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Summitpost Snow Creek Climb March 2009
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Summitpost Snow Creek Climb March 2009

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Summitpost Snow Creek Climb March 2009

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 33.82672°N / 116.67789°W

Object Title: Summitpost Snow Creek Climb March 2009

Date Climbed/Hiked: Mar 14, 2009

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering

Season: Winter


Page By: Alex Wood

Created/Edited: Mar 21, 2009 / May 5, 2009

Object ID: 499699

Hits: 10117 

Page Score: 95.76%  - 56 Votes 

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How It Began (For Me)

When I first started to get into hiking and climbing, my only experiences had been up on Mt. San Jacinto, which I had done quite a few times. I would always look down to the many rock carved gullies and crevasses that carved Mt. San Jacinto's north face and would think to myself that it was impossible to climb something that sheer and steep.

When I fist joined Summitpost, I started browsing through different pictures and routes (which I still do wayyy to much) and came upon a route named Snow Creek that climbed up that steep north face of San Jacinto. I started checking it out and thought it would be a cool idea. It seemed like an objective way out of my grasp, but I thought that I would try to give it a shot and see what happens. On my first route page, an Sp'er named TacoDelRio suggested that I try and go up with Sp'er forjan. So I sent him a pm and hoped for the best. Miguel (as I later found out) said that he was going to take a group in in March 2009 and said that I could tag along, which made me real happy.

First thing was to get some more experience. Since my only mountain experiences came from hiking/backpacking and basic rock climbing, I needed to get some more experience on snow. I started off the 2008 winter season not having, crampons, snowshoes, and an ice axe. So those were going to be Christmas presents, which I ended up getting. I had been trying to go out a fair amount and ended up doing quite a few hikes/climbs locally on snow. So when the day neared, I felt well enough prepared to take on this grizzly 9,600ft couloir. I still had my doubts, but it was mental now.

The Plan

Miguel had been keeping close correspondence with those who wanted to attend. From the initial lists, there were at least 20 people who were going to come on the climb, however, less then half of those ended up coming. He presented the plans very nicely to all of us, which was to follow the basic way of climbing Snow Creek. We were going to start at 4:00am and climb all day, reach the summit, hike to the tram and then get a ride back to our cars.

The Summitpost Group:

Miguel (the legendary Snow Creek expert)




Alex (Me)




These are the people that ended up doing the climb. Great group of people!

On the day before, Gene and I had arranged to drive up to the out station at the start of Snow Creek and to camp there overnight in the back of his car. This was a great idea.I think almost everyone did this except one person.

In the Dark

Gene and I ended up leaving Temecula around 8:45pm on the 13th. We got to the Snow Creek start around 10:20ish (we thought the turnout was sooner, so we were offroading for a bit trying to look for it). Apparently, Gene hadn't packed yet, so he spent quite a while sorting out what stuff he wanted to bring for tomorrow morning. Right when we were about to go to bed, Dave and Deb pulled up (which was around 10:45ish). We said "hi" real quick and then tried to sleep in the back of Gene's Lexus. Thankfully, it wasn't that windy. We set our alarms for 3:30am.
Taking a Break
Taking a Break
In the Dark
In the Dark

At 3:30, me and Gene both jumped up and begin getting ready for the day. Everyone in our group was a whole lot faster in getting ready then me, so I was the last person ready. Right at 4:00am, we began the approach. We walked fast and quietly, and neared the first Desert Water Agency outpost. I was carrying my Spot Satellite Messenger that had a green flash every few seconds, which I had to cover up on the approach. We quietly pasted the first outpost in success and continuing onward up a small asphalt road. Mt. San Jacinto loomed in front of us in the dark, but it still seemed as if it was very far away. We began to approach more lights: the second DWA (Desert Water Agency) outpost. This called for even more caution and silence. We all made it by and then prepared for the bushwhacking ahead.

