Ascent of San Gorgonio Mountain on 2011-06-11

Climber: Lee Newton

Date:Saturday, June 11, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:San Gorgonio Mountain
    Elevation:11499 ft / 3504 m

Ascent Trip Report

Tough hike to an interesting summit. I took the Fish Creek Trail, having failed to get a permit for the shorter but steeper Vivian Creek Trail. Although I saw 1 or 2 "normal" cars at the trailhead, I was very glad of my rented 4WD Jeep to get there. In anything but ideal conditions I imagine 2WD cars could get stuck quite easily on the sandy road.

The hike starts gently through beautiful pine forests and climbs gradually via Fish Creek saddle to Mine Shaft saddle. From there things quickly got interesting. There was a lot of snow left on the trail which had a sugary surface in the warm daytime temperatures. Not great for stability and also not great for crampons. After a bit of sliding and wading I reached a point under the north face of the mountain that I had mentally noted as I stood at Mine Shaft sadle, a snow-free line up the right hand edge of a shallow snow-filled gully. I had to pick my way through the crags low down and the vegetation in the middle section but eventually got to the top without drama. Views were tremendous and other summiteers reported ascents from the west also off-route due to the conditions.

Descent of the aforementioned gully was accomplished in 5 minutes glissading, although the angle was steep enough to be rather dangerous to anyone losing control of their brake. The long hike back out was cooler as much of it lay in shadow by late afternoon. On a really hot summers day this must be a challenge. Start early and bring lots of water (I drank 4 litres over 9 hours on the hill).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3619 ft / 1102 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.9 mi / 24 km
    Route:Fish Creek Trail
    Trailhead:Fish Creek Trailhead  8080 ft / 2462 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 40 Minutes

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