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Cascade Cyn to Turtle's Beak to Ontario Pk

Henry wanted to do the Rabbit Peak epic. But I convinced him that, in my current condition, Rabbit might possibly murder me and leave my body as a meal for desert scavengers. So instead we agreed on Cascade Canyon to Ontario Peak.

At 4:30am we owned the Icehouse Canyon parking lot, where Henry dropped his car and rode with me down to Barrett-Stoddard. By 5:30 we had already strolled up the fire road to Cascade Canyon and were now waiting for sunrise to begin the scrambling portion of the day.

Henry and I sat down on the road. He had some breakfast, a Vietnamese sandwich and hot tea. And I peeled a banana. A little after six, we stepped into the canyon.

In a previous report I described the trip through Cascade to Turtle's Beak in some detail. So here I'll highlight only a few things and move on.

First, there is a substantial dryfall around elevation 5600', which can be bypassed via a class 3 ledge along the left.

Immediately after this dryfall, we exited the canyon floor and began up the slope on the right. There were some usable animal tracks, but the going was steep with loose scree. Soon the amazing, colorful rock formations emerged out of the mountainside.

Henry mostly preferred a gully between the formations, while I stuck mostly to a prominent, rocky rib on the left, which I'm calling Polychrome Ridge.

My particular course ended up being class 4, but easier and harder ways are available.

Polychrome hits the parent ridge about five hundred feet west of Turtle's Beak summit (6857'), where I placed a register and plush toy.

After a snack and a bit of rest, it was almost 10am and time to take on the ridge to Ontario Peak.

We scrambled down the northeast side of the Beak.

Beyond the first saddle we instantly realized that the local buckthorn very much detested our presence.

I managed to stumble into the vicious heart of this hell and emerge with a thorn buried in my forearm.

Like a delusional psychotic, I spent the next several minutes digging fingernails into and peeling back my skin, trying desperately to remove the embedded plant-weapon. Neither Henry nor I had a pair of tweezers.

Finally the thorn-tip came out and the pain subsided. I cursed my lack of preparation for such an event and washed out the wound as best as I could.

Usually I carry several first aid items, including tweezers. But I had recently emptied out my pack to wash it and then stupidly forgot to put everything back inside.

I, however, have no real explanation for continuing to bushwhack in cargo shorts. Perhaps a deep, dark part of me enjoys torturing my shins and involuntarily cursing in pain every time the thorns get the better of me.

Anyway, we survived the first wave of thorns. Then a second one, all while ploughing up the steep ridge. After two hours of following crappy and inconsistent animal trails through heavy and evil brush, we finally reached the comfort of a nicely forested slope.

The ridge also developed attractive rock formations.

And views of Baldy.

Getting over and around the rocks provided some needed fun after the painful thorn experience. And most of the remaining ridge climbed at a pleasant, easier grade, with plenty of trees for breaks in the shade.

About three-quarters of a mile from the peak, Ontario's summit came into clear view.

And by 2:30pm we were eating lunch at the top, while another hiker entertained us by monkeying around on the dead tree up there.


Great trip and report. It all looked like fun until the ridge to Ontario.

Google earth shows two bumps on the beak. Which one is the summit?

Also, how did you get down from Ontario?

The Beak's east bump is slightly higher. It's covered in large, red boulders. A metal post stands among these rocks.

The west bump is covered in small, white rocks. It offers a rough campsite.

As for Ontario's SW Ridge. . .

After dropping to the 6600' saddle off of the Beak, there is about 1200' of gain through dense buckthorn and manzanita -- and also some spore-spraying plant that tried to suffocate me with its particulates. This stretch is seldomly mitigated by poor use paths and boulders.

I believe Mark (Turtle) mostly managed to avoid the initial 400' of this mess by following animal trails west of the spine. Henry and I saw part of that route only after having bushwhacked through the main mess to the "Toe" at 7000'.

Above 7000' we sort of drifted ridge-left following slight openings in the jungle of thorns. Mark wrote about moving even further out to catch a side-hilling ride on the scree. At this point some might consider contouring to the adjacent ridge west, which will regain the main at Point 7792', where life improves enormously.

Our downroute from Ontario Peak followed the established trails, which still held some patches and stretches of considerable snow (1 or 2 feet). However, it was generally soft or avoidable. Only a couple semi-icey spots were troublesome with no micros. But we managed. I had a pole, and Henry used a stick for balance.

No snow below Icehouse Saddle.

Cool, thanks for the beta. The beak is worthy.  A little surprising to see so much snow left up there. Forum Index -> San Gabriels
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