Companion blog: Adventures In Stoving

Monday, June 29, 2015

Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters)

I recently read on Adventure 16's website that "at roughly 9,400’, Mt. Baden-Powell is the fourth highest peak in Southern California...".  Um, no.  Not even close.  By my count, Mt. Baden-Powell is the 37th highest peak in Southern California.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like Adventure 16, and I like that they're encouraging people to hike.  But Baden-Powell just isn't the fourth highest peak in Southern California.  I don't even know where they'd get that from.  I mean, what??  It isn't even the fourth highest in its own range, the San Gabriel Mountains; it's sixth after Mt. Harwood.

UPDATE 16 July 2015:  Many peaks in and near the San Gorgonio Wilderness are currently closed due to the Lake Fire.  See Lake Fire Closure Map for details.
San Jacinto Peak, 6th highest peak in Southern California
OK, so what are the highest peaks in Southern California?  Well, it depends on your definition of peak, but here's my list of summits generally called peaks in Southern California that are over 9000 feet (2743 meters) in elevation.  I'll add some notes at the bottom.  My list isn't perfect. If you think I've left something off, mention it in the comments below.
Summit sign atop Mt Baldy (Mt San Antonio), 26th highest peak in Southern California
To go along with my list I've created a topo map of Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters). You can view the map in-line below or you can open Topo Map of Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters) in a separate window.

Southern California Peaks Over 9000 Feet (2743 Meters)
(Ordered by height)
Rank Peak Name Elevation Range Source
1 San Gorgonio Mtn 11,502 San Bernardinos USGS
2 Jepson Peak 11,205 San Bernardinos USGS
3 Bighorn Mountain 10,997 San Bernardinos HPS
4 Dragons Head Pk 10,866 San Bernardinos HPS
5 Anderson Peak 10,840+ San Bernardinos USGS
6 San Jacinto Peak 10,834 San Jacintos USGS
7 Charlton Peak 10,806 San Bernardinos USGS
8 Little Charlton Peak 10,696 San Bernardinos USGS
9 East San Bernardino Peak 10,691 San Bernardinos USGS
10 Shields Peak 10,680+ San Bernardinos USGS
11 Jean Peak 10,670 San Jacintos USGS
12 San Bernardino Peak 10,649 San Bernardinos USGS
13 Alto Diablo Peak 10,563 San Bernardinos Common Use
14 East Dobbs Peak 10,520+ San Bernardinos Common Use
15 Folly Peak 10,480+ San Jacintos USGS
16 West Dobbs Peak  10,459 San Bernardinos USGS
17 Miller Peak 10,400+ San Jacintos USGS
18 Shirley Peak 10,388 San Jacintos Common Use
19 Marion Mountain  10,362 San Jacintos USGS
20 Grinnell Mtn 10,284 San Bernardinos USGS
21 Pi Peak (3.141 km elevation) 10,280+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
22 Lake Peak 10,161 San Bernardinos USGS
23 Newton Drury Peak 10,160+ San Jacintos USGS
24 Joyce Pk 10,160+ San Jacintos Colloquial
25 Mt Ellen (aka Mt St Ellens) 10,160+ San Jacintos Colloquial
26 Ten Thousand Foot Ridge 10,094 San Bernardinos HPS
27 Mt San Antonio (aka Mt Baldy) 10,064 San Gabriels USGS
28 Zahniser Peak 10,056 San Bernardinos Common Use
29 N Fork Peak 10,040+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
30 West Baldy 9988 San Gabriels Common Use
31 Fish Creek Pk 9971 San Bernardinos Colloquial
32 Sugarloaf Mtn 9952 San Bernardinos USGS
33 Hell For Sure Pk 9930 San Bernardinos Common Use
34 Tea Can Pk (aka Tea Bag Can Pk) 9884 San Bernardinos Common Use
35 Green Mtn 9775 San Bernardinos Colloquial
36 Cornell Peak 9750 San Jacintos USGS
37 Pine Mtn 9648 San Gabriels USGS
38 Mission Peak 9580 San Bernardinos Colloquial
39 Dawson Pk 9575 San Gabriels USGS
40 Mt Harwood 9552 San Gabriels USGS
41 Harvard Peak 9520+ San Jacintos USGS
42 Whitewater Mountain 9480+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
43 Lightning Gulch Point 9465 San Bernardinos Colloquial
44 Brown Peak 9400+ San Jacintos Colloquial
45 Mt Baden-Powell 9399 San Gabriels USGS
46 Wildhorse Mtn 9385 San Bernardinos Colloquial
47 Yale Peak 9360+ San Jacintos Common Use
48 Landells Peak (aka Luella Todd Pk) 9356 San Jacintos California State Park Service
49 Lost Peak 9327 San Bernardinos Colloquial
50 Galena Peak 9324 San Bernardinos USGS
51 Kristen Pk 9204 San Jacintos Common Use
52 Divide Peak 9200+ San Jacintos California State Park Service
53 Jumpoff Peak 9200+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
54 Mill Peak 9164 San Bernardinos Colloquial
55 Seca Mtn 9156 San Bernardinos Colloquial
56 Cienega Peak 9144 San Jacintos Common Use
57 Throop Pk 9138 San Gabriels USGS
58 Little San Gorgonio Pk 9133 San Bernardinos USGS
59 Sugarcube Pk 9123 San Bernardinos Colloquial
60 Onyx Peak 9113 San Bernardinos USGS
61 Triple Divide Mtn 9070 San Bernardinos Colloquial
62 Wanat Peak 9000+ San Bernardinos Colloquial
Sugarloaf Mountain, 29th highest peak in Southern California
1.  What is "Southern" California?  For these purposes, I consider Southern California to be the area comprised of the following ten counties:
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Kern
  • Santa Barbara
  • Ventura
  • Los Angeles
  • San Bernardino
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • San Diego
  • Imperial

