Winter Ascent of San Gorgonio

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    • #2623
      hikinjoe
      Participant

      Hoping to do my first snow ascent of Gorgo this winter.  Any good advice from experienced hikers about when to climb, which equipment to bring, etc. would be incredibly helpful and greatly appreciated.

       

      Thanks in advance!

      • This topic was modified 2 years ago by hikinjoe.
    • #2625
      Ed
      Participant

      Snow conditions are wildly variable, and unpredictable at  this time.  You can be sure of five things: that winter days are short; that it will be cold, at least at night and at higher altitudes; that snow presents problems with traction and flotation; that winter is the stormy season in Southern California; and that a winter storm high on SG is a very serious matter.  One day, two or three?  North side or south side?  Early, mid, or late winter?  All are important variables.  Ranger Dave used to give advice on winter ascents on this forum.  If you don’t have snow experience, it would be better to gain experience with trips less ambitious than a full ascent of SG.  If you don’t have snow training, a one-day snow travel course.

      • This reply was modified 2 years ago by Ed.
    • #2636
      hikinjoe
      Participant

      I am assuming that an ascent via Vivian creek is probably the safest for several reason (terrain, familiarity, distance). I think I would like to try it on a day that is clear, or at least no precipitation, but has snow on the ground and is cold. I’m guessing snow shoes would be a necessity up high where the snow is deep, but thinking it’s probably safe as long as we know how to use an ice axe.

    • #2637
      beantown
      Participant

      you should get some winter experience or take a winter travel course prior to trying san g in the winter.  The best route is up the north face from south fork.  Vivian you will not be able to follow a trail, so you need to navigate.  snow shoes suck for winter conditions, you will just sink in the powder, and its steep off trail up hill, not fun.  skis or a splitboard is the best option for traveling over snow, most of the day up, then fast descent down.  then you need to know about avy conditions.  the southern aspect of Vivian will melt and refreeze so then you need crampons and ice ax.  going up the north face is direct and easy to navigate and if there is snow all the way to the parking lot that’s an added bonus.  beware the top of the north face can get wind stripped and firm/icy at the rollover at the top.  ive done both day and overnight trips in winter to san g.

    • #2639
      Ed
      Participant

      Skis are great for skiers.  Faster and more fun downhill, better for traversing steep slopes, about the same as snowshoes for level and uphill.  But you should be a strong intermediate skier, able to ski safely, confidently and under control under a wide variety of conditions, including soft snow.  Snowshoes are best for most people.  They can be used with nearly any footwear that is otherwise suitable for the trip, and they don’t require prior instruction and practice.

    • #2640
      RangerDave
      Participant

      Hello HIKINJOE, Ranger Dave here.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been on here, or up on the trails for that matter.  Not much of a winter for the past couple of seasons so it just didn’t interest me much.  I saw my name mentioned so I thought I would chime in.  After reading your post JOE I think I can determine that you don’t have any winter experience, am I correct?  Okay, so doing Gorgonio in the winter is a serious climb and not to be taken lightly.  Sure, it can be a nice warm and sunny hike with no gear necessary, OR, it can be life or death.  I’ve been winter climbing for 12 years and have some crazy experiences that have taught me plenty.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I know a lot, so let me tell you here that you are not ready to climb Gorgonio in the winter, not yet.  You talked about maybe needing snow shoes and ice axe?  Uh ya, you sure do, but you need to know how to use them, properly, and have practiced.  You mentioned that Vivian is a safe trail with an ice axe, WRONG!  No trail should ever be considered SAFE.  What is safe?  Okay, the Hollywood sign trail is SAFE.  You want to climb 9 miles up in to the mountains, in the winter, in the snow, it’s not SAFE.  But, it can be done safely if you know what you’re doing?  That also means knowing when to turn around if it doesn’t look right?  There is so much to go over that I just can’t do it all here, so, if you’re willing to give me your phone number here I will call you personally?

      Ranger Dave out.

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