Trip Report
2018-02 Bushwhacking to Strawberry Peak (SoCal)
Friday March 9, 2018 1:13pm
His lieback breaks away and smacks his leg, before his body traces a short powerful arc. I turtle my head and dodge a falling toaster while Kevin (Batrock) smacks into the face. FNMA (Five Nine My @ss!)

On some other minor adventure a while back, Kevin had pointed out Strawberry Peak from afar. This got my attention, as the typical 1-2 pitch scrappy SoCal day trip stuff doesn't scratch that itch the way the walls of Yosemite do. It took a while before our schedules aligned, weather not too hot, forest fires not imminent, etc. But here we finally were on a fine February day.

I suggested we try the approach via Camp Colby, which Keith Leaman mentioned in his pithy description on Mountain Project:
https://www.mountainproject.com/route/112860909/godzillas-revenge.

It didn't occur to me that hikers might have trails they follow to get up there :)

Our objective is diagonal up and right the big face:


The thing is like chasing a rainbow. In this pic we are standing on the ridge from the first pic that obscures the bottom part of the face in that pic:


So I guess we just keep heading up this ridge to the right here, and cut left somewhere?



Is this some sort of fractal thing? It just keeps looking the same as we move forward and zoom in toward the objective.


Everything is a little bigger than it seems.


Key beta: if you approach this way, keep heading up the steepening slope for about 50m of altitude gain, and you will encounter a trail that contours around and makes the going much easier. But if you just want to get more sweaty and dirty, do what we did!

Make a modified bee-line approach on what looks like a promising trail:


The whiff of trail is diminishing:








I think I see the trail just ahead…


I always make time for dew drops on spider webs, glistening on bay leaves and acorns


We find an opening, and we're feeling pretty slick when we hit a real trail (see aforementioned key beta):




But instead of staying on the trail, we again make a bee-line (see aforementioned beta again):


Note the air temp is near-freezing, but we're working up a good sweat. Just that little bit of forest ahead to reach the face:


That looks sort of like a trail:


Yep.






Luckily these pretty little sights give me moments of respite to quit sucking wind so hard:




Woo Hoo! Air temp is near freezing, my back is soaking wet, and I don't care!



The start is just to the left of Kevin in this pic. The most obvious straight up line to his right is probably best left to youngsters that don't yet have a sense of their mortality, have never seen a rock avalanche, or just plain have darker demons haunting them:


Starting up P1 of Godzilla's Revenge (matches up with the pic from Keith Leaman on Mountain Project):


It's a bit more serious than it looks at first:







I was seriously struggling on top-rope, yarding on gear as I cleaned it, maybe hanging a bit, before reaching the roof. I'm usually ok up to easy 5.10. It got a bit easier around the roof. Note the appealing finger/hand crack through the roof is very dirty/slippery and maybe moist, and it is easier a bit to the left. After clearing that roof and ambling up a bit, there is a belay station up and right with smashed hangers. From there, we chose a path back up and left following a line of bolts. Here is looking down from top of our P2 (a stance with double bolts). My pano skills leave something to be desired!


P2 required some fairly gymnastic side-pulls through an overhanging bulge, but Kevin found a way that looked easier more to the left.

A short ways up P3, the line of bolts disappears, and a fresh bunch of flattened roots show a recently departed block about the size of a car. Up above that, it looks like a bunch of roofs, with more than a few loose. Here is a bit of a decision point for us:


A better way to go from here is probably to cut out right across a sketchy loose bowling alley into better rock. We decide to use the light we have left to explore in the area rather than pushing into more looseness without a bolt kit. Heading down:












We scouted some other lines:









At first I thought these patterns in the talus were from mineral formation patterns, but I think the striations were scars from sliding on weak layers in the rock as it broke away from the face above:



We found a bit cleaner descent down the talus to the open area below:




And encountered a cool boulder that has been there longer than the mature tree leaning in the direction of Strawberry Peak (uphill right of frame):


The other side:






We managed to stay on a decent trail contouring around rather than the up and over bee-line approach we had employed in the morning:


Overall, a pretty cool area with transitional vegetation, mature oak forests, and some giant acorns:






But we had to leave the nice trail after a bit:




Just keep going ahead, a little to the right:


Almost down to one of the ridges, with easier going:


Cruisin' for a while!


Still had our share of crawling, sliding, dirt-scrabbling before we got down to the road:


All in all, not a major climbing achievement but a GREAT day enjoying the freedom of the hills. Thanks Kevin for putting the spot on my radar, and for having a great day with me. And thanks Keith Leaman for the sparse info and sandbaggy approach that helped make it a fun day (no sarcasm- legit happiness that we had enough info to point us in the direction and from there figured out what we needed). If you called that 5.9, I suspect your "was this an FA?" thread for Whitney was about as grim of a solo as it looked in your pics.

And Kevin! I saw your update in Mountain Project and you said you did that other thing in 1992? I thought you were going off of real beta from a couple of years ago, not an Alzheimer's delusion!


Pic for the thumbnail:
Credit: NutAgain!

  Trip Report Views: 2,545
NutAgain!
About the Author
NutAgain! is a trad climber from South Pasadena, CA.

Comments
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Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
  Mar 9, 2018 - 01:21pm PT
You've got to be a nut to climb that thing. Virgil Shields and Ben Chapman did it many years ago, maybe Ben will chime in here. Their report was quite entertaining.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Mar 9, 2018 - 01:32pm PT
Dude no one epics better than you! That was lovely.

We must be brothers from another mother kind of thing, eh?

Cheers
DMT
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 9, 2018 - 01:40pm PT
Yep DMT, one of these days the stars will align and we'll end up on an adventure together! Next few years I'll just be stealing short moments for adventures though.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Mar 9, 2018 - 01:56pm PT
Nice one guys!! Choss, check. Adventure, check.

D2R2

Sport climber
Earth
  Mar 9, 2018 - 02:08pm PT
That boulder looks really good. Looks like you had a nice adventure otherwise.
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
  Mar 9, 2018 - 02:11pm PT
Choss, check.

That face makes choss look good!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Mar 9, 2018 - 02:17pm PT
Sweet,
and not another monkey in sight. :)
Way to get after it Nut n Bat!
TFPU
Tad
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
  Mar 9, 2018 - 02:43pm PT
If I was with you it would have been to the summit!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Mar 9, 2018 - 03:34pm PT
Nice job that looks fun.
Levy

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
  Mar 9, 2018 - 03:54pm PT
Cool stuff! I've been curious about that face for some time. when Angeles Crest Hwy was closed from the fires and slides, we were forced to go up to the crest via Upper big Tujunga Canyon Road and I would look up there and wonder.

Where is that amazing boulder found? Judging from the graffiti, it must be somewhat close to Camp Colby or the road. I gotta get up there soon.

NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 9, 2018 - 05:08pm PT
That boulder is a few miles in, accessible via normal hiking trails from Angeles Crest side or Big Tujunga Canyon side, in Colby Canyon (as opposed to the Colby Camp Christian facility which is several ridges away).
Boulder in Colby Canyon... accessible via normal hiking trails if you ...
Boulder in Colby Canyon... accessible via normal hiking trails if you look up Strawberry Peak.
Credit: NutAgain!

Take the arrow with a grain of salt. It may actually be a bit to the right and up in this picture. This trail beta should take you exactly by it:
 https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7021022/strawberry-peak-trail
 https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7030187/colby-canyon-trail
Levy

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
  Mar 9, 2018 - 05:08pm PT
Sweet! Thanks for the info. I'll post up when I make it over there.
xCon

Social climber
909
  Mar 9, 2018 - 05:09pm PT
the taggers are hiking a lot further in than traditionally...
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 9, 2018 - 05:25pm PT
Ha, the graffiti put me off a bit too... but the spray paint is actually a trail label with trail directions to the peak - not a gang territory marker ;)
Friend

climber
  Mar 9, 2018 - 07:05pm PT
I always make time for dew drops on spider webs, glistening on bay leaves and acorns

That is an awesome photo.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Mar 9, 2018 - 07:13pm PT
That face makes choss look good!

Roger that, Gary. I flew my plane up there to check it out BITD. I was totally like,
“Are you phukking kidding me?” And I think I have some bona fide choss cred. 🤪
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  Mar 9, 2018 - 07:17pm PT
Looks sort of like fun.

That oulder looks classic though.

Someone told me that the that the Transverse ranges were among the fastest growing mountains in the world. Hence the broken rock?
Mike.

climber
  Mar 9, 2018 - 07:24pm PT
Nice job, worthy fun! TFPU.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Mar 9, 2018 - 07:59pm PT
Yes Tom I think that choss theory holds up, pun intended. Fast rising ranges shed their loose rock fast. The Nevadan mountains, the precusorsnto the Sierra Nevada, shed enough detreius to fill up the Central Valley trough up to two miles deep. All that is left of them are the ancient, solid volcanic cores, the mighty Sierra Batholith. It still sheds rocks but not quite so fast anymore. Unless ptpp is whacking them with a hammer, that is.

DMT
ClimbingOn

Trad climber
NY
  Mar 9, 2018 - 09:16pm PT
Awesome SoCal adventure climbing! I like it!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Mar 9, 2018 - 09:48pm PT
Nice work guys. I've always meant to get back there and check that out. Not sure if it's faster, but it seems like it might be easier to approach from the opposite up Colby Canyon or the Josephine Peak fire road. I've mt. biked near there but have yet to check out the climbing.
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
ne'er–do–well
  Mar 9, 2018 - 11:11pm PT
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 10, 2018 - 08:09am PT
Good effort all around!
My curiosity is now satiated.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Mar 10, 2018 - 08:24am PT
Yep DMT, one of these days the stars will align and we'll end up on an adventure together!

I'd like that. But dude, please don't take offense if I ignore or resist your route finding suggestions ;)

DMT
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
  Mar 10, 2018 - 08:36am PT
Stellar trip report, and amazing photos!
I remember going in there with Kieth one time. I recall the weather turned on us and we had to bail.
i-b-goB

Social climber
Nutty
  Mar 10, 2018 - 08:53am PT
Thx Again,
Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Peak!
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Mar 10, 2018 - 09:54am PT
You guys are nuts. Or more likely than not, nuts again ;-)

I recall the weather turned on us and we had to bail.

Saved by the bell...
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
  Mar 10, 2018 - 11:01am PT
Good work, Bat and Nut!

Levy- combine your bouldering visit with a mountain bike ride.

The rock is located in or near "Strawberry Portrero". Sort of a meadow or dry lake or natural depression. You'll ride by the boulder. The classic loop climbs the Josephine Peak fire road, then descends the single-track to the rock.

Finish the loop climbnig the Colby trail up and over to Red Box, and then scream down Gabrielino trail to Swizter's and back up to your car.

One of the finest mountain bike rides on earth.
rurprider

Trad climber
Mt. Rubidoux
  Mar 10, 2018 - 03:36pm PT
Nice trip report, NutAgain. Glad you and Bat survived to tell the tale. We have shared your pain and sweat. We hiked in from Angeles Crest Highway 2 some years back and climbed Strawberry Roan, in 4 or 5 pitches, on the west side of the north face. Perhaps the fact that all the belay stances were beneath overhangs should have foretold of the loose, shifting nature of the climbing above. Fixed RURPs and loose pins were the name of the game. The climb was a fine adventure, but that north face is a house of cards.
Edit: TLP...the approach from Hwy 2 has a good amount of poison oak along the way to the Josephine Saddle.
TLP

climber
  Mar 10, 2018 - 12:12pm PT
This adventure lacks one of the key elements of a California epic: poison oak! (Exhibit A: your excursion off of Hwy 156 in Monterey Co.) Normally it grows enthusiastically after a fire. Don't know what's wrong here.
yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
  Mar 10, 2018 - 01:58pm PT
Burly!
xCon