2.  What is a peak?  I'm including peaks that are generally recognized as peaks.  By that I mean there is a name commonly associated with a particular summit.  There is no general agreement as to exactly what constitutes a peak.  For these purposes, a peak has to have at least two closed 40' contour lines (80 feet total) and preferably three closed 40' contour lines (120 feet total) before it can even begin to be called a peak. And I'm being pretty liberal.  Some definitions of "peak" require six closed contour lines.  The only exception to my "must have at least two closed contour lines" rule is if there is a USGS peak name.  If the USGS marks it as a peak, then I include it on my list regardless of how many closed contour lines there are.  I'm sure some people would argue that particular peaks on my list should be deleted and that other peaks should be added.  If you're one of those people, then feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.  I may or may not add/delete your favorite peak, but I've got an open mind.

3.  What do I mean by "source?"  Well, if a peak has a name on the maps produced by the United States Geological Survey, I so indicate with the initialism, "USGS".  If the peak is listed in the Hundred Peaks Section list, I so indicate with the initialism, "HPS".  If a peak has a name that is just a name of common use, i.e. no body or organization has conferred said name, then I simply put "Common Use".  Notice that a few sources are listed as "colloquial".  The "colloquial" designation means that some people may refer to a certain summit as a peak but that it's far from commonly accepted as a peak.  In time, these may become commonly accepted names, but for now I list these simply for ease of reference.

4.  Where do I get my elevations from?  Well, if a specific height is listed on a USGS map, I use that height.  If not, then I use the highest contour interval below the named summit.  Of course the summit is actually higher, but since I don't know how much higher, I just use the closest contour interval.  in such cases, I indicate the elevation with a plus symbol (+) next to it.  In some cases, I am aware of more accurate heights than what is listed on the USGS topo maps.  In particular, North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) elevations are used whenever they are available.

5.  Why do I use the name Landells Peak instead of Luella Todd Peak?  Well, both names have some claim to this summit, but a) Mr. Landells had a long association with the San Jacinto Mountains whereas Ms. Todd to my knowledge did not and b) Mr. Landells died while trying to rescue someone.  I think the manner of Mr. Landells death and his long association with the San Jacintos give him the better claim to this peak.  Ms. Todd was a noteworthy individual and should have a peak named in her honor, but not this peak in my opinion.  Feel free to disagree of course.

