Iron Baldy Traverse 2011

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Google Earth picture of the route

Two groups from the CAC did the classic Iron Baldy Traverse in the local San Gabriel Mountains. Very arguably the best hike in the the range, and pretty unbeatable for something so close!

Iron-->Baldy Group

Patrick, Hamik, and Josh completed the traverse from Heaton Flats to Manker Flats. We'd originally planned to attempt the double traverse, returning to Iron Mountain after Baldy and descending back to the car, but gave up on this plan due to time constraints, general laziness, and the hope that the other group would have left a car at Manker Flats. After some unexpected throwing up by Patrick after the windy drive in, the group set out from Heaton Flats at about 3:30 am, slogging up the increasingly overgrown trail to Iron Mountain, reaching the summit at 7:30-7:45. While steep and often densely overgrown, the trail was easier than expected, perhaps in part due to recent rain and snow which had left the dirt moist, providing good footing on many steep sections.

We decided to only attempt the single traverse at this point, and so enjoyed the view and took our time eating and drinking before heading onto the San Antonio ridge. Josh and Hamik attempted a boulder problem along the way. The first part of the ridge is easy scrambling, with a couple of class 3 downclimbs. Mostly great fun, but as one expects in the San Gabes, there are many loose rocks, plenty of sliding dirt and leaves, and lots of crawling through and around gnarled trees. The second part of the ridge broadens and you are treated to a hike over rolling bumps in the ridge through what might be termed 'arid meadows' of flowers and spiky buckthorn. There are a couple of mandatory wades through the spikes, but they're not too bad (definitely do this hike in long pants, though!).

Shortly after reaching the end of the ridge and beginning the slog through the snow up Baldy, we met the party going the opposite direction , to much shrieking and whistling. Bill graciously gave us the keys to his car to use for our shuttle back! The rest of the climb up the ridge was through 6 inches to a couple of feet of snow over rocks and dirt. The views became stunning as afternoon clouds rolled in. We met up on the summit and quickly left to avoid the typical cold winds there, noticing a huge increase in temperature just a couple hundred yards down the mountain as we got out of the wind and into the clouds. We descended back past the ski hut in clouds, eventually breaking through and returning to Manker Flats at about 3 pm.

Photos

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Baldy-->Iron Group

PT, BG ,Ana , Aron, and Bill completed the traverse from Manker Flats to Heaton Flats.