Sugarloaf, Ontario, & Bighorn Peaks via Falling Rock Canyon

Sugarloaf, Ontario, & Bighorn Peaks via Falling Rock Canyon at EveryTrail

Trip details are given here.

Meetup Link here

My photos here

Well, this was quite a trip! We met up at the Icehouse Canyon trailhead at 8 am with about 18 people, 8 of which were planning to ascend to Ontario via the regular trail, 7 of which who I had ‘allowed’ to go up via Falling Rock Canyon, and 3 of which wanted to go up FRC but even though we had already closed the group a week prior. I decided they could go, even though it probably is too many people for such a canyon especially on the scree slopes in the upper portion.

Since there were forecasts for precipitation and high winds, I was ready to cancel the FRC hike and go up IHC trail, but wanted to see what the gametime conditions were like. Luckily, there was practically no wind nor any signs of rain / snow, so we were still good to go.

Given previous route descriptions, FRC was not difficult to find as we veered right off the Icehouse Canyon trail at the first blantant switchback, then headed up east a bit before turning south into the canyon. The lower canyon was a lot of fun to do some bouldering. I was not sure exactly what the trouble was with avoiding the first waterfall, as it was dry and we passed it up by staying on the left side of the canyon. Heading up, it seemed that the sides of the canyon would alternate with one having scree and the other have solid rocks to boulder, so we went back and forth avoiding the scree sections as much as possible.


At about 6100 ft, we could see a pretty obvious branch go off on the right side of the canyon, which matched again with descriptions noting this to be a key turn not to miss!

As seen in the photo above, now the area of movement has narrowed with people following in a single line. There was an option to follow up a more rocky terrain to the right or take the scree slope to the left, and most of us decided to take the rocky terrain with a few going up the scree.

The more rocky terrain was fine in the lower portion, but became more difficult as we got higher and the rock became more crumbly. Meanwhile, the few people who were on the scree basically gave up and headed over to the rocky terrain thinking it would be easier.

The main keys to heading up this portion with this size group were splitting off, patience, and communication! Luckily we did pretty well with that. We split off into smaller groups on different portions of rock, with each group making progress up while watching out that any falling rocks were not in the pathways of others.

After a long bout we finally ascended the ridge and were able to head over to Pão de Açucar.


Then we headed over and up the ridge toward Ontario, which I also thought was pretty fun with some more options of rock bouldering.

And, you will probably assume the following photo was due to rocks in FRC:

But in reality, Guido had a tough battle with a tree branch!

And my damn cover didn’t open all the way on a few photos:


So then we headed up to Ontario for the 2nd out of 3 peaks. Now, I remember seeing a cool photo of something standing on this thing, but once I started climbing it, I was like, ‘oh hell no I’m not trying to balance on top of that! So I just gave it a hug.

We continued on to Bighorn Peak. On planning the hike I initially put in the chance of heading to Cucamonga after, but I think we felt the 3 peaks were sufficient for the day. So we headed down the north slopes of Bighorn and intersected the Ontario Peak trail about 50 m from Icehouse Saddle. From there, it was all trail downhill.

Overall, a great adventure, and it seemed it was definitely what people were looking for. I would like to explore more off the beaten path areas in the future.

And afterward, we hit up La Tolteca in Azusa for some good Mexican grub.


Related posts:

Upper Arroyo Seco & Switzer Falls
Iron Mtn. Video Diary
Mountaineering - Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon: Extreme Edition 1/15/11

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This entry was posted on Saturday, October 11th, 2008 at 1:27 pm and is filed under Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Sugarloaf, Ontario, & Bighorn Peaks via Falling Rock Canyon”

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » Attacking Baldy via the Bowl

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » Attacking Baldy via the Bowl December 21st, 2009 at 11:54 pm

[...] this is where experience comes in. The only other time I felt this kind of apprehension was in Falling Rock Canyon. Except this was [...]

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