Yesterday (Sunday), Marilyn and I summited West San Bernardino peak. The TH was icy so we decided to don microspikes just to get to the trail
I was having my usual issues with my previously frost bitten hands (the screaming barkies), so we put them on in her Lexus AWD with the heater blasting. Also started out wearing puffies -- it took a while to warm up.
On Saturday, hardy souls from the San Jacinto hiking club had braved the cold/wind and broke in the trail up past the Limber Pine bench. I re-discovered how just a wee bit of snow slows down progress. At the wooden bench, we were passed by two guys who were attempting their first summit of San Bernardino peak. Fortunately, they were prepared for the conditions. A few switchbacks up the trail, Marilyn and I started going cross country up the left side of the ridge. This is our usual winter route -- in the summer there's too much brush.
Once on the ridge proper, we donned snowshoes for the climb up and used our televators. At about 9500 ft, we entered an enchanted forest of rime ice -- it covered trees, shrubs, rocks and deadfall.
As the climb became steeper, the snow became icier
Like many climbs up ridges or chutes, it became very steep towards the top. I noticed that I was trembling due to fear -- I haven't been in icy snow for a while. As usual, Miracle Marilyn was unflappable, though she did note dryly "It's a bit steep."
We finally topped out on the San Bernardino divide ridge. What an E-ticket hike -- exhilarating and exhausting. I have never seen such incredible rime ice -- fantastic and frightening. Huge sheets of ice were poised to drop like hatchets.
We continued on to West San Bernardino peak and were treated to this:
We were the first to reach this summit since the ice/snow storm. I did not touch the summit box, as I feared my hands would freeze to the box. Also, no one "double dog dared" me (for classic movie fans such as Arocknoid, this is a reference to an event in "A Christmas Story.")
After a short lunch, we headed down, taking great care in the steep/icy section. It was a relief to escape the "Frozen" zone unscathed. As we neared the end of the XC route, a trail runner in Katohla crampons passed us. He had taken the main trail just past Limber Pine spring, then headed up the side of the ridge when the trail disappeared. He saw our route coming down from the summit and followed it down. The runner noted the two fellows who had passed us went up a steep gully.
Once we rejoined the trail, it was just a matter of staying warm on the descent. We got back to Marilyn's vehicle at 4 PM -- in total, it took us 5 hours to reach the peak and 3 1/2 hours to descend. The two fellows finished right as we were leaving -- they noted that it was a brutal climb and had used their crampons and ice axes. Enjoyed yummy burgers at the Oaks before heading home.
Miles of smiles,