Mike and Arthur had attempted this climb a few weeks ago with their friend Adam, and I think the story goes that they got a late start 'cuz it was a little windy at 4 a.m. so no one got out of their sleeping bags...
So when Mike mentioned that they had rescheduled their trip for this past weekend, I saw that I also had a "free weekend" and asked if I could come along. (Actually, it was more like: "Can I come, huh? Can I? Can I? Can I? :roll: ) The added bonuses included taking Friday off and Kurt's group hike up the Baldy bowl, which I hadn't gotten to do before moving up north. I've never taken the same approach to Baldy's summit, and I think I just have the north (from Wrightwood) and west approaches (from Iron) left; it's also never been particularly windy when I've been up there. Hmmm... :shock:
As soon as we got back in cell range from Baldy, we got a call from Arthur (DoogieMan) that he was already in Mentone. So we boogied back to the Mell-pad, upacked day packs, loaded up overnight packs, threw them in the Truck of Fun (TOF) and cruised the 210 on out to Redlands for dinner and hittin' the South Fork TH. We packed in about 4 miles or so to the South Fork Meadows area and crashed for the night.
I don't remember it being this cold when I snow camped last year, in fact it wasn't that cold when I snow camped last year. :roll: I shivered all night, and I have to figure out why. Workin' on it. Anyway, "all" we were doing on Saturday was moving camp up to the edge of the Big Draw, so around 11 a.m. (Piotrowski start!!) we loaded up and headed into the gulleys. Mike broke a lot of trail, I tried my hand at it a few times as well. The snow had a crust, then powder underneath, so snow shoes all the way. We made camp at the NW corner of the Big Draw, around 9800ft.
We were up (grudgingly!) at 4 a.m. [well, Mike and I were up. Arthur's "alarm didn't go off" ] and hit it by 5:15 or so, climbing up to the north ridge of Jepson Peak. The snow was mostly firm and crusty, with a few powder spots, but Arthur cut some of the prettiest switchers I've ever seen, and we were on top of the ridge before the sun rose.
We had to resurrect the ancient art of tree wrestling a few times along the ridge, but the snow for the most part was really good, and we were able to stay on top for most of the route. I asked Arthur if he wanted a break, and then he let me lead! Woohoo!
By 8 a.m. or so we were on the summit, and although a bit breezy, it was glorious! Wonderful views in all directions, and we could just barely make out the Southern Sierra in the distance. I was so happy to be over 11K again!
Following the ridge around to the east, we headed for Gorgonio. As we came down from Jepson, the wind died, and the sun warmed us up. The wind had carved beautiful crusts into the snow, and the patina of the reflecting sun was brilliant up there.
Of course, I was just happy to bask in the sun for my moment of bliss:
We summited Gorgonio, had lunch, then headed back down to the NW ridge of the Big Draw. The original plan had been to drop into one of the chutes, find a clear spot, and glissade down into the bowl. Unfortunately, we overshot the good chutes, but when we walked down we found that the conditions were icey-dicey enough and it might've been an interesting glissade. We marched across the bowl back to camp, packed up, and cruised out. The powder snow in the gulleys allowed for some great snowshoe gliding on the descent!
I drove home to Bishop later that evening with a HUGE grin on my face (after dinner at Slim Piggin's of course!!) . Thanks to Mike and Arthur for a great time and lettin' me tag along. Y'all have a pretty nice backyard down there...
Rest of the pics are here: http://flickr.com/photos/moosepics621/s ... 893577613/
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