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Bighorn Mountains

10 January 1996

By: Jerry and Nancy Keating


Who would have predicted shirt-sleeve climbing in early January on the northeast fringe of the San Bernardino Mtns? Not the weatherman, but four HPSers demonstrated their savvy by choosing this date for a balmy climb from Bighorn Canyon.

Not a cloud appeared in the sky, and visibility was unlimited all day.

We proceed up canyon past a dry waterfall, then turned west into a wash that went easily until it became quite rocky. After scrambling to a sandy platform beyond, we abandoned the wash and climbed on ridges to Pt 5641', then continued westward on easier terrain to the summit plateau. Much to our surprise, as well as theirs, two motorcyclists were enjoying the view from just beyond the summit (5894'). Apparently unaware of the vehicle prohibition, they had come up via old roads starting in Rattlesnake Canyon.

On descent, we climbed back over Pt 5641', but did not drop into the wash used on ascent. Instead, we headed further east on an easy ridge, then dropped directly into Bighorn Canyon via a rather steep, boulder filled gully. Total gain for the day was approximately 2,400 feet. Besides the leaders, the participants were Tom Hill and Neal Scott.

The driving instructions for this route in the May 1992 guide sheet are erroneous. Here is what we recorded: From California Hwy 247 in Johnson Valley, take Bighorn Rd (graded) south 2.0 miles to Cholla Ave. Turn left (east) on Cholla (also graded) and proceed 0.4 mile. Turn right (south) and proceed 1.5 miles into Bighorn Canyon where there is ample parking. 4WD vehicles can proceed another 0.1 mile up the canyon, but the additional drive in sandy terrain isn't worth it.

Another way to reach the roadhead is to turn right (east) at the intersection of Bighorn Rd. and Cholla. After about 100 yards, turn left (south) and join the other road in the bottom of Bighorn Canyon. The first part of this option has a firmer surface than the other, but it also has more rocks. From the junction of the two dirt roads, the parking area is 0.4 mile farther up the canyon.

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