Haeckel and Wallace

29-30 Jul 2000 - by Rick Booth

On Saturday, July 29, Dee and I headed up towards Echo Lake from Lake Sabrina. The trail essentially goes to Hungry Packer Lake. On the flat open area just below Hungry Packer an unmarked use trail takes off to the left towards the Echo Lake drainage. We guessed this was our turn and headed off in that direction. The use trail peters out pretty quickly so we put our packs down near Sailor Lake (formerly Drunken Sailor Lake) and decided to look around. We ran into Charlie Rankin of the Bay Area Day Hikers who informed us that there was no camping near Echo Lake and that the Haeckel-Wallace environs could be accessed from Sailor Lake by going up the grey bumpy ridge that drops down to Sailor Lake. This ridge separates the Echo Lake drainage from the Hungry Packer Lake drainage.

We decided to camp at Sailor Lake and Dee went up the grey bumpy ridge to check it out and after a couple of hours came back with the info that the ridge would work out. This looks like it saves a tedious chug up from Echo Lake on big tallus. Sunday we started out at 5:30 AM and headed up the ridge. This ends on the tallus above Echo Lake. Climb up and right on the tallus to get into the drainage that comes from Wallace and Haeckel. This passes a nice water outlet below a morraine. Ascend the morraine above the outlet to a "depressed" tarn that is at the base of Haeckel. There is some snow on the morraine which can be skirted on the right side by sidestepping on scree (ugh).

Once on the morraine above the "depressed" tarn there appears to be two possible ascents of Haeckel. The first is to go past the tarn on the right and ascend the south face and then moving left towards the more broken area. The other option is to go up and left to the Wallace-Haeckel Col and cruise the ridge. Lacking Prozac, we decided to avoid the "depressed" tarn and headed for the Col. Near the Col we then angled up and right to get on the ridge line. This is followed from zero to 100 feet below the ridge line all the way across until it starts to angle upwards. The snow from the permanent snowfield did not reach the ridge line anywhere and was easilly avoided. The traverse itself is class 2 with one or two moderate class 3 moves thrown in.

Once the ridge is finished the route angles up in the chute that appears to split Haeckel. Follow this to about 15 feet from the top and look for a narrow chimney on the left. Go up this, step around the back, and go up a few moderate third class moves and there is the summit. One hour to the summit from the Col.

We reateated back down the ridge and headed up towards Wallace. We stayed on the big tallus until the top. This looks like a much better way than the scree slog 100 feet to the left, however, there are a few hard fourth class moves near the top. These can be avoided by shifting further to the left sooner and getting in the scree. The route down goes down the scree and gets back on the morraine. Both peaks 10 hours round trip from Sailor Lake.

The south ridge route on Mt Haeckel is an outstanding moderate third class route. Most of it is second class with some low third class thrown in. In only one or two sections was there loose scree that caused some thought and concern. The summit block area is fun moderate third class. Most of the rock is typical Sierra rock...sorta loose, sorta solid. The views from the summit are outstanding, especially of the dark, enormous mass of Mt Darwin. When looking down from the ridge it appears that the ledges on the south face would work also, however, it looked like there was a lot of sand on them. Mt Wallace is a pile of junk. It can be made a little more interesting by sticking closer to the north ridge. Crampons were not needed on this trip. An ice axe was handy but not required. It appears that the camping at Echo Lake is nonexistent but that the intermediate area below Echo has some trees and flat spots that would work if one should decide to pack in that far.


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