Social climber
909
  Mar 10, 2018 - 02:03pm PT
never bothered hiking out there
bad reports

for a while in 90 we had a geologists who was showing us around this and that location he had found

showed us clark mountain before any development

he would get all misty eyed looking at the streambed outcrops and exclaim " its like its going to move right in front of you!"
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Mar 11, 2018 - 04:04am PT
Some serious choss,
Great tr none the less,
Thanks.
Keith Leaman

Trad climber
  Mar 11, 2018 - 07:47am PT
"Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive."

Thanks for the TR and photos, guys, brings back the memories. Looks like you had a great time slogging through the chaparral. I showed this TR to my wife and she said:

"That looks like a horrible approach! Why would anyone want to climb that?" I replied: "Because it was there...temporarily." :>)

Ray Palmer spent summers at Colby Ranch, and in 1967-69 we laid up several fiberglass whitewater kayaks there for our outdoor school in Steamboat. He and I (and as Phil mentioned - several others) doggedly tried several times to find enough solid rock to climb the whole thing. We did a few other one-to-two pitch routes to the right, placing no bolts.

When Ray and I finally did the whole route in 1968/69, he hammered a pin in the overhang, lowered off, and I led the rest of the pitches, running it out, using any solid placements as a belay station - no matter how short or long the pitch. There were sections of solid rock about half way up.

RE: the approach - I vaguely recall a trail from the Camp that followed the bottom of a shallow canyon (as opposed to the ridge) which led to the large boulder. We usually took a break there, warming up on several problems, then over a saddle to the left and up a talus area to the base. It didn't seem that long of a trail, maybe an hour and 1/2.

My former Geology prof - Dr. Dee Trent taught us that the San Gabriels were growing at a rate of two inches a year. I recently saw a plastic relief topo map, made in the early 1950s, that supported his assertion. The North face is loose and dangerous, but not without its rewards, so be careful if you climb there.

KL
Ray Palmer, North Face Strawberry Peak 1968
Ray Palmer, North Face Strawberry Peak 1968
Credit: Keith Leaman

PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
  Mar 11, 2018 - 09:24am PT
Keith
I love the photo! It says it all. The shoes, the pants, the piton hammer.
We were so lucky to have climbed in those days.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 11, 2018 - 10:38am PT
Yes, Keith, that is a five-star historically relevant photograph!
roy

Social climber
NZ -> SB,CA -> Zurich
  Mar 11, 2018 - 01:08pm PT
Lots of fun!

The nice thing about stopping to take the great pictures on the way in is that it may be a very long time before anyone goes that way again.

Cheers, Roy
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  Mar 11, 2018 - 02:07pm PT
a virtuous act of discretion choosing the strenuous and frog free ridge approach ... respect ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slickenside
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 13, 2018 - 10:48pm PT
Say there, hey roy ...
I thought I might grasp the opportunity for a little thread drift and introduce myself to you.

My name is also Roy!
There aren't so many of us.

You, me, Roy Rogers, Roy Lichtenstein, Roy Batty from Blade Runner, and a few others ...

