Mount Darwin, Mount Mendel

20-Aug-93 (California Mountaineering Club)

By: Barbee Tidball


The weather was perfect for climbing and backpacking into Darwin Canyon. We all set out Friday morning (except Larry) for a pleasant, though long trudge into camp. Our plan was to camp on the benches above the lakes in upper Darwin Canyon. There was once a spring up near the first level sandy bench area just down from the pass. However after a fruitless search we had to give up and conclude that the draught years had dried up the upper spring. We headed down into Darwin Canyon and camped near the first lake.

Late Friday night Larry joined the group. Although from the vantage point of our sleeping bags at 11pm. it seemed to take a long time for his head lamp to bob down the canyon to our camp. With Larry's arrival our group now included Greg & Mirna Roach, Jack Wickel, Jim Fujimoto, Scot Jamison, Brian Smith and myself, Barbee.

Saturday morning we headed out to climb both peaks. This was a good snow year and we put on our crampons by the Darwin Glacier. Our climb up Darwin was via the West Ridge. The route is fairly easy to follow. The glacier leads up to a obvious notch. From here it is best to follow R.J.'s route description. Remember to drop down to the right and do not trv to follow the ridge. Once on the plateau head across it to the summit block. (If I have my geology lessons correct - the Plateau rock is the old country Rock from before the granite batholith began to push up the Sierra). Once at the summit block climb down about l5 or 20 feet and then around the block to your right. From here head up 3 or 4 feet and then step over a thin rock edge and down 5 or 6 feet to a ledge. We roped up for this area and on up to the summit. Although some people could climb un-roped. At the ledge turn an climb up an upper 3rd class section to the summit. After summit photos and lunch we all returned to the glacier via the same route we ascended. Once on the glacier we headed over for Mt. Mendel. The standard route up the east face as described by R.J. and others works very well until right below the summit. At this point I was very grateful to Scot for bringing the following route description from Henry Arnebold.

Mendal: Up standard route "chute" right below summit. Said mostly class 3. but when you get to part that looks like class 3, go right around and out of sight of the chute to a type of saddle. This gets you on ridge. Then you have to drop down a bit to get back on route. When you come to a 15' "wall" that would call for a ropec crouch down and look to left for a keyhole that goes through and leads to summit.

Thanks Henry! This last bit of route description for Mendal helped us all to complete a very successful day peak bagging.

Sunday we headed back to the cars with a few of our number stopping to climb Lamarck Col on the way home. Thank to everyone for joining me on this CMC trip.


SPS Archives Index | Sierra Peaks Section