Wright Mountain via Heath Canyon

Matt Dixon contemplates the crux on Southern California's Wright Mountain

Here's Matt D earning his handle in Wright Mountain's Heath Canyon. 8505' Wright Mountain is the highest point along Blue Ridge, which we traversed yesterday from Mountain High East.

The Blue Ridge traverse is a fun and low-impact tour until you get to Wright Mountain, at which point maybe the easiest exit would be to ski down into Acorn Canyon (I haven't done that, so buyer beware).

Last year Matt and I descended Wright Mountain's northeast ridge to conclude our traverse of the San Gabriels. This time, we decided to try Heath Canyon.

Wright Mountain has two prominent north-facing canyons featuring very large landslide areas; Heath Canyon is to the west and Sheep Canyon is to the east. Both are clearly visible from the town of Wrightwood.

As skiing goes these are tricky—very steep and rugged terrain paired with extremely loose ground.

Other than getting a little hung up in the crux, we skied and scrambled through Heath Canyon's claustrophobic lower gully without incident. The steep upper headwalls featured a hidden ice crust partially buried beneath a shallow layer of fresh snow, which made things interesting.

Overall, I'd probably rate Heath Canyon a solid "stay away" unless you really want to get the full SoCal Ski Mountaineering experience.

— March 11, 2024

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Walter Kibler March 11, 2024 at 11:03 am

Did you film any of it? I've looked at some of those lines before, but they seemed unskiable at the time.

Andy March 11, 2024 at 4:45 pm

Sorry Walter I was carrying my heavy Sony for still photos instead of the usual GoPro. Matt shot a little bit of video which you can see here:

Walter Kibler March 11, 2024 at 7:01 pm

Thanks! The bowl section at the top looked pretty nice; although looks can be pretty deceiving in the San Gabriels as I've learned.

Matt D March 12, 2024 at 10:38 am

In good conditions it would be an incredible descent. The icy layer made the top headwall feel pretty sketchy and was not apparent due to our approach route until we were at the top of the landslide.

Last year after the big February storm, I partially climbed and skied the Sheep Creek slide. I didn't attempt the enormous headwall on that one due to sketchy snow conditions, being solo, and the potential for serious consequences. Low quality video of that one:

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