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Ascent of Little Dobbs Peak on 2013-05-09

Climber: Patrick Bergeron

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, May 9, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Little Dobbs Peak
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:10520 ft / 3206 m

Ascent Trip Report

Original trip plan: Make the 2hr drive from Brentwood to Mill Creek Station by 8am for day permit; hit the trail by 9am; do a loop up Vivian Creek to Little Dobbs to Dobbs and back via Dobbs's West Ridge.

Trip did not go as planned. A 5-lane accident on I-10 and construction detours on 38 delayed my Mill Creek arrival to 9:15am. After driving from the ranger station to the trail, had to park at Big Falls parking lot since gate to Vivian was still closed (and would be for a couple more weeks according to a park ranger). By the time I hit the trail it was already 10am. The weather forecast had predicted bad weather after noon, so as I passed all the new construction around Big Falls, I tried to set aside my lingering doubts about the day's positive outlook. Thus, I hit the trail at brisk pace.

The trail was in great shape - well-groomed and dry. Or more specifically, it was dry when I started. Light hail and then thick snowfall soon began covering the trail in dampness.

Diligently, I kept my pace and neared High Camp/Vivian Creek within a couple hours. I took a brief snack break and headed up the ridge towards bump 9782 just south of Little Dobbs.

My chosen route was a standard Class 2, nothing special. Easy to find a path with minimal trees/shrubs. By the time I topped out on 9782, the snow had begun to fall harder. A good two inches had fallen by the time I reached Little Dobbs. The fresh snowy whiteness was a beautiful sight, even with the dark clouds overhead.

Excited, I took two steps west towards Dobbs. I would tag Dobbs then hopefully find my way down the West Ridge without too much of a hassle. Then my plans exploded in front of me. CHKCHAKAGCHAKBOOOOOOOOOM. A lightning bolt hit the ground not 200yd ahead of me near Dobbs, exactly where I had intended to go.

It's in the nature of wilderness trips that plans change. And so mine did. Immediately. Freaked out at being so close to the strike and suddenly feeling very exposed (though I guess the trees offered protection), I booked it back down towards the southeastern gully below as I heard a couple more close lightning/thunder combinations in the area. Dobbs would have to wait for another day. Now on my way to the car, snow continued to fall for another hour after I was back on the maintained Vivian trail.

By the time I made it down 3.5mi to the 7200' contour and creek crossing (where I would have come down from the West Ridge), the skies had cleared. I took the weather window as an opportunity to scout the West Ridge route before heading back to the car. Climbed up to 7820ft just to get a feel for the terrain. Small trees and loose dirt abound, but like Little Dobbs from Vivian, it's not too difficult to find a clear route through it either. Definitely gonna try it again in a few weeks when I'm back in LA.

(PersonalNote) As this photo shows, pointing to the N/NE from 34.087974,-116.884096, the gully is a great spot to start the West Ridge ascent. (Of course there may be better ones.)(/Personal Note)

Total trip time: 6-7hr
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5980 ft / 1822 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5980 ft / 1822 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13 mi / 20.9 km
    Grade/Class:2
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Snowing, Cool, Calm, Low Clouds
Began sunny 14C. Ended up with 2in of snow, lightning/thunder and rain coming down.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5230 ft / 1594 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4480 ft / 1366 m; Extra: 750 ft / 228m
    Loss on way in:750 ft / 228 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route:Vivian Creek; XC
    Start Trailhead:Big Falls Parking Lot  6040 ft / 1840 m
    Time:3 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5230 ft / 1594 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4480 ft / 1366 m; Extra: 750 ft / 228m
    Gain on way out:750 ft / 228 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route:Vivian Creek; XC
    End Trailhead:Big Falls Parking Lot/Vivian Creek  6040 ft / 1840 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Patrick Bergeron
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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