Mt. Lamarck in November

20091104 - A month ago Jason and Chad grabbed at the chance to take a vacation, called up Sierra Mountain Center, and said to Connie, "We have two days off and no experience.  Can we climb something?"  Coincidentally, I'd always wanted to check out Mt. Lamarck, a peak I passed in June while hiking into the Evolution Range.  So when Connie called me, I said, "Sure!!" and met the guys at the office at a reasonable 8:00am, where we split up the group gear and food.

Chad drove us up to North Lake to begin the hike to Lamarck Col, where I planned on us camping.  The hike up the trail went by quickly until Upper Lamarck Lake, where we started to encounter +12" of snow with a punchy, breakable crust.  That snow persisted up the moraine too, forcing us to climb harder, but bare, talus to the left of the buried cross-country trail.

We finally gained the upper basins and started heading for the Col, but the altitude started to slow us down and at 4:30 we were still 200' and 45 minutes to go.  The wind had also picked up significantly and we were all getting cold, so I decided to set up camp right there.

With the tents to block the wind it was much more civilized, and I invited the guys over to my place for dinner.  Afterwards, the wind actually picked up (I heard later that it was gusting to 70mph over the crest).  As I looked around inside my tent at my carefully organized kitchen and clothes, I realized that if the tent failed and blew over - it was a floor-less Megamid - we would get in a lot of trouble.  Also, all the flapping was keeping me awake, so after two hours of waiting for the wind to stop or the tent to shred I reached over to the central pole and dropped the tent on my own head.  I gathered all the extra material and tied it into a big overhand knot, noticed how much less the tent seemed to flap and shudder, and fell asleep.

We woke up at 6:00am and were gone by 7:00 for the summit.  30 minutes of easy walking (now that we weren't carrying yesterday's packs), led us to the tarn under Lamarck Col.  Turns out we didn't need the crampons, and ice axes after all!  We turned right to scramble up the southeast slopes until we reached its highest point.  Just 20' away was the summit!  We found the register, signed in, took some victory photos, and then started to head back down.

Back in camp, we packed everything up, had lunch, and then kept moving.  Back down the upper basins.  Down the moraine, past Upper and Lower Lamarck Lakes, and back to the trailhead.

More photos - and captions - are on my Picasa account. Mt. Lamarck via its Southeast Slopes has become my official favorite 2nd class route.  A list of my favorite climbs is here.

All photos in this trip report are courtesy of Jason and used with permission.

Statistics:  Mt. Lamarck (13,450'), via the SE Slopes, 2nd class, 2 days.  Day one - trail and cross country; 4 miles, +2920'.  Day two - cross country, 2nd class to summit, trail; 6 miles, +1200', - 4100'.