Friday, April 20, 2012

Mt. Islip Snow Hike - 4/15/12

We were grossly deprived of snow this year in these stubbornly dry San Gabriel Mountains and only got in a grand total of two snow hikes over the course of this 2011-2012 winter season... until last week when Tlaloc finally decided to grace us with the snow storm we were so desperately awaiting.

We were planning to revisit Mt. Baden Powell to get our last glimpse of snow before it all melted, and we were expecting the usual measly few inches of snow that we've gotten used to over the last few months.

Our hike started out at the ever-crowded Crystal Lake Campground and as soon as we stepped out of the car, it was time for the microspikes. (And time for the better-prepared among us to grab the snow shoes and ice axe.) We slowly made our way through the campground to the Windy Gap trailhead to get the snow party started. The ranger manning the parking lot warned us that we wouldn't make it to Baden Powell with our minimal gear, but we scoffed in his naive face and continued on our journey.

We were planning on bagging Throop, Hawkins, Burnham, and Baden Powell, but it quickly became obvious that naive parking lot ranger was right. Our new destination was now Windy Gap to Mt. Islip.

Sal to the rescue
We tried to follow the Windy Gap Trail, which is aggressively maintained by the good folks who volunteer with the San Gabriel Mountain Trailbuilders, but it was buried under several feet of snow and nowhere to be found. We ended up on a steep chute that wouldn't have been possible to cross without our well-equipped hiking buddy creating a trail with his snowshoes and ice axe.

After an exhaustingly steep half mile, we ended up at the saddle between Hawkins and Islip. From there, we descended another half mileish and found an unusually frosty Windy Gap. Another strenuous mile and we were on top of Mt. Islip where we were greeted by a pair of crazy peakbaggers checking out the crazy spectacular views. It's only 8250', but isolated enough to show you some amazing shit.

The descent involved lots of glissading, self-arresting and post-holing, and we finally made it back to the campground. Farewell, San Gabriel Mountain snow. Until next year.

Up to the saddle

Islip summit

Amazing shit


  1. Very nice! Guess that means when I was looking north from Smith Mountain, thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of snow!" you and your friends were tromping through it. Crazy bastards. ;D

    I hiked Mt. Islip 50 weeks before you, when there was a whole lot less snow. But there was still a bit on top, and Mt. Baldy looked nice.

    Glad I didn't try hiking Islip this weekend. It's still gotta be impossible for regular old hiking boots. On the other hand, I'd bet Lewis Falls would look great. . . .

  2. Totally jealous of this... Awesome post!