6.  With respect to Marion Mountain, there is a spot height of 10,362 feet marked on the easternmost summit.  Of course when you actually climb Marion Mountain you realize that the highest point on the mountain is the westernmost summit.  The USGS unfortunately did not list a spot height for this point.  I therefore list what I have available to me, but be aware that the actual height of Marion Mountain is greater than 10,362 feet.  See also:  Is Marion Mountain "Wrong" on the USGS Map?

7.  Why don't I include West Galena Peak?  Well, there are three very closely clustered high points atop Galena Peak, all of about the same height.  Those points just aren't far enough apart to be called separate peaks.

8.  Why do I place Fish Creek Peak where I do (on Ten Thousand Foot Ridge)?  Some people place Fish Creek Peak over on the eastern flank of Lake Peak, but the point they mark, elevation 9942, doesn't even have one closed contour line.  FAIL!  This is just not a peak.  I mark Fish Creek Peak over on Ten Thousand Foot Ridge where it belongs.
San Jacinto Peak, 6th highest peak in Southern California

I hope you find this list useful,


San Gorgonio Mountain, highest peak in Southern California

Friday, June 19, 2015

Lake Fire – San Gorgonio Wilderness

UPDATE 16 July 2015:  Many areas in and near the San Gorgonio Wilderness are currently closed due to the Lake Fire, but the Forest Service has opened much of the southern portion of the wilderness (which did not burn).  See Updated Lake Fire Closure Map for details.

Lake Fire, San Gorgonio Wilderness, June 2015
It is with deep regret that I must announce that the San Gorgonio Wilderness currently has a large fire burning in it, the Lake Fire.  The entire wilderness is closed.  All wilderness permits are cancelled.  If you have camping reservations that you have paid for, my information is that you should contact the issuer of the reservation for a refund.

Updates, 6/26/2015, 0800 Hours
A new fire perimeter map has been issued.  There is a lot of fire grown in the East Northeast sector of the fire; this is outside the San Gorgonio Wilderness.  The good news for the San Gorgonio Wilderness is that the fire within the wilderness did not significantly penetrate new areas.  However, MODIS thermal (i.e. heat) sensing indicates a lot of active burning in the N Fork of the Whitewater River area.  MODIS also indicates buring in the vicinity of High Meadow Springs.  I continue to hold out hope that High Meadow Springs, a very lovely area that I've camped at multiple times, will not burn.  For MODIS information, refer to the interactive maps, below (several paragraphs down).  Areas of active burn are indicated by red dots.  MODIS data is not particularly precise, so don't freak out if you see a red dot in an area far outside the perimeter.  I'll put an excerpt of plotted MODIS data below this morning's perimeter map.  The excerpt is just for the N Fork Whitewater River area and vicinity.

More good news:  No further burning on the flanks of San Gorgonio Mountain is indicated.  It would be a true shame if the krumholtz forest (pines dwarfed by harsh conditions at high elevation) atop the high peaks of the San Gorgonio were to burn.  It would take centuries upon centuries for such a fragile high elevation forest to regenerate.
Lake Fire Perimeter Map, 06/25/2015 0600 hours
MODIS data plotted on a 1:24,000 topographic map.  Data current as of 0800 on 6/26/2015
There's still a lot of active burning going on.  This is far from over.

Updates, 6/25/2015, 2300 Hours
No map updates have been issued, but the Lake Fire has now grown to 25,599 acres (yipes!) and containment has shrunk to 19%.  Containment was up around 40% a couple of days ago, but wind direction changed and the fire turned sharply north.  7,390 structures are considered threatened, but no structures have been lost.
Even though no map updates have been issued, MODIS thermal (i.e. heat) imaging is up to date and one can see that activity has decreased in the N. Fork of the Whitewater area, but there is still a lot of activity.  It looks like Lake Peak has completely burned over which is a real shame because it was really beautiful on top, deeply forested.
To the north, the fire has really mushroomed and spread.  The north eastern sector of the fire may turn out to be as large or larger than the original fire sector in the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

Updates, 6/25/2015, 0600 Hours
1.  The Lake Fire has now burned the east flanks of San Gorgonio Mountain.  The Sky High Trail has been burned over in multiple spots.  The fire has also burned up to about 10,000 feet on the east flank of Bighorn Mountain.  It's a sad day for San Gorgonio Wilderness lovers.
Lake Fire Perimeter detail, vicinity San Gorgonio Mountain, as of 25 June 2015, 0600 hours.
2. The fire has also advanced considerably to the north overnight and has now burned into Pipes Canyon.
Lake Fire perimeter map, 06/25/2015, 0600 hours.

