Sugarloaf aka The Bump
I am pleased at long last to announce success in my longtime quest to climb and ski Big Bear's Sugarloaf Mountain. Sadly and contrary to expectation, this one turns out to be a bit of a stinker.
A classic of Southern California ski mountaineering this peak is not. North facing terrain is primarily comprised of steep ridges and deep, gouge-like ravines that are fairly snaggy and treed. The best skiing seems to be on the eastern sub-peak, which offers a ski-run like expanse (seen here in my GoPro video...eventually).
I ascended what you might call the true north ridge. That was a mistake. It would have been much easier to go up the north/northeast gully. If you're just interested in tagging the true (west) summit, coming from Bear Mountain's Bear Peak (8805') is probably the best bet.
Snow quality was not great. Very, very damp snow and of course very warm temperatures. Despite being basically the same elevation, Sugarloaf feels like a much lower peak than Mount San Antonio, in the neighboring San Gabriels.
Most of the open skiing is west-facing, which usually doesn't mix well with the Southern California sun. As for views, the true summit is completely tree-bound, so you get to see a sign advertising Sugarloaf's near-10K foot elevation—and not much else.
Far to the east, there are some east-facing chutes and better (and higher) road access, but I'm not sure any of it adds up to much more than a curiosity for SoCal skiers. Ah well, I'm happy to check this one off the list. My advice: don't drive past the San Gabriels unless you're heading to Gorgonio or San Jacinto.
Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents
Brad Brown March 11, 2017 at 4:22 pm
Wow, you did it! Sad report but thanks for the being the test pilot. Then again the video looked promising. Been thinking trees were an issue, very tight like Nevada side of Heavenly. Good adventure and resume item right? And good training!??! At the top you were staring to sound like me when I get up out of a chair. Good news is I've been getting the senior cheapo season pass. Got my money's worth last Saturday with a 21.5K vert day-more today! Could actual Sierra Descents be in your future?
Bill Adams March 19, 2017 at 6:42 pm
Was just asking a ski patroller at Snow Valley yesterday about Sugarloaf. He didn't know anything. Spending a family weekend at Big Bear in early April and thought this might be a quick get away. But maybe based on your report here, not. How long did it take you round trip from parked car? I don't think I have San G in me for that trip. Looking for maybe a 2 day San G excursion in April or early May.
Andy March 20, 2017 at 1:05 am
About 5hrs round trip, but I went exploring and climbed both summits, plus I lost my camera and had to hike back up about a mile from the car. Your results may vary. :) San G officially closed right now by USFS until July for fire recovery. The west facing line I skied from the east summit is pretty nice, but things melting very fast in Big Bear right now. I think early April too late for this one.
Bill March 20, 2017 at 2:08 pm
wow, that sucks about San G. - in a good snow winter in an rera of declining good snow years. As for Big Bear, I guess I'll just compilie more video of my kids in the terrain park. got quite the video library already. there are worse alternatives to bc skiing. ;-)
Sandy March 25, 2017 at 2:01 am
Toured Sugarloaf from Bear Peak today , my up (or rather over up down and around ) track was melted out on my return. Like you was hoping to find some interesting potential ( not today !) powder touring terrain , some gnarly little starting zones sprinkled on that ridge . My impression concurs with yours , the smaller bump and terrain may be the best potential accessed from somewhere along the 38 . Also intrigued with the powder short tour lap potential on the other side of onyx summit....hmmmm ???? , will there be another year with enough snow (and timing windows) . SoCal ski touring is tricky biz.
Andy March 25, 2017 at 2:48 am
Tricky is right! Thanks for the info on coming from Bear.