Monday, March 16, 2009

Bighorn Peak

Saturday Cary and I tried out our new crampons on Bighorn Peak in the San Gabriel mountain range. I was still feeling under the weather with a nagging cold on it's tenth day of inception. Not sure if I was going to complete the climb I woke up at 4:45 am and got ready to head out. Cary and I met up at San Antonio park just off Mountain Ave in Upland. From there we carpooled up to Icehouse Canyon. We hit the trail around 6:50, as the sun was slowing making the trail visible we were eagerly awaiting putting on our crampons to start our ascent. It is important that you climb early in the morning so that the snow is still hard/icy so that the crampons could be effectively used. By mid day on a sunny day the snow could become mushy and make for a very difficult climb up.

Around 8:30 we started to hit snow and ice. We put on our crampons and hiked up the canyon following the the steam. Around 10 we hit the base of Bighorn Peak. It was here we started to climb using the cross over step. This is a climbing technique that makes climbing steep slopes alot easier. Along with the cross over step we traversed back and forth for about 2 hours until we reached the summit. The climb was steep enough to make me forget about being a little sick which was nice, it also made Cary and I forget about being tired. Once climbing all my focus was traversing, the cross over step and navigation. Once we reached the summit it was a relief, I thought it was going to be a false summit and we were going to have to climb another 500 feet or so. The summit stands at 8400 feet. We found the register (which made Cary happy) and found that not no one had signed it since Feb 2. Our buddy David from WTC had signed it last. We didn't see anyone climbing the peak or surrounding peaks, we had it all to ourselves! On the summit we had a stunning view of Ontario, Timber, Telegraph, Baldy, and other peaks. We were above the clouds. Words, or my lack of writing ability can't describe the feeling I get summiting and eating lunch on the summit. Cary was pretty excited as well, he has climbed Timber, Ontario and now Bighorn in three consecutive weeks!

On our way down the snow was starting to get punchy which made going down alot easier. I tracked our route on my GPS, check out below on the google map. You can also download the file and view it in google earth. Overall, the climb was great. I am feeling more and more confident on snow and ice in preparation for Rainier in June. I do, however, know that I have alot more to learn and experience, specifically with navigation and dealing with extreme weather.


Start: 6:50 (Icehouse Canyon)

Summit: 12:00

Return: 3:20

Elevation Start: 5,000 ft

Summit: 8,400 ft

Total Elevation: 3,400 feet

Mileage: 5.5 miles


archipelago said...

Wow that's so cool that you found the register and recognized the name of the last person to sign it. I know you love the summits. I like that first shot of you and Cary--did you have to use a tripod?

vontetzel said...

nope cary used his mad skills to balance his camera on a log. good times!

Holly said...

I'm so totally amazed that you can do that climbing, particularly when you're sick! I would have been whiney baby in the car under a blanket! The fotos are great - all that snow right here in SoCal :-)

Kentucky said...

U b bad ass

CalBadger said...

Your comment about wanting to start your climb early to avoid softening and melting snow is right on: One of the biggest problems the climbers on Mt. Hood that had that horrendous accident was that the snow became too soft and unstable! By the way, your write very of these times you might spend some ink on further explanations of those climbing moves you mentioned...hey! even a brief demonstration on video would be awesome!

vontetzel said...

note: all those photos were taken by cary.

pops, good idea i will try that!