Trad, Alpine, 12000 ft, 5 pitches, Grade VI,
Avg: 4 from 23
FA: Peter Croft
> High Sierra
> 08 - Bishop Pas…
> Mt Darwin
This route is considered the best of all the traverses in the Sierra. Whether or not that is true: It is a great, long, and sometimes intimidating outing.
The rock is mostly excellent, with a couple loose spots in between, better than on the Palisades Thunderbolt to Sill part.
Getting down from Darwin is the most dangerous and difficult part of the climb, with either a manky rappel or a 5.9 downclimb. (edit: People in the comments say there is a 5.6 way, we rapped)
The number of pitches you belay greatly depends on how comfortable you are soloing 5th class. Simulclimbing is not a good idea.
The Mendel headwall is 5.6, a very nice crack is the crux. The most challenging section from both a technical and route finding point of view is the traverse between Darwin and 13,332. There's an obvious manky 5.6-5.9 down climb right below the summit block, which you can avoid with a short rappel. From here depending on which way you go you will encounter down climbing/traversing up to 5.9. There are a number of ways to go up Huxley, but most people have encountered climbing up to 5.7 or 5.8.
Water is a problem, unless you go early in the season, which is recommended if the snow year was not big. The closest water source is a lake a few hundred feet below Haeckel.
Good bivy spots are not abundant. The top of Darwin is excellent, and around Haeckel there are a few. After the descent from Darwin you can drop down the ridge a little, and find reasonable spots.
Walk to Darwin Bench over Lamarck Col. From there start the traverse at the toe of the buttress.
For more detailed information refer to the Croft Guidebook, the Good, the Great and the Awesome.
If you plan to rap and belay, take 1 60m rope, a set of nuts, 4 or 5 cams from .5-3 inches. It is important to take a lot of slings and some cord for the rappels.
Good approach shoes should do it.
Truly awesome! One of the best traverses in Cali!
golden triangle after Darwin
Labeled panorama of Evolution Traverse, as seen from summit of Huxley after completing the traverse, July 2017.
base camp at Darwin Benches
Darwin Lakes on the approach to basecamp.
and evening light from Darwin Benches base camp
Evolution Basin from lower Darwin Bench
Labeled panorama of Evolution Traverse, as seen from summit of Huxley after completing the traverse, July 2017. (more labels than other version, thanks to Paul Decker who had fun ID'ing them all)
Evolution Basin from Haeckel
another possible source for water in drier years just past Haeckel; it's fairly easy to drop down off the ridge here
13,360 from Darwin Canyon