March 27, 2016 at 1:49 pm #79776
Jeff HesterKeymaster15,508 points
Just hiked San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek yesterday with Greg Glass. This was 90% hiking and 10% mountaineering.
Note that the Vivian Creek Trailhead parking is “closed for the season.” We had to park about 1/4 mile west at Big Falls.
The first switchbacks up to Vivian Creek camp were clear of snow and ice. Most of Vivian Creek was also free from snow and ice, with the exception of patches. We hiked without micro-spikes.
As you ascend the trail above Halfway Camp, you begin to encounter larger sections of snow. In the early morning, this was frozen over and icy. We used micro-spikes and trekking poles.
Once we reached High Creek, it was time to don the crampons, helmet and take out the ice axe. This was frozen crust, deep snow that will likely stick around for quite a while. Once we reached the top of the ridge, we switched back to micro-spikes and trekking poles, which were adequate for the remainder of the trail to the summit.
On the way back down, the snow softened on the slope down to High Creek, and we were able to glissade and/or duck walk our way straight down, saving a lot of time. Be careful of the conditions. If it’s too slick, you’ll go too fast and there are plenty of trees, rocks and other obstacles to impale yourself on.
Here’s a link to my GaiaGPS data for this trip. It shows that we travelled 18.6 miles.
Note that these conditions were specific to Saturday, March 26 2016. We (hopefully) will get more storms this spring, which means more snow. Unless you’re prepared to do some mountaineering, plan on waiting until June to tackle this one.
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