Sunday, March 18, 2012

San Gorgonio, Northside Chute

It had been nearly two years since my last trip to the San Bernardino Mountains, primarily because worthwhile outings there require a full day.  And this was not to be an exception.  A 2:45AM alarm was necessary to start hiking from the South Fork trailhead before 6:00.  By 8:30, we were replacing shoes with boots at Dry Lake.

The snow was mostly firm until we reached the open moraine above Dry Lake.  From that point on it was variable with an abundance of sudden postholes through seemingly firm crust.  The conditions improved as we ascended the chute.  The snow petered out a few hundred vertical feet below the crest, providing an hour of classic scree climbing (reminiscent of the slog to Mt. Russell's East Ridge).  A little after noon, we were relieved to step onto the 11,490 foot summit of San Gorgonio. 

The joy of glissading down the north side was short-lived, as we immediately found ourselves mired in unconsolidated mush.  After a solid hour (or two?) of regular, albeit unpredictable, postholes, we stumbled back to Dry Lake.  By 5:30, we were on the road, ingesting caffeine and pretzels.  Miraculously, I was back in south Orange County at 7:15PM (much better than the three hours it once took me to drive home from there).   

The numbers: 4600+ vertical feet; 11+ hours round trip.

 Patrick at Dry Lake.

 Stepping into the uncooperative snow above Dry Lake (Jepson Peak on the left).

 Approaching the chute. 

 Following a glissade run up the chute. 

Mt. San Jacinto from near the summit. 

 Patrick taking time to savor a posthole. We ascended the chute second from left and glissaded the far left chute. 

 The calm before the storm (Jepson Peak).

One last look back at Mt. San Gorgonio.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pinos Peak via Bell Ridge

Yesterday (March 1), Patrick Moran and I took a surprisingly great hike up and down Bell Ridge to Los Pinos Peak (4,510 feet) in the Santa Ana Mountains.  Though the net elevation gain is ~3000 vertical feet, all of the ups and downs on the serpentine ridge make it 4300+ vertical feet round trip. This trail, which I heard about from a friend, is not marked on any map or guidebook I've seen, though it is discussed in some mountain biking blogs. 

The numbers: ~13 miles, ~4300 vertical feet, 5.5 hours.

 A misty dawn.

Patrick exuding some serious aura.

The snow and mist made for a refreshing hike. 

 Patrick on the summit, which we reached at 9:15.

Santiago Peak, um, peaking above the clouds. 

 Heading down.

Looking back up the ridge.