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_kick_rocks_

Solo San Antonio Ridge Traverse

SAN ANTONIO RIDGE TRAVERSE | IRON MOUNTAIN TO MT. BALDY

Images and original Trip Report, including GPX FILE and STRAVA UPLOAD:
http://www.trvrsapparel.com/blogs...raverse-iron-mountain-to-mt-baldy


EAST FORK AND THE HEATON FLATS TRAILHEAD


3:38 am - After spending a few minutes re-checking my pack, I locked the car and made a move for the trailhead. I left the East Fork parking lot at 3:38 am feeling great for only having slept 1.5 hours thanks to a quick stop at the gas station for an iced coffee. I packed 2.75 liters of water, a can of coconut water, a homemade turkey club wrap (yes, it had fresh homemade bacon), one apple, one banana, and a few random energy bars. If there is anything I needed to sustain mental clarity on the trail, it was salt, electrolytes, carbohydrates, potassium, and water. I was good for at least 20 miles. Within a few moments, I had already began to jog. Part of me knew that if I kept up a strong pace, I'd make it up to Iron before sunrise. The other part knew that I should focus on reserving my energy, as I would need it later. I ended up finding a happy medium.

ENTERING THE SHEEP MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS


4:15 am
- After passing the first saddle which splits two ways (North and South), I took a short break to de-layer, and continued North. Within a hundred feet, I ran into the infamous sign that says "Entering Sheep Mountain Wilderness" (2 miles, 1,100 feet climbed)  This was the moment where the days goal really came into my mind full force. The first goal was complete, now I just gotta get out of the this Sheep Mountain Wilderness through the opposite side.

After passing the sign, the trail made a quick switchback which brought me to the top of some rolling hills with clear views of the goal (Iron Mountain) to the North. This section continued for another mile before dropping down into Allison Saddle (4.3 miles, 4,600 feet climbed). Every other time I had done this hike with groups, we would take a nice long break here and for good reason. Allison saddle features a small, shaded nook perfect for a 4-6 person hiking group to drop their bags and enjoy a small snack. It also happens to be located just before the real climb begins.

BAGGING BIG IRON

5:15 am
- The next 3 miles to the peak feature 3,400 feet of gain and a hefty amount of it is just after Allison Saddle. The good news is that unlike the last section of the trail, it is mostly a steady climb just after mile 5. A steady, ridiculously steep, gruelling climb with excellent views of Rattlesnake Peak and South Hawkins, as well as Iron Mountains Southwest ridge, and the East fork in between. On the otherside, there was Mount Baldy, which I don't recommend looking at if you are planning on attempting the Traverse.

6:50 am
- I made it to Iron Mountain's summit just in time to watch the sun rise over Mt. Baldy. This couldn't have been timed better because I would have been afraid to continue onto the ridge in the dark. I took a short break to collect myself, refuel, and add a layer of clothing to the mix. The time for speed had passed. The next two miles would be very slow going.

After taking a few pictures and eating half of a bacon turkey wrap, I began to descend the trail. Within 5 minutes, I was already using my hands to down climb small exposed sections. I had to stop several times to slow my heart rate, which I blame mostly on coffee and adrenaline, but this was definitely an odd experience for me. I felt...anxious? This trend of down climbing loose boulder continues for the entirety of mile 8 and the hardest part is saved for last.

GUN SIGHT NOTCH


The name alone begs for this section to have its own paragraph. I haven't been able to find any information on how it found its name. Gun Sight Notch is the final and probably the most difficult Class 3 exposed climb you will deal with on the SART (San Antonio Ridge Traverse). However, if you look closely and take your time, you'll realize the best route is to the left side and success should come fairly easily. I made it past Gun Sight Notch  and continued toward the second peak of the day, but not without looking back after I was done. Its quite view from the bottom and knowing that I completed it gave me a little extra confidence for what was to come.

ASCENDING MOUNT BALDY


I should note that after Gun Sight notch, you'll still have two large rolling hills to climb before the final ascent. Both of which cover a grand total of 2 miles with about 800 feet of vertical gain. In most cases, this would probably have been a nice jog for me, but the coffee had worn off, the energy from the last meal was spent, and the trail, which stays mostly on the north side of the ridge, was covered in icy sections. I kept trying to avoid the ice by going around the south side of the ridge only to find myself surrounded by chaparral and Manzanita.

