After going to Yosemite valley and pretending to climb in 100 degree weather my buddy Tony Symanovich and I decided to go back and climb this beast. We had some confidence under our belts since we had done the Minaret Traverse earlier in the summer. We were psyched.
We hiked over Lamarck Col into Darwin Canyon and set up camp at the start of the traverse. At 1:00 the next morning we headed out.
We gained the ridge easily and tagged the first unnamed peak at 4 am. From there we headed over to Mt. Mendell along the way encountering some real climbing and some rappells. From Mendell we headed over to the monarch of the region; Darwin.
Enroute there were a couple fun steep 5.7 or 8ish cracks along with some rappells. The 5.6 summit block of Darwin is really fun and cool too. From there we were in the business of the traverse.
We quickly encountered a rappell. I kicked some huge blocks of and fortunately didn't sheer our 8 mil rope. A 5.7 pitch brought us back to the ridge were we tediously worked our way down. At one point the ridge cut off and we couldn't find a way to keep going or a rappel anchor, so we simul rappelled off opposite sides of the knife edge and swung over to a ledge. Some more tedious climbing got us out of the crux sector and atop an unnamed peak with a summit register that doesn't get signed very often.
From there we descended a bit to get some water and headed up to Haeckel col very tired. We decided to bivy there, which was miserable since we didn't have sleeping bags.
After a cold night with hardly any sleep we climbed Haeckel and from there the ridge eased off for a while. Wallace was a tallus heap- which I wasn't complaining about since I was a bit frazzled from all the climbing the day before.
Clouds were building and we didn't want to quite so we rallyed over Fiske, and then Warlow. There was some fun climbing along the way and at one point this refrigerator size block I was standing on disloged and tumbled thousands of feet to the glacier below which was quite spectacular to watch.
A bit more climbing later we hit the summit of Huxley just as it started storming. We descended easily into Evolution Basin and then hit the JMT and walked very quickly through the rain and hail toward our camp. A couple hours later we arrived sopping wet and very cold and it was still pouring. Our cave had a river running through it, and our sleeping bags were a bit wet. We franticly looked around for another cave, which Tony found, and we crawled into the warmth of our damp sleeping bags. We cracked the beers we hiked in and ate a bunch of candy. Success.
- Ian Cotter-Brown