Sunday, February 9, 2014

Leatherneck Ridge on Mt. San Jacinto (round 2)

Taking advantage of the unseasonably dry conditions, Patrick Moran and I ascended the Leatherneck Ridge route on February 8, 2014. Starting from the lower parking lot for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the route ascends "Hawk Ridge" to Leatherneck Ridge proper and then follows the undulating upper part of Leatherneck Ridge to the crest. From there, it's an easy walk to the upper tram station. With all the ups and downs on the ridge, it works out to roughly 7,000 feet of elevation gain. The whole thing took us about ten hours.   

Although a faint use trail now covers much of the route, it is still a wild and solitary backcountry experience. Any mishaps high on the ridge, which involves some class 2-3 scrambling, could lead to a long night out. 

For more detailed information on Leatherneck Ridge, see my first trip report on the route. 

The ramparts between the lower and upper tram stations 

Patrick ascending Hawk Ridge below Leatherneck Ridge proper 

Leatherneck Ridge proper. The route leads to the line of trees up there and then much, much further. 

Taking a break in the cool breezes amid the conifers. The sunlight and breezes were having a nice Van Gogh effect on the grass.

Heading up through the conifers

Patrick leading the way 

 The spectacular Northeast Face of Miller Peak

Patrick about to begin the ups and downs. This is where things get challenging. 

At this point, I was beginning to feel a little worn out and started hallucinating. I even thought I saw a fire-breathing dragon.

Looking back down the undulating ridge 

Looking down toward the isthmus between Snow Creek and Falls Creek

Patrick was fired up to be done ascending the ridge. From the aptly named "Shangri La", it's an easy stroll to the upper tram station.

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