The trail was marked very nicely because there was a rescue almost a week before. So it was fairly easy following (it still wouldn't have been possible without Miguel at front). After hiking for a few miles, we took a break and waited for a little more light.
Snow Creek Alpenglow
First Light

Approaching the Chokestone

The Tunnel
The Tunnel
Steep Parts
In the Canyon

Snow Creek Canyon was now in sight. Also, it was beginning to get light out. We passed Falls Creek Canyon on the left side and saw a HUGE two tiered waterfall. It was spectacular to see. We took some pictures here and continued on to find the "tunnel" (of bushes). Apparently this is a key part in finding the route. We ran into a group of Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) People who were doing some training. Anyhow, they had gone off trail a little and Miguel told them the way back. Apparently they knew Miguel as the legendary Snow Creek guide. We finished the first bushwhacking escapade and made it down into Snow Creek Canyon. Here we took around an hour break, which I utilized to put moleskin on my hurting feet.

Taking a Break
Another Break
Getting Closer
On Rock

We filled up with water and then loaded up (I was the last one ready again). I later learned that I left my sunglasses at this resting spot....If anyone finds sunglasses in this area it would be appreciated if they sent me a pm. We began the boulder hopping which leads up to the chokestone. While I was trying to cross the creek in a spot, my camera case (with the camera inside) fell into the creek. I was very disappointed by this, but I retrieved it and pulled the battery out and the memory card and put it in the pack and hoped that it would dry out. This is where my pictures stop at.

Update on Camera: It is now official broken...it survived two more trips after it's epic on Snow Creek, but now its done. 5-2-09

We arrived at the Class 3 bypass to the chokestone. I thought it was just a simple traverse across the side, but this was a long bushwhack up and over. We made it through this and then continued down into the Snow Creek proper.
The Chokestone
The Chokestone

3rd Class Bypass
Third Class Section

Climbing Up
3rd Class Part

Chokestone to the 7.400ft Fork

Above the Chokestone
Gearing Up
The Climb Begins
The Begining

We all pulled out our crampons, ice axes and helmets and began the toilsome climb upwards. It was easy going at first, but that soon changed. Miguel, Paul, and Ron all pulled pretty far ahead and left the rest of us behind. We kept climbing upwards and passed a large crevasse in the snow. I began to feel the heat of the climb, Snow Creek was a VERY tough climb, physically and mentally. I hadn't eaten that much that whole morning, so my energy was running low. I was praying for a break.
Well Deserved Break
7400ft Break
Dave and Deb
Dave and Deb

Meanwhile, snow and little bits of debris kept whizzing by us in the couloir. Most of it was small stuff, but there were a few larger rocks mixed with an occasional pine cone that would come hurling by. So that kept us on our toes. Finally, looking up, I saw that Miguel, Ron and Paul were taking a break. Steve had passed me too, so he was up there quite a bit. Gene was close by to me and Dave and Deb pulled up the rear and were taking it easy. I was very relieved to make it to that break spot. I began downing as much food as possible and drank quite a bit of Gatorade. I already felt my strength coming back.

7.400ft Fork to the 8,400ft Fork

Looking Up
Looking Up
Looking Down
Looking Down

Being the last one ready again, we left and continued our climb once more. I felt sooooo much better for this part. It still wasn't easy going, but it was definitely easier. We began to gain quite a bit more elevation, which makes sense when your climbing 40 degree snow. Miguel, Ron and Paul were up there quite a bit. This time, I was hanging with Steve, and Gene was close behind. Dave and Deb were still behind, but they were continuing up steadily.

8,400ft Fork to the Summit

The Last Fork
9100ft Fork

From this breaking point, the summit block of San Jacinto seemed just a hop, skip and a jump away. But Miguel assured me that we still had LOTS of climbing left, which was very true. This time, we broke up into two groups. Miguel, Paul, Ron, Steve and me were up front while Gene, Deb, and Dave took up the back. The elevation really began to kick in here. Coming up to around 9,000ft, lots of debris began to fall constantly around us. Higher up the route, we could see a group of skiers casually coming down. I had found out from the Mt. San Jacinto Message Board earlier that a guy named Brad was going to be leading a group of people down on skis. So I assumed that was him. When they approached, turns out, it was. Brad was on a Snowboard and had about 4 skiers with him. We stopped and exchanged a few words and they continued down the couloir while we went up.
A Skier
A Skier

Ron, Paul and Steve
The Final Push
Me Climbing Up
Me Climbing Upwards

I began to lag behind quite a bit and began feeling weak again. So I took my own little break and pulled out some food and downed the rest of my Gatorade. Feeling revived again, I attempted to catch up with Miguel, Paul, Ron and Steve. I began booking it up the last couloir, passing one of the RMRU people. Also, I passed Robb, who was climbing up with skis and then proceeded to ski down. You can see the his trip report HERE.