9:30 am - By the time I had finally reached the base of Mt. Baldy, I was burned out again, so I took a short break, loaded up on sugar and pressed on. Within moments, I was on Baldy's icy north slope. I took another few minutes to attach my crampons. This was my first time using both crampons and an ice axe even though I had spent a good amount of time researching their optimal use. I was at first terrified that I'd end up sliding down the mountain and then, after taking only a few steps, I was laughing at how easy it was for me to climb directly up to the peak. I was in heaven. No switchbacks, and no trail to follow. Just pure ascent.

11:30 am
- I had reached West Baldy at mile 11.5 after climbing over 9.500 feet, but I was completely drained. The worst thing about finally reaching this pseudo peak is that baldy still looks very far away once your there. However, the one thing I recommend is to look back at all that you have accomplished as soon as you have topped out. The ridge is already such a spectacular view, that looking back knowing that you trekked across all of it, should definitely give you a much needed boost of energy.

THE DEVILS BACKBONE

After a few minutes trying to wave down commercial airlines for rescue, I decided that I would continue down the Register Ridge trail to get back home as fast as possible. So, I made my way down the east slope of Baldy. Fortunately, about 200 feet  before I reached the trail junction, I saw three strangers coming up the trail. Without hesitation, I asked them whether or not the Ski Lift was open. IT WAS!

Relief washed over me and I continued to stumble down the rest of the Devils Backbone trail toward the Top of the Notch Restaurant where I bought a lift ticket.

Success.
I was in the clear.

The Bartender must have noticed how thrashed I looked when he asked me about the hike. I let him know that I started in Azusa Canyon. He paused for a second trying to figure out how the two areas connected. So I gave him a brief description of the journey and he congratulated me, noting that it was the furthest he had heard of anyone hiking from. I chuckled and thought of all the ultra runners I knew who had completed the 11-peak traverse. Maybe, one day...



Total Distance (to peak): 12.2 miles
Total Elevation (feet): 10,056 feet
Time to completion: 8 hours, 30 minutes (East Fork Parking Lot to Mount Baldy Summit)

Images and original Trip Report, including GPX FILE and STRAVA UPLOAD:
http://www.trvrsapparel.com/blogs...raverse-iron-mountain-to-mt-baldy
dima

Huge!!!
Sean

Congrats! That's a really tough hike. Do you mean you went down the north side of Gunsight? I didn't see anything decent on that side.
_kick_rocks_

Sean wrote:
Congrats! That's a really tough hike. Do you mean you went down the north side of Gunsight? I didn't see anything decent on that side.


I actually meant that I stayed to the center instead of heading south... I will reword that in the blog so as not to cause confusion! Thanks for letting me know that was unclear. I just feel like initially, one might head to the south to climb down which is really exposed...and the left of that is better. Thanks again!
_kick_rocks_

dima wrote:
Huge!!!


OOOOOOHHHH YEAAAAAAAAHHHHH!
Uncle Rico

As Bernie Sanders would say, "Yuuuuuge!"

Well done, Sir.
_kick_rocks_

Uncle Rico wrote:
As Bernie Sanders would say, "Yuuuuuge!"

Well done, Sir.


ha! Thanks. hopefully more TR comin' this year.
Mike P

One of these days...
tekewin

The winter conditions make this even bigger than just the SAR hike. I guess you could up the ante by doing a winter ridge traverse in the dark. I keed, I keed.

Nice job!
_kick_rocks_

tekewin wrote:
The winter conditions make this even bigger than just the SAR hike. I guess you could up the ante by doing a winter ridge traverse in the dark. I keed, I keed.

Nice job!


ha! now that I got a decent write up of it, I might stay away from there for a while. Someone on this forum once mentioned a loop near West Fork, Cogswell Dam, to the ridge north of that and hitting little mermaid canyon to bear creek..I might be giving that one a shot before it starts heating up. ugh, the fine line between extreme heat and dangerous ice...
AW

_kick_rocks_ wrote:

ha! now that I got a decent write up of it, I might stay away from there for a while. Someone on this forum once mentioned a loop near West Fork, Cogswell Dam, to the ridge north of that and hitting little mermaid canyon to bear creek..I might be giving that one a shot before it starts heating up. ugh, the fine line between extreme heat and dangerous ice...


