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Iron Mountain's North Ridge

 
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_kick_rocks_



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:08 pm    Post subject: Iron Mountain's North Ridge  Reply with quote

INTRODUCTION:

I awoke in the morning to find that a good hiking friend of mine, the Legendary Gus, had posted twenty six pictures to facebook's 'California Peaks' group page. I honestly would have shot right past the post to watch the next video down "Cute Animal Fails", except Gus 'The Mountain Goat' is the only person I've ever taken to Triplet Rocks after my first trip report on here and rumor has it hes climbed Iron Mountain 100 times before realizing the surrounding peaks could also be bagged. I began squinting my eyes to read further and before I knew it, they were wide again. The letters stood out like a Big Horn Sheep on a fire road ...NORTH RIDGE OF IRON MOUNTAIN...he had my attention.

The first time I had heard about the North Ridge was during my San Antonio Traverse. Butchy Fuego described it shortly along with a ton of other routes he had done up to Iron, all of which required extra gear that I didn't know how to use; compass, a map, gaiters, a water bottle. You know, all the technical gear that only the Pro's use. I decided to message Gus to see if he could part with the GPX file for further research. He was only able to send me a screen shot of his route since he didn't have any idea how to download the GPX from Garmin.  Fair enough. I pretty much always use screen shots to compare to my Strava Uploads since I don't have a Garmin. Normally, if I'm feeling lost, I just open up both strava and the picture to compare side by side to see if I'm on the right track.

I spent portion of my morning reading trip reports and getting ready for work when I received a message. "We can just do it tomorrow" meant that I was free from the confines of the work day. For the last two weeks, work has been almost 100% on call... which was both depressing and exciting. I could make no plans, but I was also free to be extremely spontaneous with my solo hiking attempts. All that it required was a precise estimates of trail time and weather conditions, both of which I fail to gather consistently.

Within 30 minutes, after burning a hip hop beat CD, emailing myself the trail beta, and making a PBJ, I was out the door and ready to attempt Iron Mountain's North Ridge.

FUCK.


THE TRAIL:

(Disclaimer: Please do not use any of these time estimates to make an itinerary for this trek. I'ved trained consistently running in the ANF  for the last six months to get to this level. I'm not trying to be cocky, I just don't want anyone getting hurt because of overambitious goals. I've added trail beta at the end of the Trip Report for you to make up your own estimates for the death walk.)

I parked my car at Heaton Flat and checked my gear for the fourth time. The official start time leaving the parking lot and passing the fence was 12:56pm. I knew that I could make it to the bridge within 1 hour even with a full day pack so long as I kept up a decent running pace. Within 5 minutes, I realized I brought far too much water, especially since I also brought a water filter. Fortunately I passed an attractive female at the 2 mile marker who had nothing but a walking stick. I pawned off an unopened water bottle to her and refused her offer to make love to me. Onward.

I arrived at the Bridge to Nowhere in exactly one hour. So far so good. At this point, I knew that I could reach Fish Fork from there by 3pm. The distance to Fish Fork is a little shorter than the first bit to the bridge, but I had been there several times and I knew from previous experience that its a bit more rugged. You essentially just have to follow the creek once your about half a mile past the bridge which sets you up for lots of water wading, a little bush whacking and easy rocky terrain. I kept having to remind myself that following the water here would be much easier than trying to find a trail off to the side. Its worth the wet shoes, trust me.

Two hours in from my trek and I was ready to take short breather at Fish Fork... I mean, how could you not? This is literally one of the most incredible isolated campgrounds in all of East Fork. Full sized fire pit with a grill, at least three tent locations, an infinite amount of places to hang a hammock, and of course a creek to filter water from within 50 feet of camp. GORGEOUS!

Oh shit thats right. I gotta climb a mountain still...

