South Fork Loop — Page 7

San Gorgonio Mountain: East Chutes

Eastside Chutes

From Mineshaft Saddle, the trail begins a long traverse around the eastern circumference of San Gorgonio Mountain, crossing a number of prominent avalanche chutes.

Though eastside views now abound, growing steadily more inspiring, this is admittedly one of the grindier portions of the hike. We've passed 10,000 in elevation now, with another 1.5K to go. And, despite all the distance we've already traveled thus far, the summit remains over four miles away.

Gaining Elevation Looking North

So, we put our heads down, time breaths to steps to counteract the effects of that ever-thinning air, and march steadily upward.

In summer I hike with the eyes of a skier, and so I'm logging snapshots of these impressive eastside chutes as we traverse across them. As well, there is the fine sweep of what I'll call the northeast cirque, stretching down toward Mineshaft Flat and the Fish Creek trailhead.

This is prime ski touring terrain, no doubt about it. Hard to get to, absolutely, but as I survey it now, I resolve to schedule a winter visit as soon as conditions prove favorable.

Looking at the map for a bit, you can't help noticing how remote and rugged this area off to our east/southeast is. There are clues to be found in evocative names such as "Ten Thousand Foot Ridge" and "Hell for Sure Canyon." And there is also an almost total lack of roads or even trails. You want adventure? Try linking San Gorgonio's summit with I-10 far, far below.

Or better yet, don't. Remoteness, ruggedness, and Southern California heat are not a fair combination, even for the hardy. Still, the allure of going off the map is hard to resist. And somewhere out there is the Pacific Crest Trail, I know, offering a safer way to flirt with the eastern boundary of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. So maybe I'll return someday and do a little dabbling.

next: Sky High Trail

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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