Ski Mountaineering

San Gorgonio Wilderness, solo snow ski camp, 3/22-23, 2019

May Adachi

I was away for a week to New England, where it was freezing, returning 3/16, so was hankering to get into the snow before I got Califoria-ized, again, & would be cold. And I was never cold up there on the mountain! I wore hiking boots from the S Fork TH. Wore them till closer to Poopout hill. Then changed to ski skinning gear & took off, up, from Poopout to Alto Diablo.

Starting mid morning, I had to scrape my skins & try some wax a couple times as snow was clumping, but well before I reached the ridge, snow was no longer sticking. Not a soul around. One ski track down below near Poopout, but that had petered out. No ski track, no footprint up on the San Bernardino trail. T shirt weather. Halted at Alto Diablo for a bite, & to look at the map. Then skied towards Dollar lake saddle. Above Red Rock flat, I took a break, & realized I'd dropped my map & water bottle somewhere along the way along the ridge. So I left my pack & retraced by track. I never found my missing items. I ended up all the way back at Alto Diablo! I must have missed them in the snow, or they'd slid down a slope.

This jaunt turned out to be my leisure hour of touring without heavy pack; it was late afternoon, anyway. Time to get a camping! I got back to my pack. Checked it again; map & water bottle were there, stuck inside, not in the outside pocket where I thought I'd returned them. I moved on crossing the only track of the afternoon's, a rabbit's. Then on, almost to Red Rock flat. Big snow drifts. First a leisurely dinner while it was still light & warm. Coffee & cous cous. Set up camp. Then a sunset tour further along the ridge just to look down on Dollar lake saddle. To bed. So cozy, a windless, soft night, sleeping in my tent with a cushion of snow underneath.

Saturday a.m., I started for the saddle, but determined, since it was still shady there, my best descent would be from where I camped. The slope was sunny; there were trees, but it was open. I descended, with a lot of traverse movement. Once down, well above Dollar lake, I deposited my pack, had coffee & breakfast, & make 1 yo ascent up near the ridge, again, & descended, skiing more freely without the pack. Snow was nice. I could make some turns!

I then traversed back towards Poopout, staying well above the trail, which was trampled, or bare. It was very pleasant, just gliding along! Then it was back to hiking boots. So glad I had them.

NE ridge, San Jacinto, a hike with rattle snakes, crampons & car theft, 4/12-13, 2019

May and Aysel

On the second day, when nearly reaching the San Jacinto tram station, almost 3p.m., we did run into a couple who'd skied San Jacinto that afternoon: "skiable, slushy", they'd said. We, Aysel Gezik, & I, hadn't skied. We started, 8:30a.m. on a Friday, at the visitor center just at the start of the tram road off highway 111. It wasn't even hot, but grasses were tall, & yellow flowers abounded. The grasses were sticking to Aysel's pants. We were traversing across the desert, parallel to 111, about to head up the ridge that would take us to the snow, hopefully, & San J. Personally, I didn't care if I reached the peak or not; I just wanted to reach snow (& then the ridge), as we were each carrying less than 3 litres of water.

We stopped, so Aysel could put on gaiters, to keep off the grasses. We started to ascend. I was feeling allergic to the flowers, something I hadn't felt since childhood. So many blooms. Then Aysel was warned by a rattler. I walked way around. I couldn't even see it. Next I was warned by another. Aysel pointed it out to me. Next up, or was it in between? Aysel narrowly missed stepping on a nest with 2 nestlings in it built on the ground. They were no more than 1 week old. Quick, fly away, nestlings, before a rattler can eat you! Lovely orange, rose like bushes, shocking ping cactus blooms. Out of this world. The higher we got, the more dramatically gorgeous was the terrain, but the going was so slow; the tram cable, highway 10, highway 111, the wind generators, something was always in view. And Aysel had 1 injured wrist in a bandana the whole time.

The higher we got the more scrambling we were doing, & her with 1 usable hand. Up & down the ridge we went, by the end gaining over 9.5K', after starting at some 600', & in the end, never reaching San J. Not a worry for me. We didn't even reach snow before we made camp at 7pm, at about 7K'. For dinner, I made due with a small cup of coffee & a breakfast bar; I needed to save some water for the morning ahead.

Saturday a.m., we started up at 630a.m.; it wasn't even cold. By 9a.m., we were at snow, & could melt some for tea for breakfast; we stopped to melt snow once again to have water to drink for the rock scrambly climb. Finally, we got to the ridge, midday, & put on crampons for a while until we got down to the Round valley trail, & headed to the tram. After a leisurely cous cous, coffee & tea late lunch on the deck of the tram station we got rode down, drove to a farewell party for friends who live at Whitewater, & I left to drive home.

Aysel stayed on & got a lift back, Sunday night, with another friend, to her car, left at the Fairplex park n ride, only there was no car waiting. Stolen! But Pomona police located it & the thief the next day, Monday, sans a duffle bag full of yoga clothes, etc., & reeking of "drugs", whose smell a fancy car wash could not dispel!

See trip pictures below (click for larger images):

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