Southern California Mountaineering

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
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Stockwell

 
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Southern California Mountaineering

by Stockwell » Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:03 pm

Hey Summitposters!

My names Alex, me and my climbing partner have been discussing plans to climb some major peaks this upcoming winter and summer. We've been climbing for a few years, we're both 22 in good shape, we like long walks on the beach and moonlit dine… wait wrong forum, we love climbing tall peaks and winter is undoubtedly our favorite time of year as we both would kill to snowboard year round but that's a little out of the question.

Being from San Diego, both big peaks and cold wet weather can be hard to come by, so we've been forced to spend most of our high altitude time within the three crown ranges of SoCal. We've summited Baldy many times, San Jacinto once during winter and San Gorgonio once as a day hike. We also climbed Whitney last year, but that was more of a "get it off the checklist" hike and I wanted my partner to get some experience backpacking and sleeping in back country.

Anyways, we're not tired of these three ranges down here, but we're tired of not having the experience to feel comfortable enough climbing some more difficult routes in the winter. We both rock climb, so exposure isn't an issue with us, we don't mind "steep", we have just never been trained with crampons and ice axe :(

OUR GOALS FOR THIS WINTER!!!!

1. Mount Baldy - Climb the Baldy Bowl with Crampons and Ice Axe
2. San Gorgonio - Climb the North Chutes with Crampons and Ice Axe
3. Snowshoeing Mount Humphrey's (Arizona - 12,500' - mid December)
4. Snowboard down Baldy Bowl and San G's Chutes if possible…

We really want to get started in learning this skill set, we also wish to go climb Shasta this spring and our personal goals are much higher i.e., South America, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Himalayas. Fortunately we both have heads on our shoulders and understand what skill sets and training we will need to go to some places like those, so I am here asking for your HELP! :)

A few questions, we mainly want to do mountaineering in the future, the bigger, taller, the better.

1. For something on the scale of Baldy and San Gorgonio, would it be safe for two young strong guys like us to take some crampons, some ice axes and a copy of "Mountaineering Freedom of the Hills" to a base camp below the bowl of chutes, to practice self arrest for a day on our own while reading from Freedom, and to climb the next day? I'm sure that's how people used to do it, but exactly how safe would anyone that's climbed these routes in the winter think this approach to teaching ourselves (for the time being) would work?

2. IF, that is an unsafe option (were not looking to get hurt, were looking to climb peaks in conditions we love and enjoy ourselves in our favorite places), what would my other options be for somehow obtaining these skills?

A. Are there any guiding services for these routes in Lower So Cal?
B. Would any fine gents or ladies on here like to mentor two youngsters and take us under your wing? Belays and Beers on us!

Thanks so much everybody for any help. Really hope we can make it out and kick our feet into some slopes this winter!

Stay safe and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

-Stockwell

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MoapaPk

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by MoapaPk » Thu Nov 28, 2013 9:13 pm

A lot of clubs teach snow school (Sierra Club, some SoCal meetups)-- and you can always pay to get the instruction from SMI (Kurt Wedberg's guide/teaching service). SoCal Hikers and Peakbaggers would occasionally try to get folks together for instruction.

Many folks here are self-instructed; if you can find a steep area with good (safe) runout, practice there. I like to go to our local ski area in spring after it closes, to refresh skills. Not that I am recommending that approach... but the self-instruction allows you to hammer it one time after the other, instead of waiting in line for your turn.

You can instruct yourself on moderate slopes for the 4 basic positions of self-arrest... but it's harder to get instruction on the more serious issue of falling with crampons on. A lot of snow schools don't even spend much time on this aspect.

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surgent

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by surgent » Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:37 pm

When starting out, use an abundance of caution, especially when tromping in new snow. You may not have that 6th sense (yet) to know when you are in avalanche danger, or how the weather patterns usually play out. If you feel in over your heads, back off and try again. You gain knowledge incrementally.

Humphreys is a good example. In normal conditions, it's an easy hike along good trail. In snow, it can show its teeth sometimes. The slopes above treeline can be especially prone to avalanche, and the winds on that peak are legendary.

That being said, get your stuff together, and go for it. If you just get one summit of the four, that's not a bad deal for beginners. You'll probably gain a lot of useful knowledge even when "failing" to summit. There's no shame in knowing when today is not your day.

