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Ascent of El Montanon on 2019-05-01

Climber: Sandy Lara

Date:Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:El Montanon
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:1808 ft / 551 m

Ascent Trip Report

For our 10th anniversary we decided to do an "island adventure" different from the usual Hawaii. Neither of us had been to Santa Cruz Island. I grew up in Ventura but only made it to Anacapa a couple of times. I don't remember if there was much access back then to the other islands (1970s). We booked passage with Island Packers and rented a kayak that was hauled on the boat (extra charge) for our 3 day trip. We camped at Scorpion Campground. There are really two campgrounds, and both have nice shade, mostly from eucalyptus trees. The "lower" campground is closer to the beach and the sites are relatively close together. The "upper" campground is not really higher elevation, just further inland by about another 5-7 minute walk. It has 3 individual sites (#23, 24, and 25) that look up into the canyon and are spaced farther apart. We were in site 24 and it was great. There are also group sites nearby (toward shore) but these were unoccupied on the weekdays we were there. It all filled up on Friday, though. While there is an advantage to being closer to the coast, especially if you are kayaking, the upper sites are nicer if you don't mind a little extra walk. There is potable water and relatively nice pit toilets at both campgrounds. Each campsite has a medium sized "fox box" on the end of each table and additional full size bear boxes have been added. The Island Fox is everywhere and will rob your food, so it is handy to have this capacity to keep everything protected (including packs). Bring a cord and clothespins if you want to hang things to dry. We started the hike to El Montanon from our campsite, taking the usual loop counterclockwise. It's signed almost to the peak, which is the highpoint after the one with the structures on it. Coming down, there is a T-junction that points right for Smuggler's Cove. At this point, turn left to go back to Scorpion. We also took the little hike to Cavern Point (loops from next to the Visitor Center to campsite 22). Stats include the 3 days that we were on the island. Kayaking note: If you want an expensive guided kayak trip, you can get it at Scorpion. I think it was $149/adult for 3 hrs. You cannot rent a kayak without a guide on the island, however. It is cheaper and better value to rent a kayak from the outfit next to Island Packers, pay Island Packers to haul it across and back, and have full use of it while you are on the island, assuming you will have several hours to use it. The largest number of sea caves in the world are right around Scorpion! You can go to the right if the sea is relatively calm in the morning. Otherwise, go to the left. Pay attention to the tides. Higher tides are better as you can float over more rocks. Low tides don't allow as much access into the caves, but you can still see a lot. The kayaking there is spectacular. I even had a pod of 20-30 bottle-nosed dolphins go by, as close as a paddle length! The diving and snorkeling would also be fantastic, but we didn't have equipment--next time we will.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2600 ft / 792 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2600 ft / 792 m
    Distance:14 mi / 22.5 km
    Start Trailhead:-792 ft / -241 m
Descent Statistics



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