For a year I have been thinking off and on about “The Volcano” aka “Don’t Do It Peak”. To get to this peak, first you have to descend into the San Gabriel Wilderness. Last time, I had come upon a 20 foot rock wall I did not want to go down:
I was thinking that perhaps I could get around to the right if I tried again. I wasn’t in the mood for any long freeway driving or long hikes in the heat (we are having a heat wave), so I thought I would go look again at this. It involves a descent of the gully about 1000 feet, then of course back up which was about what I wanted to do. I would follow this with a nice breakfast at Newcomb’s Ranch. I took a 50 foot nylon rope, but no rappelling (abseiling) gear since I didn’t want to get that serious.
I left the car at 0545, and started the descent from the saddle at 0600. After 50 minutes or so, I got down to the 20 foot wall. Sure enough, after observing carefully on the right I found I could descend on that side with little trouble. Feeling pretty good, I continued on. After a few minutes I saw light through the brush up ahead and I am thinking “Good grief! Not again!”. There was another drop to descend, this time 50 or 60 feet (15-20 meters)!
To the left there is a dirt and rock chute with a very steep start. Throw an abseil rope around one of the trees in the upper left if you want…the chute is behind those bushes.
For me, the right and left routes would need a proper rope (100 feet+) and abseil gear. There are good trees for anchors at the top of both. I would also want to be prepared to Prusik back up – this entails using loops of rope with friction knots to climb back up the main rope. I think the left route would be the best bet.
Tim K6TW and Bryan N0BCB must have used their enthusiasm to get down without a rope one way or another! They did come back another way (that actually proved very hard!)
I observed I was at an elevation just below a “bench” on the peak, shown on the map by a square. My estimated position is marked by the target circle. Red dots mark the ascent of Tim and Bryan from their gpx file.
I spent a while resting, thinking, and drinking water…eventually the mosquitoes drove me back up. By the way, at the top of this cliff I noticed a cigarette butt so maybe someone had come here for a smoke! Or maybe it had been washed down the gully….I had observed some boot marks in the gravel during my descent.
Climbing up, I climbed straight up the 20 foot rock wall; it is much easier to climb up than to climb down.
Some fairly fresh bear scat, I think…
And I ended this adventure with a great breakfast at Newcomb’s Ranch: 3 eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, toast and hash browns!
And perhaps I will keep exploring for this strange SOTA peak, we shall see…
Postscript November 2016
Since writing this, “The Volcano” has been climbed twice: see peakbagger.com, Peak 6320. Dave Benson climbed the peak on 10 June 2016 and left a register at the top. Via email, he said that from the top of the big step he climbed 100 feet up the side of the gully, then traversed through chaparral over to the saddle, then up the steep ridge to the top. He left a register at the top.
On 8 October 2016, Chiky De Las Torres climbed the peak: at the big step he rappelled down, then tried side-hilling over towards the saddle; this proved too difficult so he descended back to the main gully then back up left to the peak when it became possible again, following a route similar to Tim and Bryan. His rappel took him down the big step on the left where are are two chutes; he took the leftmost chute. Coming back up he said there was a class 4-ish move.