULTY: Class 2, with some stable ledgey Class 3 the top that one can mostly avoid.

LOCATION: NW of Cox Col along Bear Creek Spire, before next high point on ridge HST Map

ELEVATION: 13,020ft

COORDINATES: 37.37153, -118.77081

USGS TOPO MAP (7.5'): Mt Hilgard

DESCRIPTION: Much preferred alternative to Cox Col.

From Dade Lake, follow the come-and-go approach route for Bear Creek Spire for most of the way up.

You can start off either climbing directly up the gully from its southern corner (where there's something of a pass through light talus), or cut above it to the east then drop down into it. From there climb up heading south over mostly slabby terrain, then cut to the western side (right as your ascending) of the gully and continue up some loose but inconsequential terrain up. Depending on snow levels there may be visible path(es) once you're off the slabbier section. If you do need to deviate due to snow, there's no major cause for concern. The first time I did this I was just going by Secor's brief descriptions and found my way. :)

Your main goal is to climb up onto the top of the arm just NW of Bear Creek Spire from this gully - waiting until what felt like the last minute to do so is what I did in a low snow approach, in late July 2016 I cut over far sooner to where it gradually climbs up. Once up on this ridge, continue north while eyeing the wall until you find a spot of your liking before the next "peak" in the ridge, 13,160+ (13,040 ft+). You can go directly up solid chunky class 3, or take your time to go up (at least) two spots that are more class 2.

The backside is 2 easy to class 1. I've always just swung around to Gabbot pass from here (aiming for the pond in the cirque below it with some wiggling here and there has worked well for me), or you can just drop down to Italy from that cirque. Level 3 backpackers should be quite comfortable doing this.

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