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Iron Mountain Conditions after a snow storm

There is what appears to be an amateur group of hikers planning to attempt Iron Mountain (East) this coming Saturday. However, the weather forecast calls for snowstorms Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (and 20% chance of snow on Saturday itself.)

My question is:
Is it a fair assessment that:

Snow and ice on terrain as steep as the ridge on the ascent to iron--creates treacherous, challenging and time consuming conditions. Anyone attempting the route in these conditions would be advised at the very least, to bring crampons, gaiters, hard shell pants/jacket, helmet, and an axe. (possibly even rope and snowshoes) [And know how to use the gear with confidence] And to expect the climb to take many more hours than it would sans snow and ice. Additionally, while the trail is well worn in, snow will make route finding more difficult-and the summit register will quite possibly be buried and inaccessible.

I feel, unless you truly know what you are doing, hiking iron under these conditions is simply not worth the effort and the risk.

How does everyone else feel about this? I would love your input. Thanks!

I think the definition of amateur figures into this highly.

I personally would not have any problem going up the standard route on Iron in Winter with my buddies in any real weather (IE not summit ice tornadoes, but 70mph blizzard ok). I would have waterproof gear, waterproof approach shoes/boots, steel strap crampons like your entry-level BD 10-point crampons, a light axe with a spike that can take abuse, and some motivation to be up there.

I wouldn't consider it dangerous, but my idea of dangerous seems to usually be more dangerous than what others think, not sure why but w/e. It's not like there's any real exposure/drop off on 90% of the hike, just a section maybe around the 1-mile to the summit area, where Allison Gulch falls away along the steep south face of Iron. Someone could get lost and fall off the summit if they were not sober, I guess. Pretty safe otherwise.

Taco wrote:
I think the definition of amateur figures into this

Isn't that why the sign at the trailhead at the Vincent Gap trailhead for Baden-Powell that warns off treacherous conditions during winter hiking and steep terrain being dangerous during the snow season there for?

I for one don't have the need,experience nor equipment to attempt any of the type of "normal", ugh correction, abynormal Shocked stuff that you guys do.

I was caught in the first storm that hit in Oct, (which I knew was gonna hit me) 2 miles short of destination, wet, cold and still able to use my grey matter and threw up emergency tarp shelter and hunkered down.

 Woke up to a beautiful snow dusted view, alive, warm and the boys in blue hovering around my site, checking to see if anyone stupid enough to be up then was still kicking. I was.

Hope they read the input.......

Question need to waste precious resources on the when natural selection would work just fine  Laughing

Iron in Winter

I know the exact spot which Taco refers to and have been there when the snow was hard and I marveled at how a slip would end up sliding into what looked like the bottomless abyss of Allison Gulch. Crampons would be a good idea if only for a few short sections.

It is really hard to predict conditions on a mountain without going there. Usually right after a storm the snow is soft and a slip and slide is unlikely.
Soft snow does make it more strenuous. Your comment “more time consuming” is a good assumption for this weekend.

One winter problem I have had on Iron is during the approach the trail is narrow and brushy, when damp it is easy to get wet, soaking wet, then you start up into colder snow, not a good combination.
If the sky is clear and the snow soft I think the conditions would be hard but not that dangerous.
I hope the group has a safe hike..

It takes a lot to get me out of my trail runners. Below freezing temps with more than a foot of snow for over a mile up 25% grades might do it. For Iron, it would depend on the snow level and amount. I doubt temperature would be much of an issue on Saturday, as the summit is only 8000 feet. Hiking through slush would be annoying though.

It's really variable how snow will affect things.  Significant old snow that has thawed and then refrozen could be extremely dangerous.  Little patches, not so much.  Fresh snow is usually no big deal.  It's not all that often that we get heavy enough snow fall below 8,000' that it would make things really dangerous (although it could happen, particularly with a succession of storms one right after another).

I did Iron Mountain once when there was good snow coverage  on much of the route above Heaton Saddle.  It actually made things safer and easier.  It was perfect:  Solid so that you could easily plunge step but not icy where you might step.  


Perfect timing

I was actually up there on the classic rt 11/24/13. The storm warning was pretty out of proportion.  Baldy was coated up high but Iron Mountain was just dusted (maybe 1" of powder accumulation) just on the peak. Around 12:30, when I got up there, it was just starting to dust a little more but nothing serious. As soon as you dropped ~50-100' even that cleared up. We actually had the clearest views I can remember. From the peak we could see well past Catalina island, it was pretty unbelievable (the cloud cover was high and the rain had cleared everything out of the air.)

As Jim noted when there's some moisture on the ground the slopes hold together better and really made it an enjoyable hike.
Phil B

I hiked Iron Mtn yesterday (12/14/2013), it turned out to be a really good  day, mostly blue skies and reasonably cool temps although the wind did pick above 7K but this made a great change from the heat that often has to be endured to gain this summit.    The storm from the previous week had dampened down the trail which made for better traction on the steeper sections, it  surprised me that I was the only person taking advantage of the good conditions as I didn't see another person all day, guess they were all Christmas shopping, lucky me, how often do you get a whole mountain to yourself.    The summit was completely void of snow with just a few tiny patches hidden in the trees, as I said, a really good day in the San Gabs.


Sounds like virtually perfect conditions for a hike to Iron. Forum Index -> News & Conditions
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