Ascent of San Gorgonio Mountain on 2015-04-24

Climber: Rob Anthony

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, April 24, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:San Gorgonio Mountain
    Elevation:11499 ft / 3504 m

Ascent Trip Report

Spent the night with Steve at a Quality inn in Burbank, and got up before he was up to head south to the San Bernadino National Forrest. I picked up some fruit and a Subway sandwich along the way before hitting up the Mill Creek Ranger station for the required permit and Adventures Pass. Entering the San Bernadino Forrest, the valley was misty and rain threatened. I wasn't able to park at the Vivian Creek Trailhead and hiked from the Big Falls parking lot. I got a late start at 10:30 am and knew I would need to book it to make the car again before nightfall.

The trail begins by paralleling Mill Creek. It passes a few cabins and then crosses over the creek (Do not follow the creek bed - ask me how I know!). Once you cross the creek, the trail seems to say "So, Bitch, I hear you like to climb mountains" as it it ascends steeply and quickly for the next mile to the Vivian Creek Campsite.

From here the incline is gradual to the inappropriately named "Halfway Camp." I continued through the mist up the switchbacks to "High Creek" camp, stashing a bottle of gatorade and snow melt up a rock wall on the way. Snow began to show up on the trail as I passed though 8,000 ft.

From High Creek, the trail begins another series of switchbacks. I encountered a group of hikers whom claimed I would never be able to summit and that it would take me 7 hours due to poor visibility and high winds. I told them that I only had 3 miles and 2,000 vertical feet to go, but they were insistent.

I pushed on. Determined to prove them wrong. At 10,000 ft, the trail hits a crest and you gain elevation at a moderate rate through a forest. You begin to see the summit crest. At 10,500 ft you start the final ascent to the crest and are above treeline. Going was slow. You now have ascended over 4,500 ft and hiked 8.5 miles.

At 11,200 ft you have reached the summit crest and just have a short half-mile hike to the summit. I pushed through the 1 ft deep snowfall, cursing myself for leaving my sunglasses at the car. By now, I was above the clouds and it was sunny.

I hit the summit which was incredibly windy and cold. I hunkered down behind some Boulders and signed the registrar while surveying the surrounding mountains. Visibility into the valleys was hampered by a thick fog layer at 5,000-9,000 ft. I saw an interesting peak to the South which may have been San Juacinco.

Now the fun. I began trail running to make it back to the car before dark. I made it just before sunset and managed to descend in under 3.5 hours. This was a fantastic hike. Not for the views or the technicality, but for the elevation gain, distance, and isolation. I encountered less than a dozen people on the trail today and was one of the few parties to summit. Great day!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5789 ft / 1763 m
    Extra Gain:150 ft / 45 m
    Round-Trip Distance:19 mi / 30.6 km
    Route:Vivian Trail
    Trailhead:Big Falls Trail Head   6010 ft / 1831 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Very Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 51 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 25 Minutes

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