After considering turning around, I decided that 4 hours would at least get me to the summit in the worst case scenario and I would have to hike down the South Ridge in the dark. I knew the trail relatively well, so the summit was now in my mind as a beacon of safety.  I estimated that I would make it to the car by 10pm, but I would have a helluva Journey before then.  The Trip Report I read had noted that the ascent to the ridge was about .5 miles past Fish Fork. I followed my GPS closely for this section since I knew that looking for a trail at this point was most likely out of the question.

Sure as shit, at about .5 miles is a gully that I was supposed to ascend to the ridge, except I walked right past the Gully and stood there staring at a rock wall because I had forgot what a Gully was. Oops. So I basically took the ridge the entire way up and dealt with TONS of bushwhacking that could have been avoided. The next hour was horrendous because of this. I kept looking to the south and seeing that clear gully I could have taken as I powered through dense bush. It was a mess.

Eventually I got to the ridge and saw the what must have been Iron Mountain. This is where my mind started playing tricks on me...

The Facts:

-I was already mentally drained from all of the dense bush I just encountered
-A section of the ascent from the ridge is hidden and looks as though you would have to drop down into a canyon and ascend A WALL before reaching Iron (very unsettling).
-Rain Clouds were starting to hover over Rattlesnake Peak.
-FUCK.


At this point there were no more breaks. I had to get close to the summit before the clouds came in and I lost my sense of direction. I was forced to take mental note of every possible spot to hide under a rock if weather came in AND I had to continue relentlessly up the what was now purely class 3 climbs. It spent the next hour speaking aloud to myself. It was a jumble of positive incantations to keep me from slowing the pace, laughing at how beautiful the scenery was every time I reached another lip and planning on what I'd do if shit hit the fan and I was forced to spend the night.

6:36pm-Finally, success was visible. I read in the trip report that about a quarter mile from the peak, it flattens out a quite a bit. So I kept pushing in hopes that I would see....and there it was. Relief. A metal pole with a downward facing triangle. This time I could only see the back of it, but I immediately started imaging the phrase "W-mutha-fuckin-15" written in big white letters. I had made it to the peak.

I was barely ahead of schedule. I had just enough time to get my LED lights out, eat a PBJ and sign the register. The clouds surrounded me at this point and the sun might as well have gone down because visibility was almost gone but I knew how to get home and thats all the comfort I needed. I arrived back to the car at about 9:20pm. I was covered in sweat and out of water. I could immediately feel all of the previous stress I had put myself through slowly transform into excitement. Not a lot of people have done what you just did.

Total trip time from car to car 8 hours and 20 minutes.

TRAIL BETA (all rough estimates)

Heaton flat (Ev. 2010 ft.)

Total Distance: 0.5 Miles
Total Vertical Gain:-30 feet

Bridge to Nowhere (Ev. 2774 ft.)
Easy to follow trail, lots of mildy technical terrain.

Total Distance: 4.7 miles
Total Vertical Gain: 950 feet

Fish Fork (Ev. 3395 ft.)
Close to no trail. Following the creek is your best bet. prepare for wet shoes.
Total Distance: 7.36 miles
Total Vertical Gain: 1395 feet


North Ridge to Iron Mountain (Ev. 8010 ft.)
Extremely difficult Terrain. 60% Class 3 climbs, 25% dense Bush whacking, 10% class 2 ridgeline walking, 5% basic Class 4 moves.
I am the 'go-go-go' hiker. My mentality is simply DONT STOP MOVING. If you are the patient hiker that observes much more, you could probably avoid the class 4 climbs completely and the bush whacking a little bit.

Total Distance: 10.5 miles
Total Vertical Gain: 6853 feet

South Ridge Descent to Heaton Flat:
Total Distance: 18.2 miles
Total Vertical Gain: 7000 feet ??[/b]


Photos
http://s67.photobucket.com/user/p.../Iron%20Mountains%20North%20Ridge

Strava

Most of the Ascent (Phone died)
https://www.strava.com/activities/392509328

Final Push and Descent
https://www.strava.com/activities/392509318
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missy



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked holy s----!  Shocked

What are you?  Laughing

Some young kid thinks he can just walk in and conquer our mtns. Jk Smile

Congrats on conquering this most difficult climb in such a ridiculous time. Unheard of. Unprecented.