Cheers, Roy.
Roy
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 11, 2018 - 09:29pm PT
Hey Keith Leaman,
You talked of laying up kayaks at Colby. Did you ever kayak Big Tujunga? Back in the 90’s I used to kayak Big T from Camp Colby down to the reservoir. I imagine it would have been pretty tough to do in fiberglass boats but I did run into one guy C-1ing Big T in the early 90’s in a glass boat but he was doing the section above Colby which is not as steep and rocky.
JMC

climber
the land of milk and honey
  Mar 11, 2018 - 10:15pm PT
The big boulder in Strawberry Potrero is a fine piece of rock, albeit a lonely one. It is ~ 4 1/2 miles to Strawberry Potrero via Colby Camp trail, and ~ 5 1/4 miles via the Josephine fire road/saddle route. The "Strawberry loop" via mtn bike (Josephine fire road - Strawberry potrero - red box, and then back to the car via the crest hwy, or San Gabrielino trail) is, as Sewellymon says, one of the finest bike loops in the San Gabriels.

I climbed there 2006-2009 following the closure of Williamson and the ensuing desperate search for another sad pile of choss: it took us 3 years to come to the realization that its size did not make up for the death blocks and rockfall and relatively long approach. A testament to the determination of the Mendenhalls!
Poison oak is there, mostly in the talus field, and along the southern/western (uphill) flank of the face. Some hideous gnats in mid-summer too.

Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Mar 12, 2018 - 07:20am PT
A righteous effort, lads, and your TR is a wonderful morning read. It appears as if you have succeeded in finding one of those potential death choss piles just waiting for some gnat phart to bring the whole thing down. Also appreciate the wacking of the bushes, a time-honored way of proving that age is not necessarily correlated with wisdom.

About the stria on the rock face you show in one of the photos; that is slickenslides, a common feature of rock that has been faulted. Those occur on rock that is faulted at a shallow enough crustal level that all rock failure is brittle and not ductile. Since a certain amount of confining pressure is needed to create those stria, it doesn't happen as the rock is sliding down a surface such as in a rock-fall, but occurs in fault zones as one rock slides past another. The San Gabriel Mtns are probably riddled with faults if their rate of uplift is that high.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Mar 12, 2018 - 07:21am PT
And a shout-out to the Roys of the world. Tarbuster is one righteous dude playing a hard hand with grace and style.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 12, 2018 - 08:12am PT
That was a fun effort Scott, if there was an easier way in there it might be worth going back.
Credit: Batrock

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 12, 2018 - 09:01am PT
If I understood Sewellymon correctly on the telephone yesterday, there is an easier way in. IIRC, longer, but more on trail, so maybe quicker?
Popcorn at the ready, here ringside: how about you adventure types out there start gloving up for round two!

(Trail description was likely described just up thread?)
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 12, 2018 - 09:22am PT
I hiked in several years ago in the late 90's and did a climb on the right side, I think we hiked the trail in from east of Red Box but it was still a bit of a trek. With the Tunnel Crag just up the road it's just not worth it.
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
  Mar 12, 2018 - 09:24am PT
The best part is that when you do find a really good hold, you can take it with you!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 12, 2018 - 09:55am PT
Bat said:
it's just not worth it.
Ha ha.
Over the years that seems to have been the consensus, even if Scotty could beam you to the base, replete with full racks, ropes, and post-climb cocktails & companions of the fairer gender!
(... and maybe a trauma kit and an evac litter)
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Mar 12, 2018 - 10:09am PT
This thread is too hilarious - SuperTopo at its most Cali-centric OCD best! But I gotta
commend yous guys for at least going for it. If yous guys want a heinous approach to
some world class choss I would direct you to Washington state. One of my FAs up
there still hasn’t seen a second ascent (as far as I know) because the Park Service
closed the road. The lazy phuks up there won’t even walk or bike up a road to a good
trail to bag a pretty damn good route!
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 12, 2018 - 10:26am PT
Ha ha.
Over the years that seems to have been the consensus, even if Scotty could beam you to the base, replete with full racks, ropes, and post-climb cocktails & companions of the fairer gender!

