Ascent of North Iron Mountain on 2019-01-22

Climber: Jeffrey Swain

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:North Iron Mountain
    Elevation:2703 ft / 823 m

Ascent Trip Report

Trailhead is at Ellie Lane off Highway 67 between the Iron Mountain Trailhead and the Mount Woodson Trailhead. Trailhead is basically a residential cul-de-sac. Folks on the north side raise horses and llamas. On the south is an open pasture with sheep. There are plenty of signs, a kiosk with map and instructions. Trail follows a straight line, presumably coinciding with property lines and right-of-way. Then it takes a right-angle turn past some llamas horses and a couple of Great Pyrenees dogs and a sign not to antagonize the dogs. There is a prickly pear cactus which, today, is producing edible fruit. Trail at this point is well marked but not particularly well maintained. Still, it's a steady climb to Table Rock. Incidentally, there is a picnic table to the left of Table Rock, underneath a giant Coast Live Oak. Table Rock sits at the bottom of a giant slab of granite. If you follow the slab of granite to its apex you will find a discernible trail. Trail meanders a bit among the bushes and boulders. Views get dramatic at this point. There is some minor bushwhacking and scrambling until you get to the top.

The top of North Iron Mountain is an elongated near-oval shape. It is punctuated by Class 5 and Class 6 monoliths. I chose to circumnavigate the top. I'm not up to any technical climbing, so circumnavigation is the best way I know to prove that I was there. I explored among the rock clusters and chimneys, scrambling and bushwhacking as I went. I eventually found a climbable rock cluster at the west end of the oval. Standing on it, I seemed to be higher than any of the monoliths or Class 5 or Class 6 boulders. I touched one more "tooth" and tried to return to the downhill trail. The trail or south side of the mountain was quite temperate; however the northern edge is quite brisk and windy. I put on a jacket at that point. View were excellent, though hazy. I could see the Ellie, Iron Mountain, the Coronados, Downtown, Point Loma, Mt. Soledad, Black Mountain, San Clemente Island, Catalina Island, San Jacinto, and Cuyamaca.

Lessons learned: 1. Use super glue to fasten the rubber tips to the poles. This was my first trip where I didn't lose a rubber tip. Good suggestion, Vern. 2. Wear a vest with lots of pockets. Between iPhone (my GAIA tracker), iPod (music device), and my Nikon Coolpix camera, the extra pockets kept them from getting lost and banging around. 3. Carry a helmet. True. I'm not doing any technical rock climbing, but I have banged my head more than once in this pursuit.

Trail gets less discernible going down, but at least I had gravity in my favor. More bushwhacking until I got back to Table Rock, the Ellie Lane Trail, and the Trailhead. I'm calling this a Class 4 because of the scrambling involved. Roping up would be superfluous. Because of the adventure exploring the various rock clusters, I found this hike quite enjoyable.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1062 ft / 323 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1062 ft / 323 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Clear
Clear, sunny, hazy, and windy on top.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1062 ft / 323 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:Ellie Lane Trail past Table Rock.
    Start Trailhead:Ellie Lane  1641 ft / 500 m
    Time:2 Hours 48 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1062 ft / 323 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:Meandering goat paths, Table Rock, and Ellie Lane
    End Trailhead:Ellie Lane  1641 ft / 500 m
    Time:2 Hours 47 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Jeffrey Swain
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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