Ascent of Krotona Hill on 2017-04-17

Climber: David Comerzan

Date:Monday, April 17, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Krotona Hill
    Elevation:900 ft / 274 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a private hike with George Christiansen and Pat Vaughn. The purpose of this hike was to pick up a couple of HPS peaks that had been delisted due to it being an active shooting area and extreme brush. They are also on the Ventura List of peaks. We started the hike at the intersection of Cherry Creek Road and Highway 33, about 24 miles north of Ojai. There is a gate; however, we discovered after we hiked the road, the chain was just laying on top. We could have opened the gate and driven in about 3 miles, but then it could have been locked when we came out and we needed the exercise.
We started south on the road hiking south as it followed Cherry Creek. It was a pleasant walk, with a gain of about 800’ to a point of 4900’ altitude. At about 3 miles from the car we came across a clearing on the left (east) side of the road with a fire ring and a fire break going east up the slope. We were following Bob Burd’s description of this hike to Ortega Hill. He warned us it was bushy and he wasn’t wrong. It was only about 3/10th of a mile to the summit, but it took us an hour and 5 minutes to reach it. We followed the fire break up about 200 yards where it abruptly ended. We pushed our way through brush to what looked an old use trail. This went well to 5100’ and again we lost all semblance of a trail. From this point, it was mainly pushing our way through and over chest high brush. We headed generally in a northern direction. We finally reached the high point where we found a register with a few signatures including many HPS hikers. Most of this was done before it was delisted. We did see Bob’s signature in 2011. Added to the fun of this hike was a light mist we were hiking in which made the brush and us soaking wet. After signing in we headed down, again push our way down to the road.
On the road, we rested a bit and licked our wounds, hoping Ortega Peak would not be the same brush heap. We continued on the road where in a short distance we came across the remains of an old gate. At this point the road turns into a motorbike trail. We hike this trail for about a mile to the start of the trail to Ortega Peak. We were following Valarie Norton’s GPS track to this peak. We had a little trouble finding the start of the trail. We went past it about a quarter mile then back where we found the cairn marking the start of the trail. Compared to Ortega Hill, this use trail was like a 4 lane highway. We had no problem following it to the summit. Starting at 5300’, it rose to 5700’ in a quarter of a mile, and then flattens out rising more gently to the summit at 5854’. The most difficult part came at the last ½ mile. It followed a knife edge ridge, with a drop off of about 200-300 feet on one side and impregnable brush on the other. The use trail went along this edge. Fortunately, it was a soft sandy soil with no hard surface beneath. This
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allows you to make steps as you walk along. It is not for the faint of heart. On the summit, we found a register, again with most of the signature before being delisted. After taking in the spectacular views, we returned the same way. Being the true Peakbagger we are, after the Ortega’s, we did a couple Peakbagger peaks in the area. The first one was a short hike, Horseshoe Benchmark. The other, Krotona Hill, was a drive up.
One of my reasons for this hike was to evaluate whether these peaks should be considered for putting back on the list. As far as the shooting issue, we did see a lot of shells. However, they looked old and weathered. We didn’t see any evidence of recent shooting. When we were on the trail, we were the only ones. It would probably be best to check with Ojai Ranger Station about encouraging hikers in that area. As far as Ortega Hill, I wouldn’t do that peak unless I had an army of about 30 people with clippers to make a trail. The views just are not worth the trouble of getting there. Ortega Peak on the other hand, is well worth the hike to the summit. While walking the knife edge ridge, at times we were able to drop slightly off the edge to what use to be a use trail. With a little clipping, could be made into a safe use trail. Anyway, these are my thoughts.
8:35 am Depart. 4140’
9:45 am Depart for Ortega Hill. 4900’
10:50 am Ortega Hill Summit. 5317’
11:45 am Back on road.
12:55 pm Depart for Ortega Peak. 5300’
2:15 pm Ortega Peak Summit. 5854’
3:20 pm Back on the rod.
3:55 pm Car. 12 miles round trip, 2300’ gain, 7 hours, 20 minutes.
5:25 pm Depart. 2293’
5:40 pm Horseshoe BM Summit. 2399’
5:50 pm Car. ½ mile round trip, 100’ gain, 25 minutes.
6:20 pm Krotona Hill Summit. 900’ Drive up
Total for the day: 12 ½ miles round trip, 2400’ gain, 7 hours, 45 minutes

Summary Total Data

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