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PrestonRhea

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by PrestonRhea » Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:50 am

If you guys can, get out as soon as you can on snow and practice self-arresting and climbing with crampons and ice axes. Read the sections on snow travel in Freedom of the Hills until you've memorized them. Take classes or talk to as many people you can about avy prediction and always read up.

Once you've done that, go for it! Take on Shasta by the Casaval or one of the other ridges, it is a glorified walk-up. Go to the Sierra Nevada and climb the couloirs in spring. Don't let the spring part fool you, we have full winter conditions for a good half of the year, but the climbing will be much better later in the year.

There is nothing wrong with the peaks in SoCal, but if you plan on going for bigger things, get on bigger things. Failing on those will teach you infinitely more than succeeding in walking up a gentle snowy slope.

In conclusion: "Yer gonna die!"

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Deb

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by Deb » Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:58 am

You can spend all winter and spring on the north side of San G and never get bored! I've climbed and skied nearly every chute back there for 3 yrs and loved it. Avalanche is a decent concern throughout winter along the South Fork trail; recommend going with someone familiar with the area a few times. Plenty of folks in SoCal meet-up groups will be going out there pretty often.
Keep a watch on weather/snow conditions and give each storm a chance to settle before venturing out. Yes, read your chapter on snow travel. You've got great winter playgrounds down there to learn new skills for bigger stuff. :)

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Norris

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by Norris » Sat Nov 30, 2013 10:21 pm

North side of San G is a safer place to learn to climb with ice axe and crampons than Baldy bowl. Much better run-outs, much less likelihood of hitting rock if you were to fall and lose control. Less people, less of an issue with falling rock or ice dislodged by others. As Deb mentioned, the main risk would be avalanche, but that only applies if we are fortunate enough to get a lot of snow this year.

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96avs01

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by 96avs01 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:59 am

PrestonRhea wrote:Take on Shasta by the Casaval or one of the other ridges, it is a glorified walk-up.


Trivializing all the ridge routes on Shasta into this generalization is a bit of a reach, and definitely not the advice the I personally would offer someone that is trying to learn and develop their skill set. YMMV

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2600fromatari

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by 2600fromatari » Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:40 pm

I would scratch the guiding service off your list for any of the mountains you listed. As others have said, I think your biggest concern is an avalanche on Baldy or Gorgonio. What you're doing is fine and well within your capabilities. Train yourself with the ice axe and crampons. Find a moderate slope and practice self arresting and moving efficiently. It's not rocket science.

Join the San Jacinto board and jump on when someone does a trip. I'd go with you guys but I'm not qualified to mentor anyone. :-) Personally, I love San Jacinto more than the other two. The routes are bigger, more dramatic, and more beautiful IMO, but everyone seems to love Baldy for some reason. From yesterday:
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MoapaPk

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by MoapaPk » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:13 pm

2600fromatari wrote:I would scratch the guiding service off your list for any of the mountains you listed.


He did say this: "We really want to get started in learning this skill set, we also wish to go climb Shasta this spring and our personal goals are much higher i.e., South America, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Himalayas."

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2600fromatari

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by 2600fromatari » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:46 pm

I'm responding to this, "A. Are there any guiding services for these routes in Lower So Cal?"

Since he's specifically asking about guiding services for the SoCal mountains, I'm going to say no he does not need a guide for Baldy, Gorgonio, or San Jacinto.

MoapaPk wrote:
2600fromatari wrote:I would scratch the guiding service off your list for any of the mountains you listed.


He did say this: "We really want to get started in learning this skill set, we also wish to go climb Shasta this spring and our personal goals are much higher i.e., South America, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Himalayas."

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TheGeneral

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by TheGeneral » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:47 pm

Forget SoCal. Take a multi-day snow course in the Cascades.
"I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of tiring till the South begs for mercy." -- William Tecumseh Sherman

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simonov

 
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Re: Southern California Mountaineering

by simonov » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:47 pm

TheGeneral wrote:Forget SoCal. Take a multi-day snow course in the Cascades.


Another manifestation of the high caliber of experienced advice we are used to seeing from the General in Off Route.

BTW, another place to find good SoCal climbing partners is http://www.eispiraten.com A lot less posturing and attitude there, too.
Nunc est bibendum.


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