> San Bernardino…
> Big Bear Lake Area
> Big Bear South
Approach: