Alpine Col is accessed from Humphreys Basin (via Paiute Pass) or from Darwin Bench (via Lamarck Col or Evolution Valley).
The Paiute Pass route is the most straightforward: first, take the Paiute Pass trail from the North Lake trailhead to the pass. At the pass, head SE past beautiful Muriel Peak into the Goethe Cirque. This is where the fun talus hopping begins. Although the east shore of Goethe Lake provides a shorter route to Alpine Col, the west shore provides easier cross-country travel. At the end of the lake, keep hopping boulders upward towards Alpine Col, the obvious notch in between the Goethe massif and Mt. Muriel. At the top, enjoy the views of Darwin and Mendel to the south, and peaks as far as Ritter and Banner to the north.
If coming over Lamarck Col, follow the route over the col from North Lake and descend Darwin Canyon. At around the 11,400’ level near Darwin Bench, turn north up the side canyon and ascend the chain of lakes to Lake 11,910’. Alpine Col is the obvious notch northwest of the lake.
If hiking up Evolution Valley, follow the John Muir Trail up towards Evolution Basin, but diverge NE up to Darwin Bench at around the 10,600’ level. Don’t hike into Darwin Canyon. Instead, head north up the side canyon and ascend the chain of lakes to Lake 11,910’. Alpine Col is the obvious notch northwest of the lake.
From Alpine Col, follow the ridge up towards the 13,000’+ subpeak that lies northeast of Mount Goethe. From there, continue along the ridge, dropping down to the south side where necessary to avoid the tricky spots. There are some pinnacles en route that can be skirted on the left. Descend the way you came, or via the easier SE slopes.
Crampons/Ice Axe may be handy if going in the early season to negotiate Alpine Col.
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