I think you did a bit of extra credit on top of a notoriously grueling route. Story was pretty well written. Thanks for sharing your account on this route Aarjay! Hopefully we can hear about it around the campfire soon.
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David R



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is some impressive shit, one of the most difficult climbs in just over 8 hours? The combination of time and hike put this in a class of its own AND you missed the gully.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing! What's next? Evening stroll up bighorn ridge?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
refused her offer to make love to me

Fail. Start over.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
60% Class 3 climbs, 25% dense Bush whacking, 10% class 2 ridgeline walking, 5% basic Class 4 moves.


10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will,
5% pleasure and 50% PaIn
and 100% reason to remember Iron's north ridge.

Quote:
Fortunately I passed an attractive female at the 2 mile marker who had nothing but a walking stick. I pawned off an unopened water bottle to her and refused her offer to make love to me.


I know right! When that happens to me, I'm like, just take the water already and hey, my eyes are up here.

I was wondering if you were going to kick any more local rocks. Awesome hike!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Fortunately I passed an attractive female at the 2 mile marker who had nothing but a walking stick. I pawned off an unopened water bottle to her and refused her offer to make love to me.


When this happens to me, I try to be a bit more accommodating to the needs and wants of my fellow outdoor enthusiasts of the opposite gender. But that's just me.  Razz

Other than that minor nit-pick, amazing adventure in incredible time.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David R wrote:
This is some impressive shit, one of the most difficult climbs in just over 8 hours? The combination of time and hike put this in a class of its own AND you missed the gully.


Thanks David! Very excited to have knocked this one off of the list.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

missy wrote:
Shocked holy s----!  Shocked

What are you?  Laughing

Some young kid thinks he can just walk in and conquer our mtns. Jk Smile

Congrats on conquering this most difficult climb in such a ridiculous time. Unheard of. Unprecented.

I think you did a bit of extra credit on top of a notoriously grueling route. Story was pretty well written. Thanks for sharing your account on this route Aarjay! Hopefully we can hear about it around the campfire soon.


Can't wait!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scottawr wrote:
Amazing! What's next? Evening stroll up bighorn ridge?


Sure is. Just waiting for the opportunity now.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="tekewin:52118"]
Quote:
100% reason to remember Iron's north ridge.

I was wondering if you were going to kick any more local rocks. Awesome hike!


I will definitely NOT forget this trek...or what a Gully is. Thanks. I'll definitely be posting more stuff on here...just the technical ones though. I don't like writing that much. haha
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dude!

Big Horn Ridge will be hard of course (dealing with the brush / route finding up to 6300', then just grind it out) but after that you need a real challenge Smile

You need to do the San Gabriel Triple Crown all in one continuous hike.

1. Baldy (the King)
2. Baden-Powell (the Queen)
3. Iron Mountain (the Joker)

Some people talk about this in reference so a larger Death March (huge loop including Hawkins - Rattlesnake Ridge) that's like 50 miles.

The idea I had but never did would be a shorter, yet brutal Baldy - Iron - Baden Powell route.

Head up Baldy - San Antonio Ridge - Iron - Northwest Ridge (check out Stanley Miller mine - Iron Fork - up south east ridge of Ross (cross country brush but maybe not too bad) Ross mtn, Baden Powell. Will at least be 12000' ft gain as a one way.

I think you should do it  Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah, and which was harder, this or Triplets ?
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

_kick_rocks_ wrote:

I will definitely NOT forget this trek...or what a Gully is. Thanks. I'll definitely be posting more stuff on here...just the technical ones though. I don't like writing that much. haha


I want to pile on with other people with kudos on the time. I could not do the trail up Iron in the time you went to the back side and up the wild north ridge. Your trail running pays big dividends on long trips like this, saving time and the weight of extra water.

