San Gorgonio Mountain

I'm going to have to make the drive out to the San Bernardino Mountains more often! Al and I skied San Gorgonio Mountain yesterday, and aside from a little wind up top, we were treated to a positively gorgeous day of Southern California backcountry skiing.

In terms of snow quality, this was probably one of the best days I've had in the local mountains. The summit ridge was predictably bulletproof, but things softened nicely as we descended, and the lower gullies were nothing less than perfection. A long day, but definitely worth it.

We hiked in from the South Fork Trailhead on Highway 38, and ultimately ascended and descended San Gorgonio from the summit via the north/northwest face. I should also mention that we crossed the path of a recent (2 months ago?) large, destructive avalanche, which knocked down a huge swath of trees along the South Fork trail in an area where few people would have assumed there was any risk.

Makes me glad I'm a Spring mountaineer. Enjoy the video!

— May 2, 2010

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Brent May 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

I might have seen you leaving the summit just as I arrived on top. I was with 2 snowboarders. We gotta keep in touch better.

Brent May 3, 2010 at 9:03 am

You caught us hiking up the big draw at 3:38 in the video.

Michael May 3, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Super cool - I am going to have to start carrying one of those little Flip HD cameras on my backcountry trips...

ScottP May 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

How far did you have to walk before you reached skinnable snow? Did you go by Dry Lake?

Andy May 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Scott, we found snow at the 8000' level just past the second of the two major avalanche paths off San Bernardino Mtn. That works out to about 3 miles of hiking via the South Fork Trail. We stayed just west of Dry Lake. It's a long way back there compared to the San Gabriels, but the skiing terrain sure was inviting!

Michael, the video was shot with Panasonic's new prosumer camcorder, the TM700K. At some point I'm going to start writing about my adventures in HD video—it was a lot more involved (and expensive) than I'd have ever guessed. :)

Dan Conger May 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Awesome. Always wanted to hike San Gorgonio. Done Baldy, but never Old Greyback. Looks like a gorgeous day.

EMan May 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm


Once again, our paths cross. As I recall, you were on San J the 1st skiable op of the season.
Glad you also got some primo turns in MAY!

Jim May 8, 2010 at 7:05 am

Great videos. I climbed it yesterday and was glad to not carry skis up, but wished I had them going down. Perfect corn!

Jonathan L May 17, 2010 at 11:36 pm

As of last Saturday, Throop Chute is still totally skiable. All the way down to the road. 1500' of perfect north facing corn. On the other hand, we started kind of late and had to give up on the skins, and bootpack starting about halfway up. I was more than happy to have crampons and an ax once or twice but you'd be fine without. So Cal backcountry in May. Awesome.

The Central Scrutinizer May 19, 2010 at 10:17 am

I love the San G Wilderness, and it has been a second season to remember forever. Great Video Andy

The Central Scrutinizer May 19, 2010 at 10:18 am

Anybody up for a June SoCal Ski Sendoff up there?

Teleturner May 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Great video! The So Cal backcountry never ceases to amaze...

George A June 12, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Andy, I am not a skier but just returned today from a 3 day backpack trip to Dry Lake. Wondered about the avalanche and when it happened so thanks for helping with that. Your video is awesome. As I said I am not a skier so I don't understand any of the dynamics. How do you climb the hills without sliding backward? You make it look so easy. How many times did you climb and ski down? Really enjoyed watching.

Andy June 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm

George, we use climbing skins, which are nylon-bristled strips that stick to the bottom of the skis and allow you to walk uphill. These come off for the downhill. Skis w/skins are an amazingly efficient way to get around in mountains in winter. Glad you liked the video!

Nancy July 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Very cool video! Just hiked up there last weekend and was AMAZED by the landscape at the avalanche site. My pictures don't do it justice... Thanks for sharing your video. It was exhilarating!!

John February 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Anyone know what is looking like now up there, maybe good after this weekend snow? Looking to cut my teeth for backcountry the season on San G. Would like to ski down, holler if anyone knows the info on it for this season

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *