As I dozed off, I dreamt about the sumptuous 9 course banquet that was to be served up the next day. The starter was to be a very beefy Grayback medallion served with a light Vivian sauce that dribbles obliquely down one side. To cleanse the palate the second course was the rarely served Jepson Ice. What was to be the 3rd course? Ah yes, ….. a powerbar….. what the beep ….. beep … beep; as I woke up to the sound of the alarm clock.
Back to reality, get up at 2am, then drove up to Upland to collect David at 3am, then over to Mill Creek ranger station for the permits, up to Angelus Oak trailhead to rendezvous with Alex and ET at 4am and shuttled everyone over to Vivian Creek trailhead to get started just before 5am.
Hiked up the Vivian Creek trail in the dark until just past Vivian Creek camp and then stopped for a snack at High Creek camp where a group of boy scouts were camping. There was no significant snow on the trail until we reached the final junction; then just a little bit of snow from the junction over to the top. Just before the summit a lady with her Chow dog (the only critter we saw all day) came blazing by to reach the top at the same time as our group (9am). The skies changed from blue to gray as high clouds filtered out the sunshine, and with a steady wind it made for a chilly summit.
After a summit snack we headed over to Jepson Peak by 10am and then descended down the SW side of Jepson to get back on the trail. The traverse on Jepson’s NW side over to the Dry Lake view, greeted us with several hundred yards of slippery crusty snow on a pretty good slope with a rocky runout. With no hardware among us, we resorted to cutting steps with rocks (no really ROCKS!). With no bronze-age tools, we had to revert to Neanderthal mode. It took us about 30 minutes to cross that slope; it was the crux of the day. Minus 5 points for bad planning D’oH! but plus 10 points for improvisation, Woo Hoo!
Seriously, I think the current conditions on the northern exposed slopes warrant an ice axe and crampons, just to be safe.
From Dry Lake View, we followed the ridgeline up and over Little Charlton (11:20), then over to Charlton (11:40) and down to Dollar Saddle (12:20). The snow patches along this section were not a problem as the snow wasn’t icy and one could pretty much find a dirt path between snow patches. Another snack at Dollar Saddle and off to Alto Diablo. Spotting Alto Diablo from the Dollar Saddle approach is a bit tricky as there’re several rock piles encountered before you reach the true pile. We went over each of these rock piles before reaching AD at 1:00. Approaching from the West, Alto Diablo is the 1st rock pile just after the trail swings around to the north side of the ridge.
There is snow on the north side of the ridgeline (where the trail runs) from Alto Diablo to San Bernardino Peak. We went X-country and followed the ridgeline as we picked up Shields Peaks (1:40) and then did the same thing as we approached Anderson (2:15). Got over to East San Bernardino Peak (2:50) and finally to #9 San Bernardino by 3:30 to sign the last summit register of the day. Most of the 9 peak registers are ammo boxes that are bolted and chained to a summit block. Many of the registers had multiple logs with so many signatures that it was hard to track who had summited and when (we did see Don Elliott’s 9-peaks entries). What happens to the old summit logs? Who collects them?
Started down from San Bernardino Pk around 4:00 and then stopped to check out the Colonel Washington Monument, which was the original 1852 survey point for all land in southern California. History lesson http://www.pobonline.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/Article/1,9169,94757,00.html Got one last view of San Gorgonio about 7 miles to the east and then headed down the trail on crunchy snow as the evening shadows descended on the north side of San Bernardino. Had to break out the headlamps for the last hour on the way back Angelus Oaks and I was tripping over lots of little stuff and skating on patches of acorns. Got to the Angelus Oaks trail head at 6:30. Overall, ~26 miles with ~8K gain/loss in 13.5 hours; another great day in the mountains!
Here’s link to some photos;
I did the 9 peaks but starting at Angelus Oaks to San Gorgonio's summit and returning to Angelus Oaks (I couldn't get anyone for a car shuttle between Angelus Oaks and Vivian Creek). I did it in June and ran out of water. Turned into a very long day (~ 19 hrs). My brief report.
I'm glad you put up the Iron Mtn-Baldy trip. I've been to Iron before and now I'm planning a hike like yours: start at Heaton, bag Iron, bag West Baldy & Baldy, then down via the Devil's backbone and hope to catch the ski lift down. Cheers,
Un-believable that you hiked the dry San Berdo ridgeline and back in June. Epic thirst and I'd bet there were some pretty good hallucinations kicking in those final hours ; )
Iron-Baldy is also very dry, so be forewarned about trying an out & back on that ridge. There was no snow on the San Antonio ridge as of Dec 10, except for the final slope up West Baldy. Good luck. Rick Graham