Snow Creek Route conditions

General Palm Springs area.

Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby javang76 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:16 pm

Hi all

Does anyone have recent information on the conditions of the Snow Creek route? Does it have good snow or ice? Any information is deeply appreciated.

Cheers
J
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Re: Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby Ed » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:48 am

I am sure there is plenty of snow. I would be concerned about avalanche danger.

If nobody can provide you with recent information (i.e., since the last storm), my advice is the following. Wait another week or two for the snow to settle and consolidate. Hike from the tram station to the summit, and check out the snow at the upper end of the route. Perhaps read the section on avalanche danger in Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills before the scout.

I know this seems like a lot of trouble. But I climbed Snow Creek once in April, not long after a storm. We thought the route was safe because it had avalanched. Several hundred feet below the ridge, we found the avalanche had started there, not at the ridge. We were in soft snow up to our thighs, with two of the worst signs of avalanche danger, rivulets of snow sliding down and balls of snow rolling down. It was truly scary. I remember thinking, you don't want your postmortem to be 'Killed by an avalanche within sight of Palm Springs'.
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Re: Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby javang76 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:12 am

Thanks for the detailed description, Ed. Being new to that side of the mountain (have done a bunch of climbs, including the C2C), I would like to know when is a good time to attempt the climb. Given the current snow conditions, is mid April / early June a reasonable guess?
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Re: Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby Ed » Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:01 pm

Perhaps mid-April, but that is nothing but a wild guess. So much depends on whether there is another storm, how much melting there is due to warm weather, etc. Hopefully you will receive information from someone who has done the route recently.
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Re: Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby cynthia23 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:10 pm

It really is technical alpine mountaineering and the approach is only semi-legal--due to restrictions of the DWA you have to take a lengthy and complex bushwhacking scramble up a side ridge or you will get arrested. They do watch and monitor the area quite carefully. That detour (which btw is through an area heavily infested with rattlesnakes) adds on several hours to an already thirteen plus hours. One of the reasons they made access to it illegal and/or difficult is that it's extremely dangerous. It is not comparable at all to C2C which after all is a trail. Snow Creek is said to be orders of magnitude more difficult. Due to its many complexities you should only attempt this with someone else who has already done it. Snow Creek is serious mountaineering. I have never done it and even at my fittest would not have attempted it. Ed is right that the avalanche danger is quite significant. I am told by those who have done it numerous times that June is usually too late to do it because the snow has melted and it requires climbing a giant chockstone and vertical miles of scree. My best advice is to find someone who has already done it and wants to do it again with you. Everyone I know who did it teamed up with an experienced Snow Creeker. IMHO it's much too dangerous to try without that person on your team.
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Re: Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby pkirkham » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:02 am

Cynthia23 is quite right! I did Snow Creek with experienced mountaineering friends in May 2007. It was my first time using crampons and an ice axe! Thank god they knew where we were going regarding route finding etc. We did it an as over-nighter, camping on some rock slabs commonly called the 'ledges', about half way up. We needed a rope to get around the chockstone and higher up the next morning when it started to get icy. There had been significant previous avalanches in the gullies with a lot of debris evident. Personally, it was an awesome experience as a first-time alpinist....it gave me a real taste of adventure and has led to many more successful, and some unsuccessful, summits of higher mountains since. It definitely is NOT Skyline or C2C, which I have done in all conditions, many times. There are many navigational decisions that need to be made when climbing Snowcreek that only experienced people know how to correctly make. Timing definitely is of the essence. When we went in May '07 it was also a high snow year. That being said, the chockstone was snow-free, requiring rock climbing the slabs to the right of it and the lower snow tongue was starting to melt out above it with significant danger posed by moats etc. Having the technical knowledge and skill-set to manage these objective dangers/hazards, or with at least one person in the party who has these skills, is a MUST!!
Having said all that, it is quite the alpine experience in our backyard that, if conditions are right, and the right people are present, make for an unforgettable experience!!
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Re: Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby Ed » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:37 pm

For a sobering account of an accident on the Snow Creek route in 1993, see the below. Note that it happened to someone who is said to have climbed the route so many times he lost count. And the narrator, his climbing partner and son-in-law, had done it three times.

http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Photos_Snocreek.htm

But also note that the same accident could have occurred on any moderately steep snow slope.
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Re: Snow Creek Route conditions

Postby Cy Kaicener » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:37 am

In 2009 Anne Japenga wrote an article for Palm Springs Life Magazine about the North Face of Mt San Jacinto which was excellent but has been taken off line. Here is a link to the magazine
https://www.palmspringslife.com/publishers-letter-6/

Here is a link to her book -- Extreme San Jacinto with a great cover photo
https://www.palmspringslife.com/product ... softbound/

Debate over access to Mt San Jacinto North Face - includes video
http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/env ... /15990019/
. Please visit my website at www.hiking4health.com for more information especially the Links.
http://cys-hiking-adventures.blogspot.com
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