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Ascent of Cucamonga Peak on 2016-01-17

Climber: Dan Schneider

Others in Party:Damon Landau
Date:Sunday, January 17, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cucamonga Peak
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:8859 ft / 2700 m

Ascent Trip Report

After parking the car near Manker Flat (our intended finishing point) we walked down Mt Baldy rd to Icehouse Canyon. The trails were quite icy down low and there was a lot of foot traffic as this was a holiday weekend. As we got further and further up the canyon, we of course saw fewer and fewer people. The snow was deep in spots, but manageable up to the saddle, where we saw our last fellow hiker. It was getting to be quite late in the afternoon on a Sunday, and we now had the mountain to ourselves. Several snowshoers further down the trail had warned us that our intended trip would be a no go based on the depth of very loose, powdery snow on some of the slopes. Naturally, we figured we would give it a go anyway. After a quick snack at the saddle, we dropped our big bags near what looked like a pretty good tent site and set off down the trail toward Cucamonga Peak. The trail disappeared after only a few hundred yards and we were quickly on our own to find a way around Big Horn Peak and to the saddle that joins it with the northern slopes of Cucamonga. This route finding was not particularly challenging, as it was still light out and although some were quite steep, all of the slopes were manageable with crampons and ice axes. After working our way around to the saddle as the last bits of sunlight left the area, we began to ascend Cucamonga Peak. At this point, we joined up with a single set of footprints and went straight up the slope. The snow was well consolidated but still quite deep, and it made for pretty slow going. On the way back down to the saddle, we walked down a ravine before rejoining the trail a few hundred feet above the saddle. This was much easier than descending the ridge. We then continued past the saddle on a line that took us directly up the south east side of Big Horn peak, walked along the high points of the ridge, and continued down the west side toward Ontario. At this point, Damon made the mistake of taking off his hat, which caused him to lose his head lamp. Between the light of a 3/4 moon and the light coming up the mountain from LA, it was bright enough that we could easily see the trail in front of us, and all of the way across to Harwood and Baldy without our lamps, so we didn't have them on. As a result, Damon didn't notice the missing lamp until much later after the angle of the moon had diminished and it was significantly darker. As we moved along the top of the ridge, the snow conditions deteriorated rapidly. By the time we passed above Kelly's camp, we were post-holing in thigh deep powder which was covered with a layer of consolidated snow/ice that was just thin enough to not support our weight. This made for extremely laborious movement and almost immeasurably slow progress. We continued along the ridge for a while, then descended about 50 feet on the north side to join a path created earlier in the day by a party of snowshoers. Their path lasted for about 100 more yards and then turned around and headed back. We plunged on for another hour or so, making so little progress that I couldn't even guess at the distance. After coming to a ridge with a view of our destination, we became so hopelessly demoralized that I made the mistake of checking the time. It was now after 11:00 PM, and we were at least an hour and a half from the summit at our current pace (again, hopeless.) At this point, we called it. We plunged our way back to the saddle in hopes of finding the missing head lamp (no dice) and rounded the north side of Big Horn Peak above Icehouse Saddle. By the time we returned to set up camp, the wind was blowing through the saddle at approx 40 mph. After a restless sleep of only a few hours, we realized the next morning that the rest of our trip was going to be a bust. We were exhausted from the previous night and had nearly twice the distance on the agenda for day 2. It just wasn't going to work, so we packed up our camp and made our way back down Icehouse Canyon, grabbed lunch and caught the King's game at BJ's Brewhouse, and lived to fight another day.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Tent Camp
    Weather:Cool, Extremely Windy
Ascent Part of Trip: Cucamonga and Big Horn (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Cucamonga Peak2016-01-17
2Bighorn Peak2016-01-17
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dan Schneider
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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