Ascent of Verdugo Mountain on 2019-09-14

Climber: Dan Schneider

Date:Saturday, September 14, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Verdugo Mountain
    Elevation:3120 ft / 950 m

Ascent Trip Report

So last night I decided to do this traverse. I’d been thinking about it for a couple weeks and Emily was out of town this weekend so I figured now was the time. My goal was to be out my door in Hermosa Beach by 4:00 AM, and I wasn’t paying too much attention to the clock this morning but I was pretty close. I originally planned to take the route up Mt. Thom from from Brandt Park, a route that I see from the 101 every day on my way home from work. What I didn’t realize- because I prepared so poorly- is that the park is gated and closed until 7:00 AM. That late of a start wasn’t going to be an option for me because the high today is 97°. I didn’t want to drive all the way back home empty handed, so I opened up Google Earth and found another way up from the other side of the peak. It took me about 25 minutes or so to get there, and I knew with such a late start doing a double traverse like I had originally planned for might not happen. To give myself a fighting chance I ran a bit harder on the way up Mt. Thom than I probably should have and managed to hit the peak as the sun was coming up. I stopped for a few minutes and took pictures, then took off for Tongva Peak. My intent was to stick to the ridge trail instead of running along the Verdugo Motorway. I wanted the gain and single track is way more fun than fire/service roads. For the most part, I did a good job of keeping that commitment, but there were definitely a few times when I wondered if it was really such a good idea. The trail is pretty much non-existent in certain places and steep enough in others that falling a lot on the downhills was a reality that I just had to accept. By the time I finished, I was covered in blood from thorns and brush, and I nearly stepped on a baby rattlesnake. As the morning wore on and the sun got higher, it got to be REALLY hot out there. I knew by the time I got to Peak 2646 that I needed to either turn around or finish the traverse and then Uber back to my car. Not even doing at least one full traverse seemed kind of like a waste of effort by that point, so I kept going. Between there and La Tuna Peak I took about a ten minute break in a shadowy spot off the ridge to puke a little bit (thankfully, it was just from having stringy spit in my throat, not from stomach problems) and take off my pack for a while to cool off. My core temp was obviously getting pretty high and I felt a touch of dizziness on the previous uphill. I also used that break to get a little caffeine and another gel in me (for those who may be wondering, I took six Spring Energy gels with me and 2.5 liters of water. I ended up eating four of the gels and drinking about 2.2 liters by the time I finished. I was also carrying a headlamp, a small tube of sunscreen, and a small camera.) La Tuna Peak was a slog but, thankfully, a short one. I ran a total of zero steps on that ascent, turned around immediately upon reaching the summit, and stumbled my way back down the steep use trail to the fire road and the last mile or so back to civilization. At that point, I could smell the end and have the descent everything I had left, which didn’t feel like much. Thanks to the downhill grade though, my last mile ended up being one of the fastest I’ve clocked since high school- 5:02 with the last 800 (the right kind of steep and very smooth) in 2:13. Where that came from I have no idea. I was bummed I didn’t get to do the double, but as it turned out I didn’t take enough water for that (story of my life as of late) and it wouldn’t have been fun in that heat. I do feel bad for my Uber driver though. I was pretty sweaty and I’m sure I didn’t smell great. I kept my back off his seat and gave him a good tip though. Hopefully it didn’t impact my rider rating too badly.

Total distance- 14.53 miles
Total moving time- 2:44:42
Total clock time- Not really sure. Over three hours though. I spent a bit of time on most of the summits, especially after it was clear that I wasn’t doing a double, and I spent some time taking photos. I like the route and will probably try it again in February or something when it’s more manageable. Hopefully I can bring more fitness then and move a bit faster. There were definitely some not very steep uphill sections that I was just too hot to be able to run. Such is life, I guess.
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