Monday, May 19, 2008

Jepson via Northeast Chute

Southern California's Hidden Treasure
May 17, 2008

Trip Stats:
Roundtrip Distance: About 18 miles
Gain: 4500'
Time: 12 hours roundtrip
Starting Trailhead: South Fork, San Gorgonio
Difficulties: 30-35 degree snow, off-trail bushwhacking, a long day
Highlights: Snow climbing in Southern California

To get ourselves 12 hours of sunlight, we departed from LA at around 4am. After arriving at South Fork, we proceeded up the long trail to Dry Lake. No snow to be found on the trail - summer was here.

After Dry Lake, we continued along the trail paralleling the draw before Trail Camp. We met a fellow who had turned around because of the snow after Mineshaft saddle. After exchanging plesantries, we continued on trail until the trail started to turn East, at which point we left the trail to approach Jepson Peak.

Given that we needed to teach one of our crew how to self arrest and kick steps and the like, we chose the NE area of Jepson next to the west flanks of San Gorgonio. The bowl provides a number of good teaching slopes, and a variety of chutes to then climb, as you can see in the photo above.

Snow school was kept brief, and we kicked our way up one of the more easterly chutes of Jepson's flanks. Here is Roy cresting the top:

Once above the snow gully, we continued on the ridge to Jepson proper.

Surface snow conditions continued to worsen throughout the day. Early on (10am) foot penetration was negligible, but later after our glissade (2:30pm) we were sinking in knee-deep. Here is Wags next to some late-season snow formations:

But we eventually escaped the slush to trek back downhill, dreaming of burritos. All in all, a great trip. You can also view the rest of my photos from the excursion.

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