Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sugarloaf Ridge

Hiked: 9/6/2013
Distance: 3 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 6291' (highest point reached)
Elevation Gain: 1334'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.06
Round trip time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Recommended water: 64 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

I persuaded Rod and Terry to come with me on this trip intending to climb Sugarloaf Peak (San Gabriels), which I ended up doing solo two weeks later. Terry was up for some rock climbing, and this should have been a short, steep trip. However, I led us off the trail too soon and instead of starting up Falling Rock Canyon, we started up the right side ridge above the canyon. We figured it out after a couple of hundred feet, but compounded our mistake by deciding to continue up the ridge. It didn't look worse than class 3.

Starting out

Hey, we're not in the canyon

This doesn't look so bad

On we go...

The ridge is a lot steeper than the canyon. The dirt sections could be tricky and the rock was mostly rotten. We didn't have helmets and we kept knocking rocks on top of each other. Each small rock slide would continue for at least 100 feet, and some of the rocks we dislodged were 20+ pounds. Sometimes we pulled big sections of rock off what appeared to be solid slabs. At around 6300', half way up the ridge, we started approaching what looked like sections of class 4 and combined with the rotten rock, convinced us to descend.

Traversing to stay next to the canyon

The rock looks good, but it can't be trusted

Rod scrambles up some loose rocks and dirt

Looking back

Where we turned back

The down climb was slow and we had to space out a lot, making sure each person below was in a safe location before the next one descended creating the inevitable slide. At one point, my Garmin etrex GPS was knocked loose and it tumbled like a rock more than 100' before disappearing over a 20' cliff. I found it later scratched but working perfectly. Go Garmin! We all had fun, but all left blood on the ridge.

Terry's souvenir

My souvenir

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