Mt. Darwin

15 Jun 2003 - by Christopher Jain

I climbed Mt. Darwin yesterday, after hiking in from North Lake via Lamarck Col on Saturday. I went up the North Glacier couloir (in the Sierra Classics book) and descended the West Ridge. The couloir is supposedly averages 45 degrees, but it seemed less then that to me--maybe the steepest part is 45 degrees. In fact, I encountered steeper snow coming down the headwall of the West Ridge.

The bottom part was slushy with a thin crust that quickly melted away. In places I was postholing to my knees even at 8:00 in the morning. The upper part was icy, but luckily (since I was using aluminum crampons and an axe with an aluminum pick) was almost all frozen neve but it appeared that there was water ice under the surface just waiting to be uncovered.

The snow started at 11,000 but it is just in patches now. I did not see any continuous snow coverage, even up higher. The snow was a bit slushy but in general wasn't too difficult to walk on. Where there was postholing, I *usually* didn't sink in further then my knees. The Lamarck Lakes are completely ice-free, but the lakes in Darwin Canyon are still mostly frozen over. It was warm and there was running water from snow-melt everywhere.

The area around North Lake was swarming with mosquitoes, but I didn't notice any yet at the Lamarck Lakes and in Darwin Canyon.

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