Updates, 6/24/2015, 1800 Hours
1.  The Lake Fire today made a dramatic end run around containment lines and burned about three miles to the north.  Camp Oakes on the north side of Onyx Summit was evacuated.  This is a very serious development.  KML files have not been posted to the public server, so I'll add a static map here.  The fire also burned more of the North Fork of the Whitewater River and Hell-For-Sure drainages.  I looks like it also moved a little bit further down the South Fork of Mission Creek.  I've placed blue rectangles on the map below that indicate areas where the fire is growing.
Lake Fire perimeter map as of 6/24/2015, 1800 hours.

2.  A Forest Order was issued today that closed the entire San Gorgonio Wilderness and also closed non wilderness areas to the east until October 1, 2015.  Closing the entire wilderness, particularly those areas not touched by the fire, seems overly Draconian to me.  The closed area is mapped below.
Forest Order 05-12-51-15-03, the Lake Fire Closure area.  Everything is closed in the SGW, even areas outside the burn.

Fire Progression Map of the Lake Fire, 6/24/2015.
Here is a map of the progression of the Lake Fire.  Green indicates the oldest burn.  Red indicates the newest burn.  There's a lot of new burning in the North Fork of the Whitewater River area.  Alas, it now appears that Mine Shaft and Big Tree Camps are toast.

The silver lining here is that maybe the long brush choked Big Tree Track (a short cut from Mine Shaft Camp to Big Tree Camp) may become passable again.  It might also be possible to venture down the North Fork from Big Tree Camp.  Previously, it was darned near impossible to go downstream from Big Tree because the brush was so thick.
Fire Progression Map of the Lake Fire as of 6/24/2015, 0600 hours.
Green = oldest; Red = Newest

Time Lapse Video of the Lake Fire 

Topographic Fire Map
An interactive map of the fire is displayed below.  You will need to zoom way in to make any sense of it.  This is my Interactive San Gorgonio Wilderness Area Map with the Lake Fire burn perimeter shown in gold color cross hatching.  I like it because I can see where things are a lot better on a topo.

It's a little cluttered because I have a lot of trails and camps marked.  I'll put a clearer image down below if you just want to see the burn area and the topo map.

Trail Camp Status 6/25/2015 (assuming the maps are accurate) from generally west to east:
Jackstraw Springs:  OK
Trail Fork Springs:  OK
Anderson Flat:  Possibly burned (can't tell from map as of 6/24/2015).
Shields Flat:  Burned.
High Meadow Springs:  Possibly burned (can't tell from map as of 6/24/2015).
Red Rock Flat:  Burned.
Dollar Lake:  Burned.
Dry Lake View:  OK
Grinnell Ridge:  Burned.  By the look of it, pretty badly (based on photos I've seen).
Dry Lake:  Burned.
Lodgepole:  Burned.
Trail Flat:  Possibly burned (can't tell from map as of 6/24/2015).
Summit:  OK, but threatened
Fish Creek Saddle:  Burned.
Fish Creek: Burned
Mineshaft Flat:  Burned
Big Tree:  Burned.

9 trail camps definitely burned.
3 trail camps possibly burned
12 out of a total of 25 trail camps (48%) have burned or have possibly burned.
Note:  This represents my best guess based on the available maps.

Red = burned.
Yellow = possibly burned.
Green = unburned.

Trail Status 6/25/2015 (assuming the map is accurate) from generally west to east:
Forsee Creek Trail:  Minimal Burning along some of the easternmost switchbacks.
San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail:  Burned over in three places.
     1.  Between Anderson and Shields Flat
     2.  Near Alto Diablo
     3.  Most or all of Red Rock Flat
South Fork Trail:  Burned.
Dollar Lake Trail:  Burned all the way to Dollar Lake Saddle.
Dry Lake Trail:  Burned up to and past Dry Lake.  Trail Flat might not have burned (yet).
Santa Ana River Trail:  Burned along much of its route from vicinity South Fork Campground east to the Heart Bar area.
Lost Creek Trail:  Burned.
Fish Creek Saddle Trail (from Lodgepole Spring):  Burned.
Fish Creek Trail:  Burned.
Sky High Trail:  Burned.  The fire has now crossed the Sky High Trail in multiple places.
North Fork Meadows Trail:  Burned (majority)
Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):  Burned over a ~six mile stretch to the east of the San Gorgonio Wilderness

Yes, I know the PCT is outside the wilderness, but it's an important trail.  Same with the Santa Ana River Trail.

