Location and Getting There
Dawson Peak is located on the Northern Backbone between Mount San Antonio/Old Baldy and Pine Mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains, Southern California.
It is most accessible via Mount Baldy heading north onto the Backbone or South From Wright Mountain, Wrigthwood CA.
) chose an alternate approach, via Lytle Creek and up 3N06, veering north on 3N06B.
Note should be made that 3N06 is just a gravel riverbed masqueraded as a dirt road.
3N06B only gets better and ends somewhere upstream, quite literally.
The alpine backcountry route we chose, hereinafter called T-Bone Canyon approach in Chalupastan, is a nice and easy non-technical mixed alpine climb best performed in Winter and Spring snows. The loose scree would make this approach otherwise difficult. It was also a chance to break in my new Lowa Mountain Expert GTX Mounaineering boots. They served me well with solid fit and without discomfort.
Approach Start 1951m 6400ft
Route Start 2225m 7300ft
Summit 2919m 9575ft
Route 693m 2275ft
Total 967m 3175ft
(Credits to TacoDelRio for the Stats
Dawson Peak is out of sight during the entire approach from the East and is located approximately 200 feet above and beyond the snowy shield visible at the top of the picture above.
Heading Up Beautiful Views
Starting in the dry-riverbed of the eastern debris field, our route took us up the major Couloir immediately north of Dawson's Eastern Ridgeline. There are several other beautiful snowy chutes branching off a main trunk that leads up to the right, but they require a bit more mixed climbing over an increasing series of runoff waterfalls with some bushwacking necessary higher up. That main trunk leading up to Dawson/Pine Saddle is how we descended.
Ryan yelled during a rockfall on the lower sections. Simultaneously hearing the rumble I sprinted up and out of the way as two boulders bounced and flew away overhead like meteorites. These were quite big, my helmet wouldn't have made a difference.
Cajon Pass and the High Desert
Reaching the Summit Plateau
Upper Snowfield Dawson's East Ridgeline
Upon ascending Dawson's northeastern Couloir we reached an upper Bowl with slopes varying around 45 degrees for the final few hundred feet. This is the area we refer to as the Shield, a largely open snowcovered bowl of hardpacked snow and alpine ice. The rigidity of my new boots really came in handy for proper crampon footwork on this section.
Dawson Peak @ 9,575 feet. Beautiful and relatively remote.
Upon reaching Dawson Peak you immediately notice the Devil's Backbone to the South leading up Mount Harwood to Baldy and West Baldy. The Northern Backbone then heads right over Dawson Peak to Pine Mountain just north of the Summit and onto Wright Mountain. The Mojave Desert and dry lakebeds are clearly visible to the north. Iron Mountain low to the West and Mount Baden-Powell to the Northwest.
Since it was springtime we saw some beautiful sights like iceformations and waterfalls. Ryan noticed Billions of Aphids inanimate on the top layer of snow along with lots of ladybugs. We sat and enjoyed the views just west on the Summit Plateau.
Exchanging Beers we carry up has become a tradition since climbing Cucamonga/Etiwanda last fall with my girl Haili. We had lunch and studied the approaches to the North Face of Baldy and West Baldy.
Departing the Summit we headed to the Dawson/Pine Saddle for our descent East into the main trunk and back to the debris field & dry-riverbed leading to 3N06B.
Right away we noticed more of those interesting sun and wind eroded ice formations:
Dawson/Pine Saddle Ice Sculptures
They reminded me of images people take on Aconcagua called Penetentes:
On we went into some wonderful snowfilled Couloirs. It would be wonderful to ski down these sections but caution should be taken as they all lead ito a series of waterfalls and sub-snowsurface runoff channels hugging the barren northern slopes of the main trunk down.
It goes without saying that an Ice Axe, Crampons and Helmet are a prerequisite in order to perform a successful mixed Alpine Climb on Winter and Springtime snow and ice. This is true for most of the higher peaks and trails in the San Gabriels and other Southern California Alpine environments.
I carried four liters of water and melted snow on top to make more. It gets hot and sunny in the springtime, so stay hydrated and bring a meal.
12 point crampons would make the steeper sections of Alpine Ice a lot easier to climb.
There is one large waterfall on the upper section jest below Pine Mountain Peak for the Canyoneers out there.
Visit the local climbing pages of the San Gabriel Mountains Discussion Forum
for up-to-date information and conditions.