Saturday, May 16, 2009

It Must Be May

This Southern Pacific Rattler was spotted today in the shade of a big log by some of our hiking club members. Its behavior was the same as most every other I've seen, which is to stay still and imitate the background rather than pop off and cause a fuss. These snakes are really active in May, we almost always see them on our May club hikes.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May 9 on Mt Baden-Powell

Climbed the mountain today with hiking buddy Mark, and it was a great day. Here's the view of the Antelope Valley from the north face, near the summit. The top several hundred feet or so was still under snow, which actually is part of the reason to go during this season. Also the summit was weirdly swarming with ladybugs, a kajillion of em, flying around, landing on you, bumping into your head (VIDEO, no sound). On the drive home I got this great snapshot of Iron Mountain and the East Fork from Inspiration Point. The East Fork is the deepest gorge in southern California, even deeper than Grand Canyon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Climbing Iron Mountain

8000' Iron Mountain (MAP) isn't the tallest peak in the San Gabriels, but the guidebook calls it the toughest dayhike in the range. Its elevation, remoteness, low trailhead elevation, rollercoaster ridgeline route, steepness, and lack of a summit trail combine to make it tough. So on Friday with hiking compadre Nina we tried this 6000' climb. It's a 15-mile day that took 13 hours.
These guys posted some funny reviews of the Iron Mountain experience.
The 2000' trailhead is in the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. The first 2500' or so ascends the southwest ridge. This ridge has 8 or 10 bumps on it, so you keep ascending and then losing elevation, sometimes a lot, so you probably end up climbing an extra 1000' or so on this hike on top of the 6000 feet of climb. The ridgeline is covered in brushy chaparral, not impenetrable but hot and exposed. At mile 5 it gets more unfriendly, climbing the remaining 3400 feet in 2.5 miles with no real trail. The grade in places probably exceeds 3000fpm, easily fitting into the category of 'scrambling'. The summit view (video) is probably among the best in the range. The tricky descent took the same time as the ascent - 6 hours. We returned to the trailhead at 9pm, the final two miles with headlamps.
While it tops out at just 8000' elevation, in some ways this climb rivals the Mt Whitney mountaineers' route in difficulty.