Bishop, CA - Puite Pass/Evolution Valley/Lamarck Col

7:11 p.m. on June 15, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

I am arriving in Bishop on June 25 and our route is supposed to be North Lake - Puite Pass - Evolution Valley- Darwin Bench - Lamarck Col- Back down to North Lake.

Has anyone been in the area lately?
I am wondering about snow/ice and the condition of the south face of Lamarck col and Darwin Bench?

I have seen a photo of the North side of the Col, but that was not surprise.

I would also appreciate it if anyone has seen the trail down from the North side of the Col as well?

Should I plan something different?

Thanks

TV

8:41 p.m. on June 15, 2005 (EDT)
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This is a really hard year to predict so early in the season. The Sierra got lots of snow, with even a 6-inch fall a few days ago above 7000 ft. But, on the other hand, in the sunny spells it is melting fast. You have some very high passes to go over. My only observation of the backcountry was on a return flight where I could get a fairly good view (albeit distant), plus last night's report from our camp property at Huntington Lake (7200 ft, abt 20 miles straight line from Evolution) and talking to a friend at Donner (7000 ft). Still lots of snow, and rain/snow predicted for this weekend (actually maybe starting tomorrow).

When the snow winter has been like this one in the past, you can usually find deep snow on the passes until mid to late July, maybe even into August. I would go prepared for full-on winter conditions, with ice ax, crampons, and such (and of course experience in using them, as well as belaying on steep snow slopes). It may well be that the warm days will melt the passes clear, but then your stream crossings will be challenging. At our camp property, the water district is holding the lake level down lower than usual in anticipation of heavy runoff over the next 3-4 weeks.

I would suggest calling the Inyo NF offices for their evaluations.

As an aside, your schedule doesn't leave much room for acclimatization. If you go over Piute Pass (11.4kft) with a single night at North Lake (9.2kft), and camp at, say, Summit Lake at 11.2kft, if anyone in your group develops AMS or worse, you have to climb back up and over to get to lower altitude (the only real remedy for AMS and other altitude-related illnesses). Your described route never gets back down to 8000 ft until you cross Lamarck Col (12,883), get to North Lake, and drive out. Maybe you and your whole party adjust well and rapidly to altitude (as I do), but, aside from the snow question, I would give serious consideration to whether any of your party has ever had altitude problems. Every year, people get hauled out of that area with serious AMS or worse. At the least, consider spending a couple nights at North Lake before setting out on the trail. Maybe Jim S will comment here - he tends not to adjust very well to such altitudes.

11:09 p.m. on June 15, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

We have done this route and we tend not to have much alittude problem. Of course now that I say that, it will hit all of us.

We are planning on snowshoes, but having no ice axe experience I am not planning on carrying one.

Thanks for the info.

TV

12:03 p.m. on June 16, 2005 (EDT)
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Sierra weather

The prediction for the current storm is snow accumulations above 8500 feet. If there is no more before your trip starting the 25th, it should have time to consolidate. But be aware of wet avalanches as the weather warms.

You mention taking snowshoes, but not taking ice axes. The purpose of the ice ax is not so much for climbing in a hiking trip such as you plan, rather, use as a self-arrest tool, in case someone slips. In other words, a safety measure.

1:19 p.m. on June 16, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sierra weather

This website (link below) has a detailed account of what seems to be the very trip you describe by someone who did it in the Summer of 2003 (no exact date). There are a bunch of very good pictures as well of the scenery.

http://www.virtualparks.org/trips/lamarckcol/
Virtual Parks is the site itself.

The writer mentions that the snowfield was iced over and that the ranger who issued their permit had recommended ice axes or trekking poles. Judging from the pictures, not a place you'd want to fall, lots of big rocks at the bottom of the col.

1:40 p.m. on June 16, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sierra weather

I checked out the Virtual Parks website after posting my previous post. Definitely check it out. This guy is a photographer who takes panorama pictures which he sells as prints and some are posted on the site using QuickTime. Using some computer magic with the QT, you can use your mouse to do a full 360 degree of the shot he took-the viewpoint changes as you move the mouse. Pretty cool. Here's the one from Lamarck Col
http://www.virtualparks.org/scenes/Z_CnlNJhNtxAgqQRO2VPSmw.html

12:04 p.m. on June 17, 2005 (EDT)
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Sierra weather today

Chains are currently required on Hwy 88 (over Carson Pass at 8500 ft) and on Hwy 4 between Bear Valley village (abt 7000 ft) and Bear Valley ski area (abt 8000 ft).

Unless we get some really sunny weather next week, you better plan on those snowshoes and at least trekking poles, plus winter camping gear.

I am running a land navigation course next weekend for the Sierra Club's Clair Tappaan lodge at 7000 ft (everything from basic map and compass to GPS receivers). Looks like I may have to require the students to be on snowshoes or skis!

11:45 a.m. on August 14, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

Hi.
I just read your advice about evolution valley and was wondering if you have any weather/conditions info about hiking there in august i.e. next weekend. any would be appreciated.
cheers, ron

October 31, 2014
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