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.

1 comment:

sara said...

Amazing photos! I love so much the winter and the white puffy snow! I wish I was there :)

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