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San Gabriel Peak via Fallout Canyon (aka Disappointment Cyn)

On Sunday, after Dima, Hank, and I bagged Occidental Peak, we grabbed some apple pie for lunch at The Cosmic Cafe. Dima then needed to return home, leaving me alone to figure out how to burn off those sugary calories from the pie.

For a few months now I've been considering a gully on the north side of San Gabriel Peak.

It begins at the 0.9 mile marker along the Mt. Wilson Road and tops out at the San Gabriel-Disappointment saddle. There is a nice road turnout about a tenth of a mile before the entrance. This is where I parked and prepared my pack with a liter of water and a bag of cashews.

Only a few steps into the canyon I noticed some old pipe and wires. It appears that the pipe runs the length of the gully, for I saw more of it near the top.

The canyon itself starts off as your basic class 2 scramble over plenty of good-sized rocks. The walls are somewhat narrow and in places rocky. There are trees for plenty of shade.

A couple splits make things interesting, and they might confuse some adventurers, especially if one loses sight of the saddle above. The first split goes right--and fairly quickly deadends at a ridiculous rock wall.

The other enticing split heads leftward--and I don't recommend taking it unless you are actually Spiderman. I subsequently learned that it sprints rather aggressively up to the northwest shoulder of San Gabriel Peak. Looking down from the San Gabriel Peak Trail, the top of this side gully seemed unclimbable.

Back in the main canyon, some light vegetation, which looked like berry plants, pushed me to the righthand bank. The grade became tough as I struggled up the headwall for a couple hundred feet of slipping and sliding through the dirt.

A little before the saddle, I came upon a debris field, in which a badly rusted container still bore the stenciled words, "Mask, Protective."

I immediately fantasized about Cold War-era military personnel from the missile site on Mt. Disappointment. Perhaps they had regular nuclear strike drills, during which they wore "protective masks" and huddled together in this gully, which shall now be known forever as Fallout Canyon.

At the top of Fallout I encountered a couple Poodle Dog bushes, which were carefully avoided. Then I found myself at the broad, artificially flattened saddle, right in front of the solitary tree amidst the concrete slabs.

A few feet to my right a surprised couple was preparing to take a nap on the ground. I answered their questions about what the heck I had done. Then I quickly ascended the trail to San Gabriel Peak.

The ferocious midday sun beat down on the treeless summit. Views were familiar but still nice.

Looking at the northeast ridge, my dream of taking a silly way down would have to wait for another day. Not only did a wall of Poodle Dog block the start of the route, but also my water bottle was almost depleted. Common sense dictated that I take the easy way down. So after resting in the thin shadow of the makeshift summit bench, I walked back to the car via actual trails.


nifty might find this link interesting...

Very nice! If you like that kind of thing, a nice jaunt in the area is the north side of Mt. Markham, scrambling up the rocky ridge directly from the road. I did it once years ago, so I can't vouch for the conditions, but I remember it being an enjoyable scramble up a relatively stable assembly of blocks suspended in the air in apparent defiance of gravity. But then again, that was long before the fire, so might not be so solid anymore.

Thanks, AW. Glad to see somebody made it up that chute. It didn't look like my cup of tea.

Walker: I've been eyeballing Markham for some time. Mostly the SE side. The north side is probably still covered in Poodle Dog around the summit. Forum Index -> San Gabriels
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