Overview:Holtgrefe Ridge runs up the Northeastern approach to Mount Harwood via Stockton Flat and Lytle Creek. The total elevation gain was approximately 3,472 feet to the Summit elevation of 9,552 feet over a horizontal distance of just under 2 miles. In the thumbnail image above you can clearly see it rising up to the North of the Devil's Backbone Trail.
Because of the upper scree and soft forrested slope at it's base, this route is best climbed in the winter when ice and snow serve to bind the substrate. We climbed this route with Crampons and Ice axes. I recommend wearing a helmet because of loose debris breaking off the steeper sections, especially with multiple climbers.
Getting there:From the Greater Los Angeles area, take the I-15 north of the I-10, exit Sierra and head up Lytle Creek past the Shooting Area and onto the Gravel Road.
Follow the road in the huge gravel wash approximately 4.5 miles to Stockton Flat. Park clear of the road as we saw recreational ATC and Snowmobile drivers in the area. There also is a private service route up the gated Baldy Road to the Baldy Notch.
Route Description:Depending on the level of traction, the climb up the lower earthen slope could be difficult without proper ice or snowpack to grip into.
Expect lots of trees, branches and loose rock submerged in pow.
As the ridge climbs higher you will find a large plateau with striking views of the local terrain. From this point on the path becomes more rocky and steeper with Two Steps guarding the final approach on Mount Harwood.
The second step had a lot of brush and branches obstructing passage.
I circumvented the brush by climbing around the right side and postholing up a steep snowy slope.
The Final Push:
The last 100 meters are the most challenging. At this point I was a bit tired of my Crampons slipping on flat rock hidden just below a few inches of powder and seized upon the opportunity to latch onto any solid or frozen ground. The dropoffs became increasingly dangerous and the higher we went the less chance for a successful self-arrest given the steep pitch of frozen scree.
Beyond this crested Mount Harwood, an easy 100 feet to the actual summit.
We made it just in time for Sunset, longer than anticipated.
The night was here.
Time to set up camp.