Snowshoeing up to San Jacinto via the Tram

What an amazing day! First time snowshoeing, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Our plan was to take the tram up and then snowshoe the rest of the way to the summit.

We left at about 6:00am and got to the tram by 7:35am and barely made onto the first tram up. This was my first time on the tram, and I must say that it was pretty adventurous. Nice fast mover all the way to the top. I guess it was too early though to rotate it for the view. Unless they only do that on the way down.

For this hike, we were expecting to be breaking trail the whole way up. At first I was looking forward to it. But as I walked in non broken trail for about 5 feet, I realized that would have been a bad idea. So I was really glad there was a faster group in front of us breaking a pretty good trail for us. This was pretty much how it went all the way to the top.

On the way down, more broken trail. Downhills are generally easier, and soon enough it was like charging down a nice scree slope with leaves and soft dirt to cushion each step. However, I guess I was going too heavy because I would be sinking in further than the path already laid out. And by mile 2 of the downhill, my -best guess- Tensor fasciae latae muscle was burning and in pain until the flatter portions of the trail.

Total time for this hike I believe was about 7 hours. Most of that time we were taking pictures or just playing around in the fresh powder. Lee made it up before any of us and was the designated peak greeter for the day. I think the whole hike would have taken him less than 4 hours to complete.

Lessons learned:
1. Camelbak tubes freeze up regardless if it’s insulated or if you blow the water back into the bladder. It just stops working.
2. Thinking about getting a full on bib. Falling ass first in fresh deep powder sucks.
3. Goggles! Sun glasses could work, but the wind still gets in from the sides. Goggles give all around wind protection.
4. When the powder is fresh, glissading does not work.
5. Snow baskets are key when using hiking poles. The small ones that came with my $10 Target hiking pole was ok, but still sank in.
6. The sock liner with a synthetic sock had my feet feeling like they were in a fresh pair all day.

Videos of the day below:

Just caught the aftermath on video. The story here is that Tim went ahead to take pictures of us approaching. He drops his camera in the snow, and after he picks it up, ends up losing his balance falling in. Miriam comes over to help and grabs the end of Tim’s hiking pole which comes loose and drops them both into the snow. And as you can see, it’s a whole process trying to get up with snowshoes on.

After through the trees, we finally hit the clearing. I forgot what valley this is called, but it had some pretty great views all around.

By this point, we had already gone up most of the steep stuff. We were probably less then 100 – 200 vertical feet from the top. We had also lost the shelter of the northern ridge from the wind.

Almost to the top. Less than 50′ I’d say. I think I stalled at this portion because I didn’t want it to end.

Finally at the top. It was pretty windy at times. The wind was blowing from north to south taking loose particles of snow with it. Good thing for goggles.

Traversing down.

What a terrible but entertaining idea. I was third to try it and ended up with the same results. I had also made the mistake of trying to traverse left to the main trail without snowshoes. My 70 cm ice ax going all the way into the slope, and my legs were up to my mid-thighs. After 40′, I was exhausted and just started rolling the last 20.

The tram is quite a wonderful piece of machinery. Especially with the rotating cabin. But what was most entertaining was the second of weightlessness you’d feel after it cleared a tower. The passengers got a real kick out of that.

Related posts:

East Fork to Allison Gulch, Allison Mine, & Heaton Flat Trail
Gorgonio 11 Peak Loop
Gold Dollar Mine - San Antonio Ridge - Iron Mountain Triple

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 24th, 2010 at 11:09 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.

3 Responses to “Snowshoeing up to San Jacinto via the Tram”

Bob Pratte

Bob Pratte January 25th, 2010 at 11:35 am

I am a columnist with the Press-Enterprise newspaper. I want to write something about how much snow is on top of the peak. How much was there? There often is a lot more on the peak than Idyllwild because it snows up there while raining in the mountains below. Is there a way I can contact you. Can we use one of your pictures?

Radha (Big Bear Lake)

Radha (Big Bear Lake) February 3rd, 2010 at 10:15 am

Thanks for your snowshoe information. We’re over in the next set of mountains, at a starting altitude of 7000 feet. We have a four foot base of snow.

We’re having a Snowshoe the Bear Event (Big Bear Lake) this Saturday and I wanted to blog about mountain snow conditions. We’ll be linking to your great videos.

Thanks for the tip about Camelback tubes freezing!


Marya November 3rd, 2010 at 8:34 am

Thanks for putting up these videos…gave me a good idea of what we can expect…and reminders that Gaitors are probably a good article to wear…thanks for all the tips.

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