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Snow Creek Route (10,000') on Mt. San Jacinto (10,804'), California
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Steve Schuster and Bob Speik
Summit of Mt. San Jacinto 10,804', Southern California, May 1974
 via the Snow Creek route, a 10,000 foot desert to summit classic snow climb

Copyright© 1973-2012 by Robert Speik.
 All Rights Reserved.

The Snow Creek Route on Mt. San Jacinto
Mt. San Jacinto is located in the San Bernardino National Forest, just west of Palm Springs. The Classic Snow Creek Route is one of the premier alpine climbs in Southern California. The Route is in condition only for a few weeks in the spring of each year. The following story appeared in the September-October 1993 edition of the Sierra Club's Hundred Peaks Lookout newsletter. Most climbers elect to bivy about 5,000 feet below the summit making it a two day climb. The following is a report on a one day climb!
--Webmeister Speik

Trip Report for Mt. San Jacinto (10,804')
(A 10,000' one day climb via Snow Creek)
By Dan Richter
Easter Sunday, April 11, 1993

Erik Siering, Bob Sumner and I slept Saturday night in the desert behind a well-lit up utility building halfway up the Snow Creek road. At 4:30 am we parked our trucks just before the private property sign on the left just before Snow Creek Village and quietly went up Falls Creek road to not wake the sleeping residents. Twenty minutes up the road we cut south across Snow Creek and climbed the ridge between Falls Creek and Snow Creek. We scrambled and bouldered up on the east side to not disturb the guard and his dogs. Once high on the ridge we continued along easy ground to "the isthmus" at 4,000 feet where Falls Creek and Snow Creek almost come together. We traversed through heavy brush keeping to the east side of Snow Creek and about a hundred feet above it aiming for a notch on a spur at 4,800 feet and then dropping into a canyon that joins Snow Creek from the southeast. At the point this side canyon turned left at 5,000 feet and we climbed southeast out of it onto the ridge 50 feet above Snow Creek proper. From here we could see the tongue of snow about a quarter of a mile up the creek. We traversed on the east side of the creek and joined it to boulder over the final waterfalls that brought us to the snow at 10:00 am.

We rested and snacked as we put on our crampons, got out our ice axes, and adjusted packs and clothes. Ahead lay 5,100 feet of 45° to 55° of snow that becomes almost vertical at the summit. The first 500 to 700 feet was piled with run out of avalanches which looked like large fluffy moguls with an occasional broken pine bough sticking out at odd angles like the arm of a buried skier. The chute was narrow here with high rock walls. As we slowly switched back from side to side on deep firm snow the chute began to widen more and more. Between 7,000 and 8,000 feet the chute began to become immense and as we looked up the shear wall of white snow we could see the glistening summit 3,000 feet above us. Bob moving more quickly, broke trail and reached the summit at 4:30 p.m. as the sun left the final steep pitch below it. Erik and I watched the surface glaze over with ice as we kicked and hacked up the freezing final 200 feet. We came out 30 feet to the right of the summit at 5:30 p.m. below a cornice glowing blue in the later afternoon sun.

After a break to put on warmer gear, to get our breath and to gaze at the glorious vistas, we strolled down to the tram as the sun set. The surface of the snow had re-frozen and we crunched along easily in our crampons. We were at the tram by 8:00 p.m. and caught the 8:30 car down. Once down we took a cab back to the trucks and were back in L.A. by midnight.
© 1993-2001 by Dan Richter. All Rights Reserved.



Genesis of a traditional mountaineer ca 1974
This was my first technical snow climb. We bivied about 5,500 feet below the summit.

Personal Trip Report
A climber had fallen the week before our climb. He had slid for several hundred vertical feet of elevation down rough hard snow and ice. He had lost his ice axe and gloves and had worn all the skin off his hands during the slide. As I vividly recall, we thought we could see long blood stains on the snow, but we were not sure. This injured climber had been air lifted off the route. I do not have the  ANAM for 1974. Was this accident reported? Comments

When I arrived at the very steep final pitch below the 10,804 foot summit, I found that my ice axe and crampons only penetrated the surface of the hard snow slope about a an eighth of an inch. Someone noted that I was at the point where that climber had fallen the week before. I concentrated on my technique and balance and topped out after a few more minutes. Wheeew. Our Leader set up a fixed rope for the following slower climbers on that final pitch that morning. I was interested in how he did that.
--Webmeister Speik.

Note: In the mid 1980s, Robert Speik was Chair for three years of the Mountaineering Training Committee (MTC) of the Sierra Club's large Angeles Chapter in Southern California. The Committee was responsible for the training up to 1,000 people per year in Basic and Advanced Mountaineering Training with more than 250 volunteer Leaders in five geographical areas, qualified in several levels of technical competence and responsibility. Bob Speik edited a new MTC Staff Handbook in 1985, writing the chapter on technical Snow Climbing. Recently, he has conducted popular class room and field classes in several mountaineering subjects for Central Oregon Community College in Bend Oregon. --Margaret Thompson Speik





Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated

Read more . . .
Climbing the Snow Creek Route on Mt. San Jacinto, California
Cheating death on the Snow Creek Route on Mt San Jacinto, California
Palm Springs Life Magazine, story on Snow Creek with photos by Robert Speik
A climb of Mt. San Jacinto by Snow Creek, in the Summer
San Gorgonio 11 Peak Loop- 21 miles, 8600', not easy!

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