Mountaineering – Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon: Extreme Edition 1/15/11

Today’s objective was to start at Manker Flats parking lot and end up at Icehouse Canyon. As for the route, we kind of made it up as we went along. So it was going to be one those hikes.

We started at 7am and headed up Big Butch Wash. The path itself required some boulder hopping which made it a fun way to start. Near the end of wash, we spied Lightning Coliour and decided to give it a shot. That is until we saw all the rocks falling from it which made there way over to us.

We quickly left our anti-rock shelter and made our way up a safer turnoff towards Thunder mountain.  We hiked up about a quarter mile and found a chute which looked decent enough. So upwards we went.

The chute itself was a lot like the Baldy Bowl. The snow was soft and at times we had to posthole on up. But for the most part, it was uneventful. Which is good. I even had that moment you get when surrounded by nature. Which totally made waking up at 5:30 worth it.

We gained the ridge and headed up to Thunder mountain where we got to see some brightly dressed skiers and snowboarders. We took a short break up here and planned out the route some more.

Telegraph Peak was the next destination. From Thunder it didn’t look too bad. But as we descended to the saddle, it turned out to be decievingly deceptive.

After much planning and consideration. We decided against taking the NW route in favor of exploring the NE face. This is the steeper route, and more technical.

An avalanche was probably the greatest risk today. The top layer of snow was pretty soft and fractured in good sized chunks as we traversed. So we set up a system of crossing on at a time and keeping eyes on each other and for falling rocks.

The traverse for me was a bit more difficult. Tim had broken the trail across, but with me weighing in at about 215 pounds including the pack, I would just sink in further. This was pretty tiring. By the time I met up with Tim at the base of our target, I was wiped.

Five minutes and a few sips of Gatorade later, we started up. The snow was the same as the first chute. Tim and I took turns breaking trail and implemented our “rock watch” leap frogging system.

As we climbed up, the slope just got more and more steep. Which was to be expected when we looked at the route from the bottom. But as always, the route looks scarier from the bottom. But it’s the scariest once you’re up there.

During our initial assessment from the base, we knew the last 100′ would be steep. But when we got to the transition from steep to steeper, we were right.

At this point, the chute we went up started getting icy and really steep. I really had to kick in to break the ice and swing the axe like real weapon to get some a grip. On the plus side, there was a nice tree that I could grab on to and grip.

After what seemed like endless climbing, we finall made it to the top. The view from there was one of the best I have yet. It was quite amazing!


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The next objective was Timber. This would be the third peak and about another 600-700′ of gain. We looked down one of the canyons and decided to cut the route short. Looking back, this was probably more tiring than a climb up to Timber would have been. Lesson for the future, don’t cross country over snow covering rocks. It was punch through central.

After 11 hours, we finally made it back to the parking lot at Icehouse Canyon. Objective complete.

Here’s a great video that Tim put together that summarizes the day.

Mountaineerin Manker Flats to Icehouse Canyon – Extreme Edition

Lastly, do not try this route unless you have experience and are with someone who is trained. Chances are, I would have frozen or gotten stuck at some point.

Related posts:

Santa Anita Ridge & Upper Winter Creek Trail loop
Mt. Baldy via the Big Horn Ridge
Sheep Fire

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2011 at 9:59 pm and is filed under Photography, Trip Report, Winter Hiking/Mountaineering. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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