Ze's suggested hike is a killer, but you should also do the southwest ridge of Iron going up Allison Gulch or on the trail past the mine. Then you would finish the Iron Cross (all four major ridges of Iron).
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Last edited by tekewin on Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You guys are blowing my mind right now. Idea
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I honestly don't know which was harder. Off the top of my head, I feel like triplet was harder, but I also did that one in a much earlier stage of training..SO I can't be sure until I do it again!  But yeah I feel like triplet has all that down climbing. Maybe down climbing is a weakness of mine. Must hike more!
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wrote:
Dude!

The idea I had but never did would be a shorter, yet brutal Baldy - Iron - Baden Powell route.

Head up Baldy - San Antonio Ridge - Iron - Northwest Ridge (check out Stanley Miller mine - Iron Fork - up south east ridge of Ross (cross country brush but maybe not too bad) Ross mtn, Baden Powell. Will at least be 12000' ft gain as a one way.


You (whoever) definitely should do it, if for no other reason than to plant your flag at the pole of inaccessibility, which is around-ish that route. I haven't yet gotten around to visiting it, although I'll choose a less exciting way.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright. Looking into that Allison Gulch this week. I've heard of it before and thought it required equipment or was out of my league. The Pole of Inaccessability looks crazy!!! I will DEFINITELY be looking to that and the triple crown loop VERY soon. I will probably start with attempting to climb the ridge up to Baden Powell from Iron Fork. That is the only part that seems to be unexplored. But shit....that whole loop is far beyond my current limitations. I am looking to get to that level. It will just take me a very long time haha
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, congratulations on an epic journey.

Quote:

Alright. Looking into that Allison Gulch this week. I've heard of it before and thought it required equipment or was out of my league.


I went up to the mine via Allison Gulch in the spring. I had always heard/assumed the same thing but was surprised to find that the "trail" bypassing the falls in the gorge had been worked by someone and was pretty straightforward once you found it. The difficulty is locating the point where the trail leaves the canyon bottom and starts the switchbacks up the north side of the canyon. You could follow that trail to the mine and beyond, or perhaps use that trail to find a way up the south east ridge and make a direct line for the summit. The trail passes through some pretty crumbly and loose terrain above a few big drops into the gorge, so I'm sure that whole area would be more of the same once you're off trail.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

walker wrote:
I went up to the mine via Allison Gulch in the spring. I had always heard/assumed the same thing but was surprised to find that the "trail" bypassing the falls in the gorge had been worked by someone and was pretty straightforward once you found it.


The last time I was in the area (3 years ago or so) the trail from Allison Gulch up to the mine was clear and easily traveled. I added the route to OSM, and unless something changed since then, it should be correct:

http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=18/34.26999/-117.73326
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is the summitpost article on the southwest (corrected from southeast) ridge  route. There is a picture of the talus slope where you leave the trail.

http://www.summitpost.org/southwest-ridge-from-allison-mine/384585
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I'm looking at google earth to plan my Ascent of Ross Mountains South East Ridge. It looks like way too much bush compared to the South Ridge. Anyone care to look into this? I am considering heading to the Southern most ridge and sticking to the gully on the right as long as possible until ascending what looks like scree slopes to get to that ridge.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

_kick_rocks_ wrote:
So I'm looking at google earth to plan my Ascent of Ross Mountains South East Ridge. It looks like way too much bush compared to the South Ridge. Anyone care to look into this? I am considering heading to the Southern most ridge and sticking to the gully on the right as long as possible until ascending what looks like scree slopes to get to that ridge.


I think by the south ridge you mean the one with subpeak 5995? Id prefer that one...but best way is you have to use serious energy to scramble up IF past the dayhike turnaround point and then go up the ridge that has the "3800" on it. Super duper steep. Pretty though.

That scree slope is basically vertical. There is a less steep version of it on the Airplane Flats to pk 4775....and I cant imagine anyone being able to go down that one muchless up. I kid with Ze and call em Z slopes.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info you guys. I did it today. I'm not sure how but I did it. I'll write a trip report soon.
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