Ascent of Mount San Antonio on 2012-07-21

Climber: Joseph Esparza

Date:Saturday, July 21, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount San Antonio
    Elevation:10064 ft / 3067 m

Ascent Trip Report


From Falls Road (6200') on Mt. Baldy road, go up a paved road for 1 mile up until you get a great view of mighty San Antonio Falls. The trail switchbacks to the right, and becomes unpaved. Go up this road for 2.5 miles, while you quickly gain 1,150'. You will pass under the Mt. Baldy ski lifts, and make one final switchback to the Baldy Notch (7,800') 3.6 miles from the start. If you do not have all day, read Hike # 4 for more information. From the Mt. Baldy Notch (Your last stop for water and restrooms before the summit), go left and take a trail to the right-side of the small valley near the Notch. Take this trail upwards about 1 strenuous mile. Then the final ski lift chair ends, and you enter into the Devil's Backbone, one of the most horrific ridges in Southern California. This is insanely steep, and narrow. You will wind over cliffs and above ridges, with steep drops on each side. A lot of people say stuff like, "Just keep your eyes in front off you, but don't look down!" This, at least for me was a saying that did not hold true. I had no problem with the extreme drops, but in my party two of my friends were afraid of heights, and if you are, take this sector carefully. What an experience for those of us who do not have height issues. Standing an open ridge line, maybe 8' wide in some places, surrounded by God's breathtaking creation. The mountains and trees around, the vast and barren Mojave to your left, and the wide metropolis to your right. Wow, an adventure I won't forget. Remember: Devil's Backbone gain 2,200' in only 3.2 miles, making it one of the steepest places to hike in all of Southern California. After winding around a wide barren mountain to your right, which is Mt. Harwood, Mt. San Antonio can be seen. Keep going up to the summit, but Go SO VERY SLOWLY. Going up the last 0.5 miles is insanity! I can't even describe how intense this section is. Literally, I took brakes every 10'. Soon you will see the gravelly summit (10,068') shining in the bright blue sky in the sun with perhaps a few white clouds floating by.

I could not help but think of my journey to heaven. This last crazy section of the hike up to the summit, gaining 3800' in 6.8 miles, cliffs and precipices on my side, and I arrive at the large peak, so close to God's Majesty. What could this mean in a spiritual aspect? Well, those 3800' gained could represent the love one gains of God so high. The cliffs and gorges? The easy 'drop-offs' of the evil one. Stay on the narrow path towards the mountain (heaven). Those last killer steps to the peak? How Satan wants us to give up right before we reach God's majesty. The actual peak, shining in the glorious bright sky, with clouds aloft? Well, I think you can guess what that could be.
When you are finalyl on the top of Mt. San Antonio be sure to take a picture of the summit marker. Look around and observe to incredible view from the top. Straight to the west is the steep gorge of the San Gabriel River, the Angeles high county, and Mt. Baden Powell in the foreground. To the north the vast Mojave. Those distant mountains past the desert? The far-away Tehachipis and if you are blessed to hike on a clear day, the pinicales of Mt. Whitney. To the immediate east is the Cajon Pass and the I-15 freeway, winding its way to Canada. To further east is more of the Mojave followed by distant mountains (Joshua Tree National Park), and the San Bernardino Mountains, including the shiny gravel peak of Mt. San Gorgonio. Then to the right of that the San Gorgonio Pass, then San Jacinto Mountains, and the LA Basin and Inland Empire. Further still, and be seen Santiago and Modjeska Peaks and Orange County. The small hills that gleam brown in front are the Chino Hills. You may be able to see the Ocean and Santa Catalina Island, as well as the Palos Verde Peninsula. Still to the right, Downtown Los Angeles, yes we saw the skyscrapers, the distant Santa Monica Mts, back over to Mt. Wilson, covered with antennas and two gleaming white observatories.
Enjoy your view, and return via a small trail leading downwards on the southeast slope of the mountain. This is the Ski Hut Trail, that will deliver you back to the parking area. This trail is ridiculously steep and requires almost as much energy going down than coming up! Take extreme caution, this is an unmaintained trail. There are many side trails, but do not take these. Just stay on the main one to entire way down. This is an immediate descent of 3800' in 4.5 miles. You will soon find yourself surrounded in a boulder field about 2 miles from the summit. This part is very easy to get lost in. Travel cautiously, looking always for what will seem to be the trail. Carry a Topographical map. If you took the correct trail, you will find yourself at the headwaters of San Antonio Creek, and soon the Sierra Club's Ski Hut. From here stay on the trail for 2 more miles descending about 2000'. When this trail end it hits the Mt. Baldy Fire Road. Take this road to your right, pass the waterfalls, back to your car.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3800 ft / 1158 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3800 ft / 1158 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Warm Day Grat views to Downtown LA, The LA Basin
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3800 ft / 1158 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Route:Baldy Road to Devils Backbone down via Ski Hut Tra
    Start Trailhead:Manker Flats   6264 ft / 1909 m
    Time:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3800 ft / 1158 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Ski Hut Trail
    End Trailhead:Manker Flats  6264 ft / 1909 m
    Time:4 Hours 

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