spying little mermaid canyon eh? hehehe...stay with the West Fork Bear Creek to bear creek if you decide to make it a loop that way.  Reliable water sources along WF San Gabriel would be weeping wall(on trail) past mile marker 4 and probably Butterfield canyon(very minimal off-trail), about mile 6. Oh, if its light when you run along the WF trail at Little Mermaid canyon, at a small bend in the river,close to mile marker 3, then its certainly worth the short time down the cement to easy wade across the WF and head up narrow LM canyon a short ways. Kinda of a dot the i and cross the T move for the route. I think Im going to try peak 5014 again even though I cant get to LM peak in one day...its worth revisiting for sure on a clear day...which means a storm cant be moving in or out since that ridge draws moisture up as well as any in the gabes.

There are a few Sheep Wilderness routes for you still left too Very Happy

Thanks for the SA ridge report though...such a classic. Was the Devils backbone free of snow or?
spotfin

Nice report, awesome trip. I have been thinking about doing this one, but there is one problem: How did you get back to your car?
_kick_rocks_

spotfin wrote:
Nice report, awesome trip. I have been thinking about doing this one, but there is one problem: How did you get back to your car?
]

Sorry, just got back from Big Sur. I had told my girlfriend ahead of time that I would be done between 11am and 1pm and that I would call her when I reached a telephone. Then, by chance, I received a phone call from her on the devils backbone. I was able to let her know a more accurate estimate by then.
_kick_rocks_

AW wrote:
_kick_rocks_ wrote:

ha! now that I got a decent write up of it, I might stay away from there for a while. Someone on this forum once mentioned a loop near West Fork, Cogswell Dam, to the ridge north of that and hitting little mermaid canyon to bear creek..I might be giving that one a shot before it starts heating up. ugh, the fine line between extreme heat and dangerous ice...


spying little mermaid canyon eh? hehehe...stay with the West Fork Bear Creek to bear creek if you decide to make it a loop that way.  Reliable water sources along WF San Gabriel would be weeping wall(on trail) past mile marker 4 and probably Butterfield canyon(very minimal off-trail), about mile 6. Oh, if its light when you run along the WF trail at Little Mermaid canyon, at a small bend in the river,close to mile marker 3, then its certainly worth the short time down the cement to easy wade across the WF and head up narrow LM canyon a short ways. Kinda of a dot the i and cross the T move for the route. I think Im going to try peak 5014 again even though I cant get to LM peak in one day...its worth revisiting for sure on a clear day...which means a storm cant be moving in or out since that ridge draws moisture up as well as any in the gabes.

There are a few Sheep Wilderness routes for you still left too Very Happy

Thanks for the SA ridge report though...such a classic. Was the Devils backbone free of snow or?


I'll keep all of that in mind when I hit it. Sounds like a good trek.  IN THE NOTES!  Thanks for all the info.

The backbone had slushy brown snow on it from all of the day hikers, I took off my crampons once I got past Baldy. But only two days later, I saw a friends picture of the sign at the peak and the snow around it had mostly melted.
cahikr

Having just completed Iron Mtn. for the first time a few weeks ago I am in awe of you. I needed 5 liters to go out and back on Iron.
Nice job!
_kick_rocks_

cahikr wrote:
Having just completed Iron Mtn. for the first time a few weeks ago I am in awe of you. I needed 5 liters to go out and back on Iron.
Nice job!



Thank you much! The early start always helps and I have been told by a lot of the running community that hydrating well the few days before a race is a good idea. So if I'm prepping for something like this, you can expect that I've kept my water intake well above average on the days prior to the trek. I'm also fortunate that I do not sweat much on the trail. You can always cache some water out there and should! This trek is too much fun and well worth the preparation.
cahikr

_kick_rocks_ wrote:
cahikr wrote:
Having just completed Iron Mtn. for the first time a few weeks ago I am in awe of you. I needed 5 liters to go out and back on Iron.
Nice job!



Thank you much! The early start always helps and I have been told by a lot of the running community that hydrating well the few days before a race is a good idea. So if I'm prepping for something like this, you can expect that I've kept my water intake well above average on the days prior to the trek. I'm also fortunate that I do not sweat much on the trail. You can always cache some water out there and should! This trek is too much fun and well worth the preparation.


What are your thoughts on doing this trek in the opposite direction?
To me it always seems easier to do a semi technical up climb as opposed to going down referring to "Gunsite Notch".

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