From Silver Lake trailhead on Highway 158 near the resort town of June Lake, take Rush Creek Trail to go up past Agnew, Gem, Waugh Lakes. When the Rush Creek Trail joins Pacific Crest Trail, veer right. After a mile take the left side turn off for Marie Lakes. The trail descends to a series of beautiful ponds along Rush Creek, then climbs the south side of the valley. Before the trail climbs seriously, there is a four-way intersection marked by ducks where you must go straight (turning left looks most obvious). Follow trail to Lower Marie Lake (10850' / 3309 m).
The Rush Creek Trail is a frustrating trail because it is primarily designed for stock use. It makes frequent 50-200 feet ups and downs along most of the route, especially between the east side of Gem Lake and the junction with Pacific Crest Trail. One way trail distance to Lower Marie Lake is 11 miles.
Secor's book calls this route the "East Arrete from Marie Lakes" and rates it class 4.
Follow the east shore of Lower Marie Lake (10850') go south, then turn west past the end of the lake. On the west of the lake the slopes lead to Middle and Upper Marie Lakes: the one to Middle Lake is further north, lower, and has a water fall. Ascend the 1000-foot slope lined with sloping slabs and huge talus toward Upper Marie Lake (11745').
Upper Marie Lake is immediately north of Rodgers Peak. Cross the outlet of this lake, ascend talus on the right side of the peaklet (12540') west of the lake. There is a glacier on the lower right side of this peaklet. Pass the glacier through 3rd class rock above it, then proceed to flatter terrain above. Ascend a gravelly, low angle morraine which leads all the way to Lyell-Rodgers Ridge at 12480'.
Follow ridge northward toward Lyell. The ridge is mostly an exposed knife edge, sometimes 2 foot wide. The north end of the ridge joins Lyell's east ridge at a peaklet (12900'). Between this peaklet and Lyell's summit is a col (12790'). Traverse to this col over moderate angle talus from near the end of Lyell-Rodgers Ridge. At the col there is a sublime view of Lyell Glacier to the north.
From the col turn left to follow the east ridge of Lyell. About 200 feet below the summit the ridge consists of a series of smooth vertical gendarmes. Down climb each gendarme then climb up the next one (class 4-5) until reaching the summit. Alternatively, for easier climbing one can drop down on the right (north) and traverse to the foot of East Arrete, which leads to the summit through class 3 rock.
No glacier traverse so essentially no equipment is required. Ice axe and crampons may be useful in early season. Rope/pro may be used for safety on the exposed ridges.
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