Jul 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm #1276241
I posted this 20 minutes ago, and the BPL server seems to have slept through it. Let me see if I can remember my text.
Many backpackers enter Kings Canyon from the East Side, and the Bishop Pass trail is one common entry point. Some climbers choose a point a few miles west and northwest of there, Echo Col. Starting from the East Side, typically [edit: Lake Sabrina], you get up to Moonlight Lake and spend the night. Then get up early and pass Echo Lake while the permanent snowfield is still firm. From below Echo Lake, you can't really identify where Echo Col is, but I have it marked on a map. You may need to get off the snowfield to the right side and scramble a bit.
One you get through the notch to the West Side, it gets a bit more challenging, Class 3, I believe. A single backpacker could make it, but it is easier with two people so that you can hand down your backpacks. I would not do this with a heavy backpack. You can go directly down to the John Muir Trail or you can contour to hit the JMT closer to Muir Pass. It depends on which direction you are headed.
I went through there west to east about 25 years ago, and then east to west about 12 years ago.
Edit: I photographed Echo Col from the west side just a few days ago:
As you stare at this rocky crest, you still wonder where Echo Col is, exactly. In the photo, I believe it is on the right, about 20% in from the right edge. The rubble below the col is smoother since people have walked over it. As I recall, it was much easier to find from the east side.
–B.G.–Jul 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm #1755524
I might add a comment on the degree of difficulty.
I've been through Lamarck Col twice on foot and once on X-C skis. I've been through Echo Col twice on foot, and I would never consider it on X-C skis.
–B.G.–Jul 9, 2011 at 12:53 am #1757417
Incidentally, if anybody had been thinking about hiking west over Bishop Pass to get to the JMT, there's a problem. Apparently all of the stream footbridges between Bishop Pass and LeConte Canyon have been wiped out, so the whitewater stream crossings are thigh-deep right now. That is not my cup of tea, so that makes an excellent case for the alternative, Echo Col. Since it is along the Sierra Nevada crest, there are continuous snow chutes up to it on either side. Later in the season, there will be a big pile of loose rocks on either side.
Edit: August 6. Those stream crossings were OK. I got my boots wet a couple of times, but otherwise they were normal.
–B.G.–Dec 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm #1814768
I realize this post is from last season, I'm a little late joining the party.
Thanks for posting the detailed map and photo.
I'm considering using this as a way to access the second leg of the SHR late next summer (August/Sept). I would rather not retrace my steps back through Bishop Pass/Dusy Basin/LeConte etc.
Most of what I've read about Echo Col is that it is class III with some sketchy route finding. The initial talus slope from Echo Lake doesn't look too bad, but the final climb looks precarious.
How was your experience climbing from the east side?
Also, was the route down to the JMT on the west side easy to negotiate? I realize this may be asking a lot, but any additional photos or comments would be very much appreciated.
Here's one of the photos I found of the final approach from Echo Lake. It looks like the 'chimney' leads to the notch and possibly the top. Ouch.Dec 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm #1814800
@mrmuddyLocale: No Cal
IMHO . I'd say closer to a class 2; i.e. just some patience and you'll be fine..
GREAT route .although there is some work involved..
The navigation aspects are not all that difficult eitherDec 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm #1814802
@mrmuddyLocale: No Cal
I should add . this is based upon my observations 2 years ago. … Mid August.. Snow not an issueDec 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm #1814848
I agree with Scott. The east side is sort of Class 2.5. The west side is more like Class 2.9, if that makes any sense.
–B.G.–Dec 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm #1815135
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"The east side is sort of Class 2.5. The west side is more like Class 2.9, if that makes any sense."
It might, if you explained what is the difference between the various numbers to the right of the decimal point. It is pretty well understood for the YDS used in climbing, but I have never seen it defined for scrambling. Care to try?Dec 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm #1815136
You know what Class 2 is and what Class 3 is. I was trying to indicate that the east side is moderately tougher than an average Class 2, and that the west side is a tiny bit easier than an average Class 3. But it kind of depends on which way you are headed and how early in the year it is (for snow). The routefinding is kind of tricky if it is your first time.
–B.G.–Dec 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm #1815168
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"I was trying to indicate that the east side is moderately tougher than an average Class 2, and that the west side is a tiny bit easier than an average Class 3."
I understand, Bob. I was just seeing if I could get a rise out of you. ;-)
Plus and minus has always worked for me, as in class 2 +, class 3 -. Actually, class 2, class 3, etc, is fine.Dec 22, 2011 at 7:16 pm #1815176
"class 2 +, class 3 -."
I find that the plus sign gets noticed when people read, but the minus sign gets lost in the shuffle of punctuation.
As you know, there can be a very wide range of what some people call Class 3. However, I have never carried a rope when going over Echo Col, and I've never felt any need for one.
On the other hand, descending the west side of Echo Col can be a problem if you are solo and trying to lug a heavy pack. With two people, you can "hand down" the packs at the big steps. If you had a paranoid climber along, a ten-foot loop of rope would help them out a bit.
–B.G.–Dec 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm #1815182
@footeabLocale: Pacific Northwest
Class 2 you fall you skin your knee maybe do a slide of 10 feet and scrap/bruise yourself up unless your last name is Murphy. Most klutz's fit this category and I find most folks quite often call class 2 class 3 as the tale grows. Sometimes it morphs into full blown 5.11b! Ok, back to our earth shattering minuscia definition shaving here. =) Class 3 you fall you break something, but don't die. This is upwards of 10 foot true cliff sections and some will want a rope. 4 you fall you die guaranteed but its not all that steep generally, but everyone will want a rope generally.Dec 22, 2011 at 11:05 pm #1815220
Thanks to all for your comments etc about the route, it is really helpful to us newer guys. With about 20 lbs total pack weight after a resupply this should be fine. It sounds like Echo Col may be similar in difficulty to Frozen Lake Pass and some of the other class 2+ & 3- passes.
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