The snow in the last section was crap. It was all sugary and very unstable, which made this last part pretty difficult. The snow had been fabulous all day, but this last part was bad. Miguel, Paul, and Ron were atop the summit already while I was still in the last couloir. I had managed to catch up with Steve and pass him (he let me pass to take a picture). We summited around 3:30ish after being on the move ALL day. Dave, Deb and Gene came up at around 4:00.
Ron Topping Out
Ron Topping Out

Dave and Deb
Dave and Deb

We were all happy to have summited and looked back down on what we had just done. It was quite the climb. There was a group of guys who had come up from the tram, but they left before Dave, Deb and Gene got up. Also, it was cool to see Robb (the skier) drop into the couloir and head back down Snow Creek.
Summit Shot
Group Summit Shot

Summit Back to the Tram

After hanging out atop the summit with PERFECT conditions for long enough, we decided to call it a day and head back to the tram. I really wanted to bag Miller Peak because its the only 10k peak I hadn't done in the area, but I opted out of it. We had a very nice glissade down, which saved quite a bit of time. We all managed to break up into our own little groups on the way back to the tram. I was with Dave, Deb, and Miguel and the other group had Steve, Paul, Ron and Gene. Me and Miguel broke out of our group and met the other group right at the ranger station. Dave and Deb showed up a little bit afterward. We all went inside got a table and had some drinks (I had water of course and so did Gene).
All Smiles
Back at Last

We were all trying to figure out logistics on getting back to our cars. Gene and Steve decided to head down and go get there cars at Snow Creek via taxis. I went down with them, but stayed at the lower tram station. Gene was coming back to give people rides back to their cars, but we ended up just giving Dave a ride down. Since Dave and Deb live in Temecula, I decided to go back with him. They had brought two cars up in order to leave one at Snow Creek and the other at the Tram Station, but apparently, the gate on the Tram road closes around 10, so they had to leave their car at the museum.

Gene was very tired, so he decided to spend the night in his car that night in a neighborhood. I went with Dave and Deb to get their other car at Snow Creek along with the other guys.

Excitment Isn't Over Yet

We had a little issue with the DWA. If you want more information regarding this, send me a pm and I will tell you what happened.

Looking Back

Summit Shot
Summit Shot of Me

I am really glad I did this climb. It was a very good intro for me into real mountaineering, along with my friend Gene. The people we went with were first class and I was very happy to be climbing along side of them. I have a respect for Snow Creek now. Thanks to Miguel for organizing the trip and thank you everyone who went for being such good company. I hope this is not the last time I will be able to experience this route.

More Pictures-
Snow Creek Waterfalls
Snow Creek Canyon
Rock Outcroppings
First Light
Before the Chokestone
The Canyon
Looking Down
Looking Back Down
Ron and Paul (Not Ron Paul)
Ron and Paul
Looking Back Up
Looking Back Up

Thanks for reading!


Dave and DebMe Climbing UpSummit ShotSnow Creek AlpenglowLooking DownSummit ShotDave and Deb
Climbing UpRon, Paul and SteveSnow Creek WaterfallsAlmost ThereBefore the ChokestoneThe ChokestoneAll Smiles
[ View Gallery - 27 More Images ]


[ Post a Comment ]
Viewing: 21-40 of 43 « PREV 1 2 3 NEXT » 



Voted 10/10

write up and pictures! This makes me want climb this route someday.
Posted Mar 22, 2009 6:21 pm

