Left Mendel Couloir/ Ice Nine

Left Mendel Couloir/ Ice Nine

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.17500°N / 118.68°W
Additional Information Route Type: Ice Climbing, Mixed
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI 5+
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.7 (YDS)
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


"Ice-Nine had always been one of those routes shrouded by an aura of mystery. Was it a separate climb? We found that it was not. Due to the ephemeral nature of ice, a climb like Ice-nine is never out of shape; it just slides along and ever thinning scale until it becomes a rock climb."
Dave Nettle from Sierra Classics


North Lake Trail Head to Lamarck Col cross country trail. See the R. J. Secor guide for a detailed description. Do pay attention to Secor's warning about screwing up on the trail on the descent. It is not pretty digging your way out of the far downhill right.

Rule of thumb timing for a party of two moving well with full gear and bivy set up:
Trail head to bivy spot 2/3rds of the way down the back side of Lamarck Col: 4 hours
Bivy to Schund: 1.5 hours
Route: Unroped: 2.5 hours, roped: a lot longer but unknown
Descent to bivy: 1.5 hours
bivy to trailhead: Seemingly forever

Route Description

From the lake at the base of the north side, head up snow slopes to the bergshrund. Left side of bergshrund works fine since you are heading left. Above the shrund the neve transitions to hard ice as the chute narrows. Crux is a pitch or so into the chute proper. There is a fixed pin on the left side low at the crux and what appears to be a fixed cam a little higher. This section was completely devoid of ice when we climbed in mid August after two big snow years in a row. Go figure. Mid fifth rock to the left gets you around this section if necessary. Slopey moves and holds make rock shoes a very desired item. A pitch above the crux, moderately angled ice reforms but again, was gone in the final chimney when we were there. Rock to the left once again. Rock route tops out on the summit. Ice if it is there, tops out 100 yards away, +/-.

Essential Gear

Ice tools
Enough screws for full pitches of ice
Alpine rock rack
Rock shoes
Approach shoes (Lamark Col trail in moutaineering boots would suck)


From the summit register drop down to the top of the NE ridge to class 3 descent by moving over to the east face. (Thanks Dug). This route can be seen by looking from the summit down the east face. It looks somewhat unlikely (particularly the first section down around the summit) and loose and shitty. It is unlikely, loose and shitty.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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travelin_light - Jul 12, 2007 3:49 pm - Hasn't voted


Hey thanks for the update. Been wondering about that.


Darren9 - Aug 22, 2017 11:42 am - Hasn't voted

Conditions - gone

After monitoring this climb and waiting many years for the ice to form I finally made the trek, anticipating it to be in great shape at the end of summer following an epic winter. To my disappointment, both Mendel right and Ice Nine are completely melted out - bone dry top to bottom. This was after one of the biggest winters in a decade or so, with snow still persisting in places it hasn't been in many years. But not in these routes, unfortunately. So the modern report is this - the only way these couloirs can be climbed nowadays is either in early season, on snow, or only after many heavy winters in an row - a situation that is not likely to occur again.

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