Mt. Wallace is one of the Evolution Peaks found on the Sierra crest, near the southern end of the the curved, eight-mile long ridgeline that has been dubbed the Evolution Traverse by Peter Croft and others. Resting along the ridge between higher Mts. Haeckel
and Fiske, at class 2 Mt. Wallace is one of the easier peaks in the region to climb. The peak is covered with much loose boulders, talus, and sand, and most routes on the peak are class 2, with the final summit block rating a class 3. It is often climbed in conjunction with nearby Mt. Haeckel which offers better climbing for the most part. Both Wallace and Haeckel are SPS
peaks, which accounts for a good deal of their popularity judging by the register entries.
Approached via the Sierra crest, the route is class 2 from Wallace Col to the south, or class 3 from Mt. Haeckel. Coming from the east, the North Slope and Southeast Slope are class 2. The former is the preferred ascent route and consists of much boulder hopping. The latter is a steep and horribly loose slope - caution is advised if climbing in a party. The East Face is rated class 3-4. From the west, the Southwest Chute is rated class 2 - another steep, loose route.
The summit block is an airy perch
that can hold at most three or four close friends. It is a slightly exposed class 3 mantle from the west side.
The quickest way to reach Wallace is from the TH at Lake Sabrina. Take SR168 east from Bishop to it's terminus, about 23miles. Limited day use parking (for about three cars) can be found right at the TH, just before the road goes across the dam. A few more spots are just ahead on the opposite side of the road. Overnight parking is found 1/2 mile back at the junction with the road turning off to North Lake. Bummer.
If approaching from the west, leave the JMT in the vicinity of Sapphire Lake, heading east into the large cirque west of Mts. Haeckel and Wallace.
Red Tape & Mountain Conditions
Overnight permits are required and quotas for the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek are in effect from May 15 to September 15. The area surrounding the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek (which feeds Lake Sabrina) is less popular than the nearby trailheads at South Lake and North Lake, so permits are not usually a problem. Your best bet is to contact the Inyo Ranger station and check on permit availability. Wood fires are not allowed above 10,000ft.
Those approaching from the west will be travelling through and camping in SeKi National Park, also requiring permits.
Everything you need to know about conditions, permits and regulations can be found on the Eastern Sierra - Logisitcal Center
When To Climb
May to October are the usual climbing months. Early in the year there is much snow (and considerably more gear to carry), but this may be an advantage to avoiding the endless talus and boulders in the drainage north and east of the peak.
Camping is allowed in most places of the SEKI and John Muir Wildernesses that surround Mt. Wallace, with proper permits. On the east side of the crest, excellent sites are found at Hungry Packer and Moonlight Lakes. Echo Lake is even closer to the peak, but has limited camping opportunties as the lake is mostly surrounded by rock. On the west side, there are many camping options along the John Muir Trail some 2 miles away. Better camping locations (with actual trees) can be found at Evolution Lake, closer but more desolate camping at Sapphire Lake.
"Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), British naturalist, who developed the theory of evolution contemporaneously with Darwin
. The mountain is one of the so-called 'Evolution Group,' named by Theodore S. Solomons
in 1895. (Appalachia
8, no. 1, 1896: 48-50.) On the first two editions of the Mt. Goddard
30' map (1912 and 1918) the name was mistakenly placed on the western ridge of Mt. Darwin. It was moved to the correct location in 1923."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
"Co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection and key player in the development of biogeography. A self-taught professional natural history collector who had spent years in South America and Asia, he began work on the species problem in the mid-1850's while in the field, publishing little-noticed papers that argued for the fact of evolution on the basis of geographical distributions. In 1858 he suddenly intuited the selection theory without realizing that Darwin already had done so, and ironically wrote to him for help in getting his ideas published. This resulted in the joint paper read before the Royal Society and published that year. Throughout the rest of his life Wallace graciously gave as much credit as possible to Darwin, and the Darwin circle reciprocated by arranging a government pension and assorted honors for Wallace. Although he was less inclined to neo-Lamarck
ism than Darwin himself, he later argued that the theory did not apply to the evolution of man.
- Lefalophodon (online)