The southwest face of Mt Mendel is approached from the south end of Evolution Lake. To get to Evolution Lake, a number of possibilities exist. The easiest and fastest approach is over the excellent use trail over Lamarck Col from North Lake. Longer but maintained trails from either Piute Pass (also North Lake) or Bishop Pass (South Lake) also provide access although the Bishop Pass route requires travel over Muir Pass as well. Finally, a difficult cross-country route over Echo Col is shorter than Bishop Pass but isn’t recommended as a faster alternative.
Near the south end of Evolution Lake, leave the John Muir Trail and head northeast up a steep depression between a granite ridge (left) and the ridge that encloses the Mt Spencer – Mt Darwin cirque. This depression is composed of granite slabs, brush, and greenery and is easy to find. Alternatively, you can also climb the granite arête described by Secor. Near the top of the depression, the southwest face opens and four talus fans can be observed. Only three have chutes above them, ignore the farthest right. I believe that the chute on the far left maybe the chute described by Secor but his description is confusing and contradictory. A chute to the NW lies above the granite structure described by Secor and is the route provided here.
The left line line shows approximately the route up the SW face
Follow this chute, taking the left branch each time it splits (3X) until you deadend at a large granite bowl that opens up on your left. Looking right, you can either climb a steep crack that leads to the primary ridge or an easier class 3 ledge / ramp on the right. This leads to a notch into the next chute over on your right (possibly Secor’s chute) and was marked by a large cairn in 2007 (evidence that others have been confused by Secor). Follow this new chute to Mendel’s south ridge (you're greeted by the monolith shown at the top of the page)and follow this fun, class 3 ridge to the summit.
Entrance into the SW chute
Early in the season, ice ax and crampons may be needed for the route and the approach.
Looking back down to Evolution Lake
External LinksDay 8 of JMT Adventure