San Gorgonio's North Face
14mi, 4600ft gain
Team “DinosaurFireballPrairieDustins?” assembled at CalTech at 4:45am to make the drive up to Angelus Oaks and the South Fork trail of San Gorgonio Mountain, the highest peak in Southern California (11, 503 ft). Fueled by coffee, a worryingly small amount of unleaded, and Cody’s extremely potent natural gas, the squad made it to the trailhead (6900 ft) and was walking by 6:45am. The 2015 Lake Fire had done a number on the area. But thanks to the awesome work of Forest Service trail crews, the South Fork was in great shape and took us the 5.5mi to Dry Lake by 8:30am.
After a brief kumquat and gummy break, team “CropDustinTyranoBall?” veered southwest and departed from the summer trail at snowline (9300ish ft) with eyes on the looker’s middle-right of the four north facing gullies. Despite the lack of freezing temps, the clear nights had firmed up the snow surface into a slick crust. So team “CropMericasaurusDustinDogs?” threw on our Skeats (check out @skeatsskincleats on IG if you haven’t yet!) for some extra traction and headed up the ridgeline just east of our planned descent line.
Halfway up the ridge, things started to steepen a bit. So planks went onto packs and Cody, powered by kumquats and flatulence, led the bootpack to the false summit at the top of the line. This summit is annoyingly only 9ft shy of the true summit. so a short snowy ridgeline traverse ensued to bring us to the true top of SoCal at 11am.
After the necessary summit beer, lunch, view appreciation, photographic proof, and general tomfoolery, team “PrarieDogginCropDustoRaptors?” traversed the ridge back to the top of the line and transitioned for the shred. While the sun exposed snow on the summit ridge had started to soften nicely, it was still quite firm on our north facing descent line. At least our avalanche risk was low to none. But with the slope not much above 30 degrees and sharp edges on our planks, we all enjoyed a fast and fun ride for 2k or so of vertical in the gully before traversing back into the dry lake drainage towards the summer trail. The snow softened in the glades lower down, and made for some decent turns that impressed some envious hikers on their way up. We gradually lost coverage and resorted to calculated turns between logs and Manzanita until we reached the trail and our approach shoes. The 70-degree weather spurred a hasty delayer and transition.
One last look at our tracks on the face and we were headed back to the car, then on to beers and grub at The Oaks in Angelus Oaks. We highly recommend this spot for anything from breakfast food to veggie burgers or fettuccine alfredo. A quick soak in the creek, several scarred tourists, and a couple hours of driving later, team “BallzyDustinFireDoggyCrop?” was back in Pasadena by 6pm. Another fun day in the local SoCal mountains!