Ascent of Strawberry Peak on 2015-05-31

Climber: Joseph Esparza

Date:Sunday, May 31, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Strawberry Peak
    Elevation:6164 ft / 1878 m

Ascent Trip Report

It was the last day of May and the forecast was calling for a hot one: 85 F up in Colby Canyon; not ideal hiking weather on a shade-less trail through Chaparral. The last time I did this hike (see HERE ), it was in February on a 60 F day, after a nice winter storm, which even dropped a few inches of snow which we hiked in. This trip was going to be much different I told myself; and that it was. I had plans to hike the 3 T's Trail that day as a trainer for my upcoming attempt of Mount Langley in the Sierra Nevada, but my long time hiking friend convinced my to do this one again with some of my other buddies. So I hauled out there with them to do it again. This time though we would scramble up AND down the Class 3 West Face. Although this hike was statistically easier than my last trip up here (see HERE again) , I was much more exhausted after this one though, because of the heat and lack of shade, but also because of the scrambling up and down. The wildflowers were beautiful at this time of year, even in drought (see pictures) and, being an empty trail all day, we saw an abundance of wildlife including a fawn, a racer snake, too many Western Fence lizards, and a rare Horned Lizard sub-species endemic to Southern California. All in all a great day with friends in God's creation.

Category: Strenuous
Miles: 6.8
Elevation Gain: 2,800'
YDS Climbing Rating: Class 3
Location: Angeles National Forest

The Hike: rom the rather ordinary turnout off Angeles Crest Highway, follow the unmarked Colby Canyon Trail down into its namesake canyon, and you soon you will cross a seasonal stream and quaint Colby Canyon Falls. After meandering through the canyon for about 0.5 miles, you begin to gain some elevation, and rise out of the small vale. Ahead of you, a few miles away, is the cane-shaped Strawberry Peak, with its precipitous West Face dropping steeply off: your route. As you round some sharp Yucca, and slog up through the chaparral covered slope, with marks of the great fire still present, the long ridge of which the Josephine Saddle sits begins coming into plainer view. You make two seasonal creek crossings before finally reaching the Josephine Saddle, 2 miles from the trailhead at 4,800'.

From the saddle the spur trail to Josephine Peak Fire Road appears to your left, while the Colby Canyon Trail rounds the cliffs to the north. Your route though, is to follow the faint climber's path along the ridge immediately to your right upon arriving at the saddle. Climb this steep use trail until you reach your first Class 3 block on the route, testing hand and footholds as you go. From the top of this small pitch, climb a few hundred yards to Colby Point (5,445'), and look towards the south to San Gabriel Peak and the radio antennae and astronomical observatories atop Mount Wilson. From here, you travel the ridgeline through the recovering montae vegetation eastward, pushing back brush and hopping boulders when necessary, all the while trying the stay aligned to the climber's path. Once at the base of Strawberry Peak's west face, take a breather before the exhilarating climb awaiting you.

Follow the faint trail south for a few yards before going up and tackling the first ramparts of the peak. The route looks more difficult than it actually is, and with patience you will soon be able to scale this precipitous, but fairly straightforward route. When in doubt whether you are indeed on the easiest way up, check around you for faint green or purple arrows, which have been painted on some rocks here and there to demonstrate the simplest route. After about maybe 25 minutes, you will round the north side of the peaks and scramble 100 easy yards to the summit. From there, the views of the Front Country in front of you and the High County are absolutely stunning, perhaps the best visage of both from any single summit in the San Gabriels.

After your stay on the prominent peak, take return the way you came carefully descending the West Face and returning to the saddle and Colby Canyon Trail.

Holy Trinity, Be Praised!

Hiked 5-31-2015, Los Angeles County, Adventure Pass Required.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3060 ft / 930 m
    Extra Gain:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:6.3 mi / 10.1 km
    Route:Class 3 WEST FACE
    Trailhead:Colby Canyon TH  3504 ft / 1068 m
    Grade/Class:CLASS 3
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Low Clouds

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