Alex WoodRe: Great

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thank you! It is definitely worth it....its one of the best climbs in Southern California. Cheers!
Posted Mar 23, 2009 12:58 am

wyopeakMikeSan Jack rules


Voted 10/10

great story of an awesome route. San Jacinto was always one of my favorite summits of all, I really like hearing about Snow Creek. I hope the access issue is fixed one day, so I can climb it. The view down from the summit is a bigger drop then the view down from the Grand Teton. Your story makes me miss the SoCal mountains. Winter there is much milder then here in arctic Wyo.
Posted Mar 22, 2009 8:13 pm

Alex WoodRe: San Jack rules

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thank you very much! It is definitely my favorite too, I never mind coming back to climb it again. I am trying to hike/climb it from all different routes.. I still have the Cactus 2 Clouds, Seven Pines, Marion and Fuller Ridge Trails left. Hopefully I will be able to finish those up before this summer. I was at the Grand Tetons around 5 years ago, Amazing Mountains! I hope to go back and do some climbing there in the future. Cheers!
Posted Mar 23, 2009 1:02 am

fossanagreat read


Voted 10/10

Glad you all are keeping Miguel busy. Nice TR.
Posted Mar 23, 2009 4:18 pm

Alex WoodRe: great read

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thanks for the comment! Miguel has been doing alot of cool stuff lately. Cheers!
Posted Mar 24, 2009 11:03 am



Hasn't voted

Congrats guys! Looks awesome, wish I could have been there!
Posted Mar 23, 2009 6:32 pm

Alex WoodRe: Woohoo

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thanks! It was an awesome day. Yeah, you should try and do it sometime. Cheers!
Posted Mar 24, 2009 11:04 am



Voted 10/10

Really an enjoyable and well written report. Great to see so many pictures utilized in helping to illustrate and describe your effort.
Posted Mar 24, 2009 7:10 am

Alex WoodRe: Terrific

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thank you Dean! The pictures do help, its just a bummer that I couldn't have more of my own. Thanks for the comments!
Posted Mar 24, 2009 11:06 am

pmorashGood Job Woodzy!


Hasn't voted

Great trip report, thanks for putting it together! Enjoyed climbing with you, hope we run into each other again!
Posted Mar 24, 2009 3:16 pm

Alex WoodRe: Good Job Woodzy!

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thanks Paul! I spent quite awhile on it and am happy about the way it turned out. Thanks! It was nice getting to climb you too....Yeah, hopefully we get a chance to do something like that again together. Thanks!
Posted Mar 25, 2009 10:34 pm

Alex WoodRe: sweet

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thanks! What happened with you coming?!? I was wondering where you were. It was a great day! you should have been there. Cheers!
Posted Mar 25, 2009 10:35 pm

HyadventureBad Idea!


Voted 1/10

Do you really think it's a good idea to post a trip report about what is essentially a "Illegal route”?? Especially after being accosted by a official of the regulatory authority?
Posted Mar 25, 2009 3:00 pm

Alex WoodRe: Bad Idea!

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thanks for the comment and vote! Cheers!
Posted Mar 25, 2009 10:36 pm

graciaNice route!


Voted 10/10

I´m glad you enjoy nature with Miguel!. Indeed, he´s my cousin and I´m very proud of him because I think he´s a very good climber. I hope you have a great outdoors in USA!.

Oh, congratulations for your amazing pictures!

Greetings from Spain!

- Gracia Forjan
Posted Mar 31, 2009 7:31 pm

Alex WoodRe: Nice route!

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thanks! Really? thats pretty cool. Yes, from what I can tell, he is great climber and probably will even get better. Thanks! However, only a few of the pictures were mine, the rest were Miguel's.. I had some camera issues. Thanks for the kind comments! Cheers!
Posted Apr 4, 2009 1:32 am

SOCALHUSKERGreat Report...


Voted 10/10

and awesome pics!! Looks like you guys had a blast.
Posted Apr 27, 2009 4:33 pm

Alex WoodRe: Great Report...

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Thanks Robby! It was definately a good day. The suffering was well worth it. If you get a chance, I would do the route. Be cautious though. Cheers!
Posted Apr 28, 2009 1:00 am

SOCALHUSKERRe: Great Report...


Voted 10/10

Yeah, I'll have to check it out for sure. Looks amazing.
Posted Apr 28, 2009 10:54 am

Viewing: 21-40 of 43 « PREV 1 2 3 NEXT »