North Face (Middle East Chute)

North Face (Middle East Chute)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.10060°N / 116.8278°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: Snow Climb
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log


The North face of San Gorgonio as viewed from Dry lake has 4 distinct chutes, or snowfields or couloirs(depending on your definition of them). This route follows the middle left, or east chute. I wanted to call it the middle east couloir when I first saw it, due to that there are 4 separate chutes, one east and one west, and our party got in a habit of calling these two snowfields between the end chutes the middle east and middle west couloirs. Another way to look at it is that it's the second to the left.

This route climbs up the chute to the top of the North Face of San Gorgonio. A ski descent is possible, as our party did. For ski descents, any of the 4 chutes are options depending on conditions, which you may observe on the way up the route. Be looking out for small gaps or crevasses (yes crevasses) along the way down.

Getting There

Southern CA- In Redlands take HWY 38 going towards Big Bear. Exit Jenks Lake Road West and follow to trailhead. Follow the South Fork trail up 4 miles to South Fork Springs and take the trail to Dry Lake, and camp there.

Route Description

From South of Dry Lake follow a drainage up to the base of the North face to a big draw passing the East Chute and following up to the tongue that the two middle chutes end up into. Follow the left chute up snow or neve ice depending on conditions to the top. Descend the same way or take the trail back down once gaining the summit ridge.

Essential Gear

Conditions vary. I climbed it in April with 1 ice axe and crampons and it was never a problem, as the snow was Styrofoam like. I can see this icing up and becoming a great ice climb, and the need for full on ice climbing regalia. In summer this route would be not recommended due to scree and talus.

Red Tape

Permits are required for day use or overnight use in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. The Mill Creek Ranger station is a convenient place on the way up from Redlands to get this as well as parking permits, which are required.

Mill Creek Ranger Station (909)382-2881



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