Corcoran to Irvine Traverse

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 36.54160°N / 118.2509°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 29, 2003
My adventure began on Thursday morning August 28th, when I left San Diego at 7am. I reached the Ranger Station in Lone Pine at approximately 11:30am. The weather in the valley was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky or on the horizon. Of course there were plenty of overnight permits left for the Meysan Lakes trailhead. I drove up to Whitney Portal, ate lunch, and dropped off my food at the Whitney Portal bear boxes. If they find your car with any food in it, the Rangers will have it towed, and the only overnight hiker bear boxes are at the Whitney Trailhead. Then after a short drive down to the Meysan Trailhead I parked the car on the side of the road next to the Whitney Portal campground. After a short hike through the campground and up a back road I began the hike up the Meysan Lakes trail around 12:30pm. The trail is moderately steep and has some slippery sections. At the last lake before upper Meysan I recommend hiking strait through the meadow and up the riverbed that leads strait to Meysan rather than the long winding trail that leads right and takes an extra 15min to reach the lake. After a nice leisurely hike up the trail I reached the upper Meysan Lake just after 3pm. I made camp in a nice wind block on the East shore of the lake. There is a 20ft cliff just above this site that is a very good spot to hang your food from. After taking a walk around the lake to scout out the approaches to the plateaus, I laid down for a 30min nap to regain some strength. Around 5:30pm I started up the stove to cook up some dinner. I watched the shadows creep across the valley as I ate, marveling that the nearest sign of life was all the way in Lone Pine. I hit the sack around 8:30pm for a nice long rest. As always I awoke around 11:00pm to check out the stars. It was a perfectly clear night, not a cloud in the sky, and the entire Milky Way was glowing in the sky. I awoke at 5:45am just as light began to appear over the White Mountains in the East. After a quick breakfast of Oatmeal, I finished packing up my daypack and headed off for the chute from which part of the Meysan inlet flowed, 6:45am. The climb up to the Class 2-3 rocks in the chute was a mix of gravel and loose rock. Once I reached the series of rock ledges the terrain became much more solid and was easy climbing up to where the chute opened up onto the LeConte/Mallory plateau. From the top of the chute I took a Southwestern heading toward the base of the LeConte cliffs. After a short scramble up to the base of the cliffs I dropped about 100ft down the West Side of Mt LeConte to where the Northwest chute opens up. After a short climb up the chute I encountered the waterfall pitch, which is a fun little climb(the left side is the easiest). From there it is a very short scramble to the summit of Mount LeConte. I reached the summit, my first of the day, around 8:50am. After a short snack break I took off back down the chute for the traverse over to Mount Corcoran. About 50ft above the waterfall pitch I left LeConte’s Northwest chute and traversed South along a ledge across 2 small ribs into another large chute. In this chute a 150ft slide down some loose gravel brought me to another ledge that traverses across several ribs slowly dropping down until I reached a large open chute that branches out several times near the top. This is the chute that leads to Corcoran’s North Notch. It is an easy scramble up this chute, just remember to stay to the right as it branches. As I neared the top the chockstone appeared in front of me, a several ton boulder lodged 12ft above the ground marks the exit at the North Notch. Then after a short traverse south, I navigated some tricky Class 3 boulders to the traverse south to the Southwest side of Mount Corcoran. After the short traverse I scrambled up the wide chute that leads up the Southwest side of Mount Corcoran to the summit. I reached summit number two around 10:05am. After another short break to take pictures and sign the logbook I headed back down for the traverse back to LeConte. Luckily I left many ducks along the route so heading back was a little bit easier. I reached the base of the LeConte cliffs at 11:30am and decided this would be a good time to stop for lunch. After a short lunch of energy food I headed off on the long gravel/boulder slog to Mount Mallory. The climb up Mount Mallory was very uneventful, but very tiring. I reached summit number three at 12:25pm, took a few pictures, ate some more food, and signed the summit book. I opted for the quick direct route to Mount Irvine, the descent down Mallory’s North ridge. After a short down climb on the right(East) side of the ridge the plateau forced me left and down onto the West Side of the North ridge. The rest of the route down follows some fun Class 3 rock just west of the spine of the North ridge. As I neared the bottom I encountered the infamous chimney on the North ridge that is formed by a 15ft leaning slab. At the base of the North ridge is a small pillar of rock, after traversing around this I decided to drop down a Class two gravel slope to the South slope of Irvine. Here fatigue began to set in, as I pushed my muscles up the slippery slope to the summit. Mount McAdie, which was planned as a bonus mountain, was definitely going to be out of the question. I finally reached the summit of Mount Irvine at 1:35pm. I took several more pictures, signed the summit log and headed back down. The way down flew by, since I was able to almost gallop down the sandy/gravely slope. It only took 15min to reach the top of the East Chute, which leads down the North side of Mount Mallory’s East Ridge. This was the quickest way down, but by no means the most fun. The chute was a nasty mix of loose rock and gravel, and it was very steep. Several times I had small boulders roll over my ankle/foot. I do not recommend this route, because climbing this chute would be very tedious and just may zap your energy. At 2:45pm I reached the edge of Meysan Lake; exhausted, hungry, and ready for a long rest. I laid down in the shade of a large boulder on the South shore for an hour, content to not move for a while. After a second rest in camp I packed up camp around 5:00pm, just as the sun set behind Mount Irvine. I ate a quick dinner, and decided to move halfway down the trail in order to be out early the next morning, but also not wanting to return to civilization quite yet. The original plan was to attempt Mount Russell and Mount Carillon the next day if my body would permit me to do so. I reached a large bench that overlooked Little Meysan Lake around 6:20pm and decided that would be a perfect place to camp. I set up my gear and sat down to a nice view of the Owens Valley below. I fell asleep around 9:00pm as darkness set in. Another early start found me awake at 5:45am again, but this time off on the trail at 6:00am. After a short amount of hiking I realized that my body was not going to allow me to climb Russell on this trip. So after a quick hike out I decided to end this trip with one of the famous Whitney Portal pancakes(about 10” in diameter).


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Seahorse - Jun 13, 2006 11:19 pm - Hasn't voted


4 peaks in a day and solo! Sounds like an awsome trip.


3Deserts - Jun 16, 2010 1:05 am - Hasn't voted

Bear lockers

Great report. It was useful for us this past weekend.

A note about bear lockers: there are dedicated lockers for Meysan Lake Trail hikers. If you park on the south side of the road, as directed by the Meysan Lake Parking sign, above the reserved car camp site, walk down the ramp closed by a 'Fire Exit' gate, and near the bottom, on the right are two sets of lockers for Meysan Lake Trail hikers only.

Viewing: 1-2 of 2



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