Reading The Lookout newsletter on New Year's Day, I learned that Drury Pk had been voted down as an addition to the peaks list. Bummer. After all, I'd climbed it earlier in the day. Sure, Drury may be a pimple/wart (along with a lot of other HPS bumps), but it's a nice one, especially as a snow climb. We also need to provide those repetitive list finishers with some fresh objectives!
Bob and I thus began the new year with a fine winter dayhike from the Marion Mtn trailhead, near Idyllwild. Drury Pk was our eventual goal. Patches of white were evident at the outset, turning to solid snow cover at 7000' elevation. At 2.75 miles is the junction with the signed Seven Pines and unsigned Pacific Crest trails. Here we followed a set of snowshoe prints on a meandering track approximating the route to Little Round Valley and San Jacinto Pk. The track ended at 9200' in the draw from the north side of Marion Mtn, adjacent to the heavy chinquapin brush band which envelopes the western slopes.
I alternately kicked steps and postholed in my heavy boots, my ice axe stowed, as we pressed on. Bob followed my tracks, axe in hand to aid his slippery lightweight sneakers. The snow ranged between soft powder and breakable crust. We contoured up the gully, gaining the ridge at the 10,000' saddle west of Marion. The rocky ridge led us east to the distinctive summit notch. We clambered through this obstacle, sinking in deep unconsolidated snow, and then leveraged up a short class 5 move to emerge at the summit's familiar step across. The register indicated that we were the first to arrive since October 1997.
The biting cold caused us to tarry only briefly, still appreciating the clear views stretching to Catalina Island and the Tehachapi Mtns. It was the best simultaneous view I've ever had of snowclad Tony, Jackie, and George. We dropped down the adjacent north couloir, and surmounted a small subsidiary ridge to attain a lovely flat at 10,000'. This would make an ideal snowcamp for backcountry skiing. We traversed to the saddle east of Drury, on the ridgeline descending west from Jean Pk. Boulder-hopping and more postholing on the short ridge led to the summit "massif" and register, which recorded Bob Michael's and Alan Holden's particular enthusiasm for this pinnacle. The rumored memorial plaque was not now evident (snow-covered or absent?).
We departed Drury by contouring directly southwest to round the prominent intervening ridge. Struggling through a bit of exposed brush accompanied by a spate of foul language, we attained our earlier tracks and retraced our path in descent. At the trail junction we encountered the first other hikers of the new year. A couple was attempting to backpack, sans snowshoes, to Little Round Valley. We bade them well, after reporting on the snow conditions. A final spurt to the trailhead quickly brought us to chilled Bad Frog Lemon Ale, capping the 10 mile, 4500' day. Marion and Drury made for an excellent winter adventure.