Topo Map Without All the Clutter.
So, maybe you don't want to see all of my trail camp, trail, etc. markings.  Here's a hopefully clearer map using Gmap4 which is maintained by Joseph Elfelt.  You can also open this map in a separate page.   The green line is the San Gorgonio Wilderness Boundary.  The bright red dots indicate that MODIS (satellite based infrared) thermal sensors are picking up heat.  They are NOT very precise, but they do indicate fire activity somewhere in the general vicinity.

Appendix – US Forest Service PIO Maps

23 June 2015, 1800 Hours.  See comments below image.
Lake Fire Perimeter Map as of 1800 hours 23 June 2015
The fire is active on the east side of Ten Thousand Foot Ridge and in the drainage of the North Fork of the Whitewater River.  The fire has now crossed the North Fork of the Whitewater River.  There is also active burning west of High Meadow Springs and in the Coon Creek drainage.

23 June 2015, 0600 Hours.  See comments below image.
Lake Fire Perimeter Map as of 0600 hours 23 June 2015
The latest PIO fire perimeter map shows growth in the Big Tree area as well as east to the Coon Creek Jump Off area which is consistent with what the MODIS sensors are report.  It's hard to tell from the map, but Big Tree Camp may now be toast.  The fire is clearly threatening it.  It wouldn't bother me in the least to have all the brush in the North Fork of the Whitewater River drainage cleaned out.  That is some dense, nasty stuff.

22 June 2015, 0600 Hours.  I've highlighted some areas with green rectangles.  See comments below image.
Lake Fire Perimeter Map as of 0600 hours 22 June 2015
Comments on the above highlighted areas from left to right:
1.  It looks like there's been a bit more growth on the south side of the divide near Anderson and Shields Flats, but it's been minimal.
2.  There's been more burning in the Dry Lake area.  The fire has gone up into the "glacial chop country" (the moraine fields west of Dry Lake.  It looks like Dry Lake is nearly encircled.  This doesn't look good for the Dry Lake and Lodgepole trail camps.
3.  The fire on the south side of Ten Thousand Foot Ridge appears to have grown, but only slightly.
4.  There's been some growth to the fire on the eastern edge, particularly around Coon Creek Cabin and Coon Creek Jump Off.

General comments:  Notice the solid black line on the northern edge of the fireline.  It looks like the USFS has a pretty high degree of confidence in the solidity of the fire line in this area.

21 June 2015, 1400 Hours.  I'll make comments on the progress of the fire below the map.
Lake Fire Perimeter Map as of 1400 hours 21 June 2015
I've drawn several rectangles in bright green on the above map.  Notes from left to right:
1.  You can see that the fire overtopped the main divide of the wilderness between Shields Flat and Anderson Flat.  The incursion was relatively limited.  The status of High Meadow Springs, Shields Flat and Anderson Flat trail camps is unknown.
2.  You can see that Dollar Lake has been overrun by the fire, but it looks as though the fire did not cross the divide.
3.  It looks like Lodgepole and Trail Flats Camps were spared, but it's hard to tell from this map.  Dry Lake Camp doesn't appear to be shown; its status is unknown.
4.  The fire went up toward Fish Creek Saddle and appears to have burned all the way to the saddle.  The status of Fish Creek Saddle trail camp is unknown.  Part of the west face of Lake peak has also burned in a spot fire.  It appears that the summit of Lake Peak did not burn.
5.  A fairly large incursion went over Ten Thousand Foot Ridge and into the drainage of the N Fork of the Whitewater river, but it looks like Mineshaft Flat and Big Tree Camps were not affected.  I think.  It's hard to tell based on this map which is none to clear.