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Galena Peak, Little San Gorgonio Peak

10-11 May 1969

By: Bob Van Allen

Leader: Bob Van Allen
Asst.: Ken Ferrell

Snow, snow, and more snow. In some ways the snow made the successful portions of the trip easier. It also prevented the trip from being completed "as advertised."

To begin with, we could only drive to the end of the paved road. Snow blocked the dirt road and we were unable to get to the campground. We started from the cars at 7 a.m. Saturday and proceeded up Mill Creek toward Galena. We crossed some spectacular avalanches.

Better than half the distance to the headwall, at the jumpoff, was on snow, covered with large amounts of debris. Rock fall is an ever-present danger in this area and we were all alert. Several were experienced but no one was injured although a less alert group might have been seriously depleted. To ascend the headwall we split into two groups to minimize the time loss and the danger of dislodged rocks. From the top of the headwall it was a beautiful snow climb all the way to the summit. Thirty-seven people made the summit (in about 4 1/2 hours) at noon only to be greeted, while we were having lunch, by dark clouds, thunder, and a few sprinkles of rain. We left the summit at 12:45 and were back at the cars 10 minutes to 3.

On Sunday, 14 climbers left at 7 a.m. for Little San Gorgonio. Shortly past the Vivian Creek Trail we headed up the unnamed creek to a ridge that joins the main Yucaipa ridge. Very steep snow slopes were the order of the day and due to very strenuous step kicking the lead was changed often. It was a beautiful, clear, warm day. All 14 made the summit at approximately 11 a.m. We basked in the sunshine for over an hour. We tried to locate the register but the snow was so deep that even probing with ice axes failed to locate the cairn.

The descent was one of the most enjoyable pieces of mountaineering many of us had experienced in a long time - some glissades and much "just right" plunge stepping. A traverse of the entire ridge was not practical; the snow there should last for a good many weeks yet to come. We returned to the cars about 2:30. Four of the 14 headed for Constance and the rest got one of those very rare early starts for home.

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