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Iron Mountain #1, Mount San Antonio

19 April 1996

By: John McCully


Leaders: Ron Hudson and John McCully

Over the last 20 years I've heard of several occasions when folks have bagged Baldy (10,064) and Big Iron (8,007) in a single day. Four of Bill T. Russell's 19 annual HPS climbs of Big Iron included doing Baldy, usually taking 10 or 11 hours. Jim Roberts led it for the HPS in 1982. Ron Bartell and Christine Mitchell did it as a private hike in 1986, swapping car keys with Wendy and I on our way up, thus eliminating the 45 minute car shuttle between Manker Flat (6,200) and Heaton Flat (2,000) for both parties. Around 1980 Dale van Dalsem and Bobcat Thompson tossed in Pine and Dawson on the hike, unwinding with the mother of all car shuttles.

But the big gain (9,500') from the West is intimidating for doing Iron and Baldy and I don't recall anyone scheduling these two peaks as an HPS hike from that direction, so Ron and I decided to give it a go. The fifty something leaders were joined by four forty somethings, Bruce Trotter from Orange County and three very strong new women hikers from San Diego - Sue Holloway, Judy Hummerich and Virginia Calimlin. These woman wanted to do Baldy from the West as part of a training program for a Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim (that's over and back!) event, a 48 mile 10,000 foot extravaganza in which one tries to finish in less than 24 hours. The NPS frowns on organized events in the parks so the thing is completely unorganized. Folks from all over the U.S know from newsletters and word of mouth that the 18th of May is the day to happen show up on the South Rim. If I ever tried such a thing I would end up being hauled out on the back of one of those ubiquitous Grand Canyon mules.

We left Heaton Flat at 6:15, with half the cars waiting for us at Manker Flat. Each of us had light shoes and light packs except for the water. Iron fell in four hours and forty minutes, and while everyone else chowed down during the long break I took a nap. First snow was on the north side of the ridge east of Iron's summit. It took well more than an hour to work through the several class III areas to the east of Iron. The brush on the ridge is worse than it was 10 years ago, but three of us wore shorts anyway. The weather got a little windy for a while, but it basically was excellent, not hot. There was snow on the west side of BaIdy that was mostly avoidable. Moderate snow appeared on top of BaIdy but the surface was firm for walking and not icy. Six hours after leaving Iron we topped out on Baldy, and we got to Manker Flats 13 hours after starting, but well before dark. No problems on the trip. Most of us drank between 2-1/2 and 4 liters of water.

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