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JeffH

Icehouse New Year

It was a day that served as a reminder just how great it is to live here. I got up on January 1 to cool but sunny skies, no bad weather in the forecast and of course a few hours to myself. Headed up to Icehouse where at 9am the parking area was only about a quarter full. I brought my crampons just in case, since I figured the north-facing parts of the mountains might be holding some snow.
The lower part of the trail was very cold, despite wearing gloves my hands felt frigid. It was noticeably warmer when I reached the Chapman junction and the sun was providing some nice heat by the two-mile marker.
I stopped for water at Columbine, which is trickling slowly as usual. That water actually seemed warm to me. Heading up the trail, there were a few sections covered in ice, but enough dirt and gravel had covered them so they didn't feel dangerous. Icehouse Saddle had a very cool breeze so I kept on going towards Kellys Camp. That part of the trail is nearly all covered in snow and ice since it stays shady all day. Some of it is pretty solid ice and with the narrow trail and a steep fast ride down I probably should have put on the crampons. I could see tracks of others using them and Yaktrax so it's not the smartest thing I've ever done.
About halfway to KC there is a ridge that goes to the right of the trail, I've spent a couple nights there in the past. Today I headed out onto that little ridge and hung out for a while, cooking up some hot chocolate and sitting in a nice patch of sunshine.
For the walk back I put on the crampons and the level of confidence gained is significant. I plowed through everything, while on the way up I was just taking baby steps so I wouldn't slip. I stopped at the saddle to pack them up once again, hopefully it's not another two years before I get to use them. I saw a lot more people on my way down and of course the parking area was completely full, with people waiting for hikers to get in their cars and leave. Got back home in time for a late lunch and then lounged while I watched the Rose Bowl.
Just another great day in the mountains, happy new year everyone.



Icy section of trail in the lower canyon.



Partially frozen outlet of Columbine Spring.



Almost to 3-mile marker. I wiped out here on the way down.



Trail towards Kellys Camp.



Sunny ridge where I stopped.



Saw these tracks while exploring along the ridge.



I remembered how to put these on, it's been a while.



Crampons come in handy on the narrow sections of trail, steep dropoff here.



Ice waterfall just below the Cucamonga Wilderness border.
Sean

Thanks for the report. I was wondering if the ice had formed already on those trails.
tekewin

Thanks, Jeff. I can't believe there is a bare ridge up there still.
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