I have actually flown in there a few times when I was on the fire department to check out the face, this was years after i climbed it, like any good climber you forget or choose to forget how bad it was. After flying in a looking at it from the air I convinced myself it was worth another shot. This last trip in with Nutagain brought me back to reality. Give me another few years and I am sure i will be back. There really is some good rock there. The middle section of the base has about a 50 yard swath of super good rock that would yield a number of good one and two pitch routes as long as you don't go any further above into the crap rock above. It reminded me a lot of the base of Middle Cathedral, if you squint your eyes and stand way back. Most of the face however looks good from afar but is far from good.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 12, 2018 - 01:15pm PT
There really is some good rock there.
Yes, if one is highly selective, as you say. I'm not surprised to hear it.
That photograph from Keith Lehman and your picture just above illustrates this.

I grew up traipsing the San Gabriels with a boxy frame pack, learning to climb in Bailey Canyon, several years before I was of driving age.
Just me and my buddy Doug, Royal Robbins Basic Rockcraft, a chunk of misplaced Goldline, and our twerp-ish, adolescent physiques and craniums.
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
  Mar 12, 2018 - 06:09pm PT
But I gotta
commend yous guys for at least going for it.

Virgil's motto was that you have to know your own backyard, that's why he talked Ben into going back there.
jbaker

Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
  Mar 12, 2018 - 06:22pm PT
Back in the 90s, Virgil told me about Strawberry (while we were bushwacking in to
check out some other loose face he'd seen from afar). I hiked in to check it out Strawberry, but it looked loose with scary pro and didn't seem worth hauling in a rack and a rope. Of course, Williamson was still open and there were stellar options that were new to me.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 12, 2018 - 06:39pm PT
Williamson used to be called, or referred to as Eagles Roost, IIRC.
Before all the bolts sprouted, we used to just drive up there to smoke dope and look at her.

Did do a little ice bouldering and top roping there off of what was it, Highway 36, before it fell apart?

Placed my first bolt on a crag off of that road also, with Larry Loads. Total spinner. Retreated. WTF.
Maybe a couple of you hotshot survivors with fully functioning limbs can go up there and finish the project? Er, I mean prog or whatever contraction is used nowadays.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 12, 2018 - 06:52pm PT
Williamson used to be called, or referred to as Eagles Roost, IIRC.
Before all the bolts sprouted, we used to just drive up there to smoke dope and look at her.

Thats what I always knew it as too. My dad took me climbing up there when I was 10 or 11. He used to climb there in the 1960's. It wasn't until Troy and i started working on the guidebook that we started or he started calling it Williamson Rock. I started going up there without my dad when I was 14 and started putting up routes on the main face and the summit block with whoever I could find that had a car.
i-b-goB

Social climber
Nutty
  Mar 12, 2018 - 07:17pm PT
Hey Roy,
Same, here is a scan of Eagles Roost from a photo on the backside of The Angeles National Forest map, pre-modern climbing up there. I went there early on too and even found a home made piton, I wonder if it was one of Keith or Ray's?

photo not found
Missing photo ID#525754
xCon

Social climber
909
  Mar 12, 2018 - 07:20pm PT
there was only the sam owing route on the London wall when I got there

there was an old green wine bottle on that first shelf up out of the stream bed that had been there forever and hung around quite a few years after the place got busy

right under that big pine

always wondered about the crew who'd left it behind
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Mar 13, 2018 - 07:19pm PT
I did that approach once. Up the old fire break, pick up the old trail round the mountain over the ridges to Strawberry Meadow. Recon trip. Soloed a scary class 4 gully to the summit. Not recommended.

What if Strawberry became the new "Sport Craig" haw haw.


Credit: Ruth Mendenhall
Credit: Ruth Mendenhall
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 13, 2018 - 08:11pm PT
Good work Spider!
You the man!!!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 13, 2018 - 10:51pm PT
Bailey Canyon, San Gabriel Mountains, lies just above a monastery in Sierra Madre, California.

It was a training ground for the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, which at the time of the taking of this photograph, 1975, was said to be a rescue service of world renown.
I always found that hard to believe, however, there is merit to it. But here I was, cutting my teeth as a climber.

