Ascent of San Gorgonio Mountain on 2014-06-20

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Alan Bernier
Date:Friday, June 20, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:San Gorgonio Mountain
    Elevation:11499 ft / 3504 m

Ascent Trip Report

We had phoned the Mill Creek ranger station the day before and learned that the most popular Viviens Creek trail had no permits available (on a Friday) but there was availability for South Fork. Also we learned that the Fish Creek access road is in bad condition this year and needs high clearance. So we called in at the ranger station (open until 4.30) and obtained a South Fork permit, also the Adventure Pass needed to park at the trailhead, and a photocopy trail map, rather basic but free of charge and did the job. After our afternoon ascent of San Jacinto Peak we slept at South Fork trailhead.

Next morning we start hiking at 06.46. There is just the one trail, starting at N34.16064 W116.87154 opposite the parking lot. The surface is pretty good and we make good progress. Arriving at the fork N34.13095 W116.84388 2503m we keep left for Dry Lake (N34.11942 W116.82875, 2674m) which is indeed dry and grassed over. At the far end of the lake the trail bends R and switchbacks uphill.

Just before reaching Trail Flat we take a break and, studying the north face of Gorgonio we realise we can head straight up and save ourselves a couple of miles. Leaving the trail we soon pass a large cairn N34.11415 W116.83266, 2875m. We cross easy stony ground and head up the middle tree-covered ridge. It's reasonable hiking most of the way up: just the last section is loose and a little laborious.

Arriving at the summit plateau we angle left and cross a rocky top (N34.10131 W116.82910, apparently a watershed triple divide point) then Gorgonio's west summit (N34.10083 W116.82868, apparently the same elevation as the main summit or nearly so) before joining the main trail which leads to San Gorgonio summit (boulder at N34.09922 W116.82495, 3508m; several others of approx equal elevation; also a small USGS benchmark stating elevation 11501.6 ft, and a summit register). Slightly hazy view of yesterday's San Jacinto Peak right across the valley: one of those instances where ultra-prominence peaks sit facing each other.

We descend west on the main trail towards Dollar Lake, climbing R to take in Jepson Peak with its bouldery summit N34.10292 W116.84477 3415m and nice view of Gorgonio. We descent roughly NW on sandy ground and pick up the main trail again which takes us round to the Charlton saddle. We head straight up to Little Charlton Peak (N34.11039 W116.85039, 3251m, boulder, register; several summits approx same height) and Charlton Peak (N34.11483 W116.85372, 3296m, pine tree, register); both peaks have nice views of Gorgonio. That's got us 4 peaks out of the 9 Peak Challenge which makes a traverse from Vivien Creek to San Bernadino trailheads. This would be nice although as I mentioned to the ranger yesterday, the main challenge seems to be getting hold of a Vivien Creek permit (OK if you book ahead, I imagine)!

A long roughish descent north takes us to Dollar Saddle and a good trail, rocky at first but good running and we enjoy a good run back to the Dry Lake trail fork then retrace our upward route; Alan stops off to climb Poop-out Hill at the Wilderness boundary (seems I didn't miss much except maybe a peakbagger tick).

We're back at the car before 2pm: round trip 6h50; ascent time 3h48. A very nice circuit although hot at times and a first light departure might be ideal. GPS has 22km, rather shorter than billed, partly due to our shortcut up to Gorgonio.

We are in good time to make an afternoon ascent of Mount San Antonio / Baldy Peak so we head there next.

San Gorgonio Mountain photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5112 ft / 1557 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5112 ft / 1558 m
    Round-Trip Distance:16.9 mi / 27.2 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4412 ft / 1344 m
    Distance:7.5 mi / 12.1 km
    Route:Dry Lake
    Start Trailhead:South Fork trailhead  7087 ft / 2160 m
    Time:3 Hours 48 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5112 ft / 1558 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4412 ft / 1344 m; Extra: 700 ft / 213m
    Gain on way out:700 ft / 213 m
    Distance:9.4 mi / 15.1 km
    Route:Dollar Lake
    End Trailhead:South Fork trailhead  7087 ft / 2160 m
    Time:3 Hours 2 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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.

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