Mini Trip Report for San Gorgonio Summit Attempt April 7, 2010
Our group consisted of six all together, four skiers; Bob, Joe, Phil, myself and two booters; Ty and Terry. We all had ice axes, crampons and our usual arsenal of essential gear. Our starting point was the South Fork Trailhead by Jenks Lake. Phil and I started up the trail right at 6:00 am. The rest of our group wasn't far behind.
At the trailhead, with skis on, full camelbacks, nalgenes and lunches, our packs were over 50 pounds. It was Joe's first time on backcountry gear, well, he had A/T skis and skins but his special order size 32.5 Scarpa boots didn’t arrive yet so he took standard downhill/resort boots. His “walk-mode” was improvised by leaving the buckles un-done. The lower section started out with only patches of snow and got progressively more covered. We were able to wear our trail runners for about the first 3 miles which was about 75% covered with snow. We passed through a massive avalanche debris path. The area we could see was over a half mile in length. Another hiker later told us the total length was 3.5 miles long. A lot of trees were sheared off and the trunks of what trees remained were pruned clean of all their needles. The area we crossed smelled like a Christmas tree lot from all of the mulched up fir trees. From just past the avalanche field we stopped and switched to skins, getting about 15 pounds of gear off of our backs. Ty and Terry passed us while we were changing boots and putting skins on. Phil and I caught up with them at the upper end of the meadow in the area between fork of the Dry Lake and Dollar Lake trails. Bob & Joe’s route followed along the creek, to Dry Lake and then up to near Mine Shaft Saddle. Phil,Ty, Terry and I stayed a little west of Dry Lake and went about half way up the chute between Jepson and Gorgonio.
At 1:15 in the afternoon Ty, Terry, Phil and I huddled to consider our options. We acknowledged that it was still early enough and that we had the energy left to make it up the chute to Dry Lake View and then walk the easy mile to the summit of San G. Thinking it through, we realized that if we kept going up, we could descend the chute before dark but we would be hiking the rest of the way out with our headlamps on and our asses kicked. Looking down, we were lured by terrain offering good skiing and glissading. So, we decided that Gorgonio will be covered with snow some day again in the future and now we know a lot more about how to get there. We agreed to begin our descent.
WooHoo! There was some excellent spring snow for skiing. At first Phil and I each made few turns, waiting for each other so we could get a few action pictures. Then we skied through a section of natural half-pipe, a really nice steep section off of a ridge and through some trees and then into an open sloping meadow, just right for some high-speed GS turns. What a run! We descended about 2,000 feet and covered 3 miles in about 20 minutes. We intersected the boot-tracked South Fork Trail and checked-in with our friends over the radios. We intercepted Bob & Joe near the fork to the Grinnell Ridge Trail. Ty & Terry caught up with us when we stopped to take our skis off back at the avalanche path.
We all made it back to the South Fork Trailhead between 5:30 and 6:00 pm. Ty’s GPS charted our total distance at 13.5 miles. Another phenomenal day in the mountains.