Strawberry Peak, had we known about it and actually got in there with our 40 m Goldline, probably would've killed us!

Tarbuster, Bailey Canyon, belaying with Goldline, second waterfall, 19...
Tarbuster, Bailey Canyon, belaying with Goldline, second waterfall, 1975
Credit: Doug Munoz

Tarbuster handling the stretchy cable, Bailey Canyon, 1975
Tarbuster handling the stretchy cable, Bailey Canyon, 1975
Credit: Doug Munoz

More on the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team:

From our original beginnings in 1951 as the first Mountain rescue Team in California, today's Team carries on the same tradition of service and excellence. The Team has been on search and rescue operations throughout the western United States and in Mexico and is well know across the country. Team members have also been - and continue to be - pioneers in the devolvement of new rescue equipment and techniques that are now being used world-wide.

http://www.smsr.org/index.php/about-us-topmenu-68/team-history-topmenu-67

http://www.smsr.org/
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 14, 2018 - 05:15am PT
Nice additions all for some SoCal history! Spider, I spent some time pouring over that Mendenhall topo, and I'm having a tough time lining up features with my recollection. I'll have to go back and stare/compare in person!

What she calls the 4th class gully is probably the obvious easy looking line that just seems incredibly loose.
xCon

Social climber
909
  Mar 14, 2018 - 05:34am PT
recall the day russ Andersen showd up at Williamson
him and a few people didn't even bother with the cliffs
spent their day rappelling some of the steeper scree
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Mar 14, 2018 - 10:01am PT
Sounds like a worthwhile trip... I can now pass by and not wish to go see what it’s like. I already know.
The big boulder looks stellar.

TFPU
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Mar 14, 2018 - 10:20am PT
Ha-Ha, Tar! When we moved back to LaLa Land I ran up to Bailey Cyn and went up
the drainage until it got really nasty and angled up and right and hit the trail about a
quarter mile from George’s cabin site. I don’t recommend that route, especially in
a T shirt and short shorts. 5.9 dirt and very unfriendly flora. 🤡
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
  Mar 14, 2018 - 10:29am PT
Spider comes through with the goods. NutAgain, the Mendenhall's routes have probably all fallen off, that's why you don't recognize them?

Tarbuster, did you start at the old foundations? I've had opportunities to go canyoneering Bailey many times, but the thought of all the PO holds me back.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 14, 2018 - 01:10pm PT
Thats the same Topo RJ Secor gave me. I think I must have done Strawberry Roan or something very near it when I climbed the face in the late 90's.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
  Mar 14, 2018 - 02:36pm PT
I've looked at the north face a few times, while mt. biking and making a loop along and around the perimeter of the Peak. You ride/hike right past the cool boulder. Why you would not choose to hike in on one of the trails is beyond me.

Cool photos and TR.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 14, 2018 - 02:40pm PT
Why you would not choose to hike in on one of the trails is beyond me.
Because we thought there was a trail from Camp Colby, otherwise we would have taken the other trails. Early ascents talked about taking a trail from Camp Colby but when we got there and looked around whatever trail did exist was probably grown over decades ago.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 14, 2018 - 06:12pm PT
Reilly, Gary!

Fun to converse with people that have experience with Bailey.

As soon as Doug Munoz and I could drive, it was Stony Point and Mt. Rubidoux, and even before that, we'd have parents leave us at Joshua Tree or Tahquitz for short spells, starting in fall of '75 & early'76. So I probably haven't even been up to the site of our climbing since the summer of '75.

I don't remember any cabins or foundations at the mouth of the canyon or in the canyon proper, not before accessing the actual climbing area we used. Doug used to talk about "the cabin", which I believe was accessed from a side trail which branched out of the canyon to the right, and was positioned above what we called the third waterfall.

