How It BeganA guy on SummitPost had sent me a message saying he wanted to get some climbing in sometime locally. Cool thing was, it was a guy my age named Gene Merewhether. So he found me on Facebook and we began talking about possible up coming trips. We both wanted to hit San G and SJ in the winter, so it was down to either those two. Last minute, we decided upon doing San Jacinto due to the fact that I was sick (and I still am a week later writing this trip report) because it would hopefully be less strenuous.
The plan was to take the tram up. From there, we were going to check out some unnamed pinnacles near Cornell Peak (as well as Cornell) and then head up to San Jacinto and then tag Miller Peak along the way. After San Jacinto, we were going to traverse over to Jean Peak and then head down to Wellmans Divide. After that, we were going to follow the Hidden Divide Ridge and hit Landells Peak and then check out Hidden Lake. Finally, we were going to head back to the tram. All in all, this was supposed to be around an 8.5 mile roundtrip. In my experience, my plans don't always fall through.
We were set to meet at 6:20am Saturday Feburary 28 2009 in Temecula. From there, we were going to try and catch the first tram up.
What Really Happened
Right off the bat, we knew it was gonna be a warm day. After the hike from the tram to the ranger station, we were already dripping in sweat. After shedding our layers and getting our permit, we head on the trail. We went off trail almost immediately and headed for the unnamed pinnacles close to Cornell (Yale and Harvard Peaks). The snow was VERY VERY soft and slushy. This would prove to be the challenge of the day for us. Heading up the East side of Yale was extremely difficult due to the soft snow. The snowshoes weren't helping and it was too soft for crampons. So we were slipping and sliding all over. Finally, we reached the saddle between Yale and Harvard Peak.
We dropped packs and began our climb. We switched from snowshoes to crampons, which, we found out later, wasn't really necessary. The NW Face of Yale proved to be fairly exciting. It offered Class 3 climbing with great views. We reached the top of Yale Peak at around 10:40am. This peak has great views of the desert along with San Jacinto. After getting our summit shots, we down climbed back to our packs and headed back down to the saddle.
Switching back into snowshoes, we attacked the SE Face of Harvard Peak head on. The snow in this section was THEE worst. We were sliding all over the place and were sinking in past our knees. The temperature made it even worse and we were both sweating like dogs. Finally, we neared the top of Harvard Peak. At the top, there is an interesting Class 3 summit block. We dropped packs again and made an attempt on it. This summit block proved to be alot of fun. I was the first up and then Gene went up. We suited up again, this time with crampons. We started up again around 11:40am.
We headed for Cornell along the ridgeline. This little section proved to be HELL. It had tons of rock, mixed with freakin manzanita along with warm, slushy snow. Finally, we reached the saddle between Cornell and Harvard. We began heading up to Cornell and saw tracks from a party that was there a week prior to us. Cornell topped the two other peaks by far. It was a spectacular Class 3 climb up with great views in all directions. Signing the summit log, we headed up for the last section, the worst part of the climb. Gene went up first, followed by me. We were both atop the part before the catwalk and unanimously decided that it would be a good idea to not go all the way out on the catwalk (We both have wayy to much climbing left to do). So we took pictures and headed down around 1:40pm.
On the way down, I brought up the fact that San Jacinto might be out of the picture on this outing. We had already thrown out doing Jean Peak and Landells Peak awhile back. The only San Jacinto 10K peak I had left to do was Miller Peak. But, due to time constraints, me and Gene both decided to opt out of San J and Miller.
We had decided to down climb the South Face of Cornell. Baddddd idea. Without snow, it might had been better. But it was quite steep and overgrown. The snow conditions, once more, made things ALOT worse. Finally, we reached flat ground once more. We caught up with a trail and began following it back to the Tram station. Landells Peak came into view once more, and I thought that it looked doable. So we went off trail and headed towards it. However, it seemed pretty far off, so we called that off. We then took a break and rested for a bit. Gene went off to do some bouldering (he came back with some nice cuts on his hands) and I found a nice rock to rest in. It was around 3:30pm when we decided to head back for the tram. W hauled butt back and pasted quite a few people.
We made it back to the tram around 4:00pm. We dropped packs at the viewing area outside and decided to relax a few. However, I was a moron and forgot that we needed to turn our permit in again. So Gene, being the good guy that he is, decided to head back to the ranger station and drop it off. At around 4:40pm, we caught the tram back down to the bottom.
Looking BackIt was a great day overall. I was satisfied even without doing San Jacinto and Miller Peak. I was also very happy that we didn't try San Gorgonio that day. My cold wasn't that bad throughout the whole day, so that was nice. Also, it was really nice getting to know Gene. He is a great guy and I hope we can go climbing again soon.
Thanks for reading!