Ascent of Eagle Mountain on 2016-12-25

Climber: Dean Gaudet

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, December 25, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Eagle Mountain
    Elevation:5350 ft / 1630 m

Ascent Trip Report

other than being a bit chilly, the weather was great today. the recent rains had scrubbed all the skies, and the ground. it was wonderfully blue sky... and as an added bonus the heavy snowfall the past few days on san jacinto and san gorgonio made them look very nicely white above ~6000'.

i bagged mastodon peak earlier this year, but it was too windy on that day to go after eagle. so for eagle this time i decided i'd go from the campground, without the mastodon peak detour. i parked near the restrooms, although i'm not sure this is allowed if you're not camping? it was pretty dead though, being christmas, and i figured my interagency pass in my windshield would be enough. (it seems to have been sufficient.)

the trip across the desert to the base of the mountain requires much up and down across drainages. i felt like i was always at odds with the drainage direction, and wondered whether another approach (such as burd's) would be more "in the grain" rather than against it. it might be worth studying satellite photos to see if there's any better choice. it was easy enough to aim for the obvious west canyon on the mountain, and find ways through the major obstacles on the way.

the canyon was relatively straightforward, and there were a few, seemingly unnecessary, cairns, and i just kept chugging along... i had read there was a fork around 4300' and i remember wondering where that was, but not seeing any obvious fork. i checked my phone at around 4600' and realised i must have missed it, the tracks i had with me had diverged. i knew from the SP page that the fork i was on would go to the top, so i stuck with it. there were approximately no cairns on this fork (one or two closer to the top).

the summit area is an exercise in finding a path through the rocks without unnecessary up/down. i'd find cairns here and there, these were generally useful.

the summit has great views (described above). the register and benchmark are intact.

on the way down i tried following the cairns the whole way... they got me close, but not quite to the saddle beyond which i'd end up in the main canyon. i was determined to go down the "right fork" i had missed earlier... just to compare. overall this fork seemed as easy/difficult as the fork i had gone up: right up until i got near the fork point and this fork turns into a dryfall... in fact it really doesn't look like a fork at all: the path i had taken uphill was basically the main canyon, and this "fork" is a dryfall that isn't at all obvious on the right hand side as you're ascending.

if you want an easier ascent i'd say go left (or really, just stick in the canyon and don't even bother looking for the dryfall), as i did on ascent. if you want to climb the dryfall, then look for it and give it a whirl. it's definitely more challenging than my ascent.

on return across the desert i aimed for the visitor center, and when i couldn't see that (because i was in a drainage) i would aim for the curve in the road. but i forgot the distance between the visitor center and the campground, so this put me too far to climbers' right (although you do meet up with a very straight trail which is visible on sat map and heads direct to the campground)... i'd suggest aiming for the white water tank on the hill, that will probably get you closer to the campground.

great hike.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2585 ft / 787 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2585 ft / 786 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.7 mi / 15.6 km
    Grade/Class:class 2+
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2420 ft / 737 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2220 ft / 676 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:4.8 mi / 7.7 km
    Start Trailhead:cottonwood campground  3130 ft / 954 m
    Time:3 Hours 24 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2385 ft / 726 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2220 ft / 676 m; Extra: 165 ft / 50m
    Gain on way out:165 ft / 50 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    End Trailhead:cottonwood campground  3130 ft / 954 m
    Time:3 Hours 0 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dean Gaudet
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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