Hiked up the Meysan Lake trail Saturday and camped in the Grass Lake area. Made an attempt of Irvine from the northeast ridge yesterday, but one of the guys in our party was not too comfortable on class 3 terrain so we got up to the first big pinnacle on the ridge at 13,000 feet and called that our summit. Almost summer-like conditions out there. A few patches of snow between 9,000 and 10,000 feet that don't cause any problems, and the wooded section between 10,000 and 11,000 feet had a couple of large snow fields that covered the switchbacks so one can just boot step straight up those sections. The top of the scree slope just below Grass Lakes had a large snow field, but it was easily traversed by boot stepping. No snow to deal with in going up from the lakes through the ledge system up to the saddle just below the northeast ridge of Irvine. There were a few patches of snow on the ridge that required us to do more exposed class 3 climbing, but that added a little bit of nice spice and getting over to the summit looked like it would have been fine without snow gear. The class 3 stuff wasn't in the cards for our buddy though, so had the snow not been there it would have been nothing more than tedious class 2. Still an awesome outing though. Saw three trail runners and three dudes who had made a day-climb attempt on Mallory on the trail Saturday, and we had the entire wilderness to ourselves yesterday. Typical for what I like to call the "neglected red-headed step-sister" of the Whitney main trail. Here are some pics:

1) Grass Lakes

2) Traverse to ledge system above Camp Lake

3) View of Whitney Zone from saddle at base of NE ridge

4) Getting up the NE ridge

5) View from NE ridge

6) View east from pinnacle on NE ridge

7) View of the rest of the NE ridge (Irvine summit on far back left)

8) Our "summit shot" from the pinnacle

9) View of Lone Pine Peak from NE ridge

10) Back down to just above Camp Lake with view of east side of Irvine