Locating The "Notch"
This is the standard descent route from Mount Darwin when climbing routes like the North Face or NE Ridge but can also be used as fun alpine ascent scramble as well to access Darwin's summit. Approach the West Ridge via the Darwin Glacier. The best way to get to the glacier first is to drop down from Lamarck Col, into Darwin Canyon and back up the other side of the canyon, ascending next to a drainage over slabs and up to the Darwin Glacier. Once at the glacier, head up the right side of the glacier, with Mount Mendel's East Face directly to the right. One of the cruxes to this route is locating the correct notch in the West Ridge "skyline". To eliminate one possiblity, the large and long notch closer to Mendel IS NOT the notch to access the top of the ridge. Rather, the next notch to the left is the correct notch to climb to. Once at the top of the right side of the glacier (keeping the correct notch as a reference), climb a series of ledges and slabs, which "zig-zag" upward, with the occasional duck referencing the way. Route finding is a little tricky but with a careful eye, one can make progress well enough without resorting to climbing any terrain above Class 3. The last set of ledges will lead up and left to the notch referenced. Climb to the notch and turn left (southeast). This is the start of the ridgeline. As a side note, there are a few loose section along the lower slab sections and up higher before entering the notch.
The West Ridge (Proper)
Once on the ridge, scramble toward Darwin's plateau, staying to the right side of the ridge most of the way. Occasionally, ducks will appear as the route starts to feel a bit "lean" on where to go. The route pretty much stays near the top and on the right side. Continue until the plateau is reached. The summit block is on the far end of the plateau. Climb the summit block around it's right and around to the back side via a wildly exposed 3rd class traverse. Upon reaching the east side of the block, scramble up to the top.
- Crampons and ice axe (if needed on the glacier)