A high lift low pressure turbine (LPT) profile designated L2A is used as a test bed for studying the origin of endwall mixing loss and the role of vortical structures in loss development. It is shown analytically and experimentally that the mixing forces within the endwall wake can be decoupled into either mean flow or turbulent forces and can be further classified as either reversible or irreversible. Among the irreversible forces, mean flow shear is negligible compared to turbulent shear, suggesting that turbulence dissipation is the dominant cause of loss generation. As a result, the mean flow components of the vortical structures do not generate significant mixing losses. Rather than mixing effects, the mean flow of the vortices causes the suction surface boundary layer to separate inside the passage, thereby generating the large low energy regions typical of endwall flows. Losses are generated as the low energy regions mix out. This vortex separation effect is demonstrated with an experiment using a profile fence and pressure surface modification near the endwall. The findings in this paper suggest that profile modifications near the endwall that suppress flow separation may provide loss reductions additive to modifications aimed at weakening vortical structures, such as endwall contouring.