Ascent of San Gorgonio Mountain on 2019-05-22

Climber: Chris Earle

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Taxicab
Peak:San Gorgonio Mountain
    Elevation:11499 ft / 3504 m

Ascent Trip Report

Unusual weather for a May ascent; the peak had been socked in with heavy snowfall for 3 days, and NOAA reporting summit temperatures as low as 13F, with gale force winds. Hiked in from Vivian Creek to High Camp on the 22nd. Snow on ground at Vivian trailhead. Some footprints on trail up to a mile or two past halfway camp, thereafter broke trail to high camp. Arrived about 5 pm, about 8" of snow on ground, gusty winds, temperature about 20F. Camped. Ascent day dawned clear and calm; on the way at 05:30. Moderate pace. Trail invisible under snow most of the time, occasionally some footprints from ascents earlier this spring. Ascended a fall line to the ridge and then hewed pretty close to the trail line from there to the summit. No axe or crampons needed; hard snow. The clouds rose from the valleys, and the wind rose with them, both arriving at the summit at 08:00, just as I did. Made my way back to camp by 09:30; by this time windier, with light snow and occasional cloud breaks. One other climber, solo, had camped at High Camp as well and left for the summit sometime after I did. Weather deteriorating and temperature falling, I waited until 13:30 to leave High Camp. He hadn't returned. Temperatures still falling and continuous heavy snow and wind at this point, very cold, broke camp and started for trailhead, which I reached at 16:30. Spent an hour there, calling for a ride, until my phone battery died. About that time the snow changed to rain. Started walking back to San Bernardino. Darkness came when I had lost about 2000 feet, steady rain but warmer now, camped near the river. Next morning, misty, resumed walking, hitched a ride to town and charged phone. Called local search & rescue about the missing climber, told them all I knew. Haven't found what became of him.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Very Windy, Low Clouds
Variable but uniformly nasty. See rpt.

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