First visit to Mt. San Jacinto

General Palm Springs area.

First visit to Mt. San Jacinto

Postby Newmountaineer » Thu Dec 28, 2006 3:29 pm

I'm from Orange County and have never been to Mount San Jacinto beyond driving past it on my way to palm springs. I am also new to mountaineering and want to try out some new clothes/gear. At this point, I'm not concerned with summiting per se, I just want to add to my experience in the snow with boots, hiking polls and crampons. How is the best way to approach San Jacinto? Can I take the tram up with my mountaineering gear? Once at the top, are the signs pretty clearly marked in terms of trails? Which trail or trails begin at the top of the tram? Lastly, what are the most recent conditions at the top of the tram in terms of snow/ice? Thanks a bunch!
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Postby Vadosian » Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:32 pm

Hello Newmountaineer,

First, give me a quick inventory of your outdoor equipment. This way I can give you my opinion of what to purchase as far as essential stuff.

In my opinion, Mt. San Jacinto in the winter can be a little technical, but mostly a snowfield type of accent, meaning kicking steps and plunging your ice axe or ski poles into the slope for additional support. We rarely need to rope up like on other peaks which have glaciation. The North Face of SJ is, in my opinion, a true mountaineering trip, but that's a different story.

The P.S Tram will usually allow you to carry whatever gear that you have in your possession. You only have to take it off when you enter the tram car. Be careful if you have an ice axe and make sure you have some rubber guards for the business ends of your axe! They usually pack the cars with the max amount of people just like a sardine can!

During the summer, the trails are clearly marked, but in winter, if you are one of the first visitors to crunch the snow, for instance, up to Round Valley, you had better know orienteering skills. But, usually a well tamped down trail exists all the way up there to Round Vly.

I hope you enjoy your trip up the mountain - have fun, be safe!

Jim
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Postby Vadosian » Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:33 pm

Hello Newmountaineer,

First, give me a quick inventory of your outdoor equipment. This way I can give you my opinion of what to purchase as far as essential stuff.

In my opinion, Mt. San Jacinto in the winter can be a little technical, but mostly a snowfield type of accent, meaning kicking steps and plunging your ice axe or ski poles into the slope for additional support. We rarely need to rope up like on other peaks which have glaciation. The North Face of SJ is, in my opinion, a true mountaineering trip, but that's a different story.

The P.S Tram will usually allow you to carry whatever gear that you have in your possession. You only have to take it off when you enter the tram car. Be careful if you have an ice axe and make sure you have some rubber guards for the business ends of your axe! They usually pack the cars with the max amount of people just like a sardine can!

During the summer, the trails are clearly marked, but in winter, if you are one of the first visitors to crunch the snow, for instance, up to Round Valley, you had better know orienteering skills. But, usually a well tamped down trail exists all the way up there to Round Vly.

I hope you enjoy your trip up the mountain - have fun, be safe!

Jim
Vadosian
 
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Location: Cherry Valley

Postby Vadosian » Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:39 pm

I apologize that my post was doubled.

Everyone, have a great and happy new years!

Jim
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Postby Newmountaineer » Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:55 pm

Went today via the tram. Temp was cool with mild winds but not too bad. The trail was very well marked all the way to the summit cabin. My fiance was brave enough to come with me and she and I cut the trail for the last 100 or so yards to the top. What a day! I know it's not the hardest trail to the summit but it was quite an accomplishment for the two of us. I wore crampons a good portion of the way although they weren't absolutely necessary (my fiance just had leather hiking boots and made it fine w/ just a few slips - nothing serious as she has excellent balance).

There was 100% snow coverage from the tram all the way up. Before Round Valley it was only about 6 inches or so and somewhat firm as we hit the trail around 8:45. After round valley it was a bit deeper but not too bad unless you broke trail. The last 100 yards to the summit we postholed to our knees until the boulders on top.

Quite a mix of emotions: pride, exhaustion and awe at the beauty up there. This was the highest I'd ever been so it was a real experience all around. I'll post some pictures tomorrow, after I get a good night's rest. :D
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Postby Yichus » Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:55 am

Hi, NM:

Congratulations on making it to the summit! It must have been an awesome hike. And thanks for the great trip report.

Have a great New Year everyone!!!!

Peace.

Rob
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Postby KathyW » Sun Dec 31, 2006 7:16 pm

Congrats on making the summit - It's not an easy hike when there's snow out there.
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