My recollection goes like this: from the monastery, a small trail leads up to the first waterfall, which any tourist can get to. There is a scrambling route skirting the left side of the first waterfall, which is fairly tall and sits at the back of what could almost be described as a grotto. This first waterfall often actually had water cascading down in freefall, though not with much volume. This first waterfall is maybe 30 or 40 feet high.

I think even into the late 90s there was a large dangling tree root which could assist the bit of scrambling which would take one above and left the top of the first waterfall.

The next section required getting up out of the canyon something like 30 vertical feet on the right-hand side. I went there with my nephew in the late 90s/early 2000's, and the slope there was so unstable we turned around.

After that, one would descend back down into the canyon and there used to be a very large boulder which you could either tunnel beneath, or alternatively do a fourth class or even low fifth class scramble right up the face of the boulder. Memory fails me, but it may be that the skirting of that choke point was what we would sometimes be doing up out of the canyon on the right side, to avoid said boulder, but I don't recall.

So after getting up on the right side and either avoiding that big boulder, or additionally burrowing beneath it or climbing the face of it, as the case may have been in terms of sequence or the correct relationship of those features, one would arrive at the second waterfall, which was almost always dry and was a very solid piece of granite, and flute-shaped.

There was a layback crack to the left, and I recall a way around further up and left to skirt that difficulty, so one could get to a single expansion bolt which the search and rescue placed at the top of the second waterfall.

From there we would top rope and rappel and so forth, all on the second waterfall. I'm going to say the second waterfall was about 40 or 50 feet high.

The third waterfall I never visited, but Doug and his father once went up there and described it as being possibly taller than the first two, near-vertical, more broken, maybe a bit loose, and they scrambled/climbed partway up that as a reconnaissance.

Apparently the cabin lies above the third waterfall. I may have been to that just once, using the trail that branches out of the canyon on the right, (which Reilly bushwhacked up to) and was disappointed to see that it was nothing more than a foundation.

 Gary, aren't you the guy that printed up those Super Taco T-shirts some years ago? I still have mine!
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
  Mar 14, 2018 - 03:45pm PT
Quick Google search shows they re-routed the trailhead. No longer starts at Colby Camp. Now starts directly off the Upper Tujunga Rd.

http://www.otphiker.com/hikes/435.html

Sorry guys....
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
  Mar 14, 2018 - 04:53pm PT
Batrock and I already starting bolting it!
Credit: jeff constine
rincon

climber
Coarsegold
  Mar 14, 2018 - 05:28pm PT
Because we thought there was a trail from Camp Colby, otherwise we would have taken the other trails. Early ascents talked about taking a trail from Camp Colby but when we got there and looked around whatever trail did exist was probably grown over decades ago.


Quick Google search shows they re-routed the trailhead. No longer starts at Colby Camp. Now starts directly off the Upper Tujunga Rd.

Nothing has been rerouted.
The trail starts from the parking lot by the bridge just as it always has. I've hiked it a dozen times.

The bridge is 1/2 mile before Camp Colby.

IMO the best approach to the base of the climbing wall is from Hwy 2 Colby Canyon trail up to Josephine Saddle then keep going on the trail until it gets close to the wall and viola. Alternately, from Josephine Saddle you could head up the west ridge use trail and drop down to the north face near the top. No need for bushwacking.
tamarahastie

Trad climber
Flagstaff, AZ
  Mar 15, 2018 - 12:44pm PT
This great- love the good ol' so cal bushwacking to choss. Very appreciated trip report.....need more of this asap. :)
Elmo Te

Trad climber
LA, CA
  Mar 17, 2018 - 03:37pm PT
I first hiked Strawberry as a kid from Camp Colby in the winter with snow on top and hibernating ladybugs in the trees. Later it was a RCS tradition to go there once a year as a group trip, a tradition long dead. Ben and Virgil branched out from that as I recall to do their own exploration.

Keith Lehman, when were you at Citrus? Did we know each other? Dee's pithy quotes and many great trips are some fond memories.
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