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The North Face of Mt. San Jacinto via Snow Creek - Vertical Nomads

The North Face of Mt. San Jacinto via Snow Creek

The North Face of Mt San Jacinto via Snow Creek

Ice, Alpine, 10000′, Grade V
San Jacinto Mountains/Riverside County, California
10,834 ft (3,302 m)


The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this on this earth.
~ John Muir



A view of Mt San Jacinto’s North Face rising 10,834 ft (3,302 m) from the desert floor. Our route went directly through the major escarpment visible in the picture and the couloir to the right of the summit block.We did this entire climb from here to the top in 17 hours the day before!



On Saturday, April 1st, 2017 Chris and I attempted a one-day assault on the North face of Mt. San Jacinto via Snow Creek route. The North Face of Mt. San Jacinto is a giant behemoth of rock and ice that rises from the desert floor 10,834 ft. Its sheer rise has no comparison in the lower 48 states. The route has a tremendous vertical gain of 9,600 feet in less than 5 horizontal miles. Owing to its difficulty and accessibility, throughout the climb I did not see another human being, other than my climbing partner, Chris! One of the most challenging climbs I have done recently.

This route involves cross-country hiking, bushwhacking, boulder hopping, rock climbing (free solo), snow travel, ice climbing up to AI2 (under current conditions) and a considerable amount of route finding and navigational skills. We started at around 2:00 am and successfully summited at 7:00 pm.

With the tremendous amount of snow on the mountain, the sun going down and footprints leading in all directions we could not find our way to the aerial tram station and had to bivy under a tree at 9,000 feet. We used bows of trees and emergency bivy gear. The temps dipped below freezing at night and the winds picked up.Needless to say, it was a COLD night. Next morning while unsuccessfully looking for the tram station we met up with Matt, a hiker also from San Diego who had come up another route but could not find the route to the summit. When we shared our odyssey with him, he recommended an easier alternative to get down i.e. to take the Marion mountain trail. Heeding his advice we took Marion Mountain trail back to his car before getting a ride back to Palm Springs. Thanks to Chris my partner in crime, Matt for giving us a ride back to our cars, to Gus and Eric for their help and trip reports. 


The first view of San Jacinto, we had already been hiking for about 4 hours.

Mt San Jacinto, we had already been hiking for about 5 hours.

The first view of snow and the actual snow creek route. Woohoo! At this time we had now been going for about 10 hours. 

The famous Choke Stone 

Chris free soloing the rock route I took up past the choke stone. 50-60 feet (5.4-5.5)

Chris enjoying a drink after that free solo.

Starting up on 4,000+ feet of snow & névé couloir.

This is a crevasse on the couloir névé. 

A crevasse in SoCal! 

The start of 4,000+ feet of snow & névé couloir and the desert floor down where we started. I could almost see the parking lot where we left our cars.





Now at about 8,000 feet, still can see the parking lot where we left our cars.

Chris at the start of 800+ foot of alpine ice AI2. 

Two tools from here on in, to the summit.

Summit Picture

Summit shot at about 7 pm

Summit shot at 7 pm

 Various Stages of the Climb:
◊ 1,100 – 5,740 feet: Cross country, bushwhacking, boulder hopping and a considerable amount of route finding.
◊ At 5,740 feet: 60 feet of rock climb (5.4-5.5)
◊ 5,800 – 9,900 feet : 4,000+ feet of snow & névé
◊ 9,900- 10,834: 800 feet of alpine ice (AI2)
Final Stats
Total time car to summit: 17 Hours
Total elevation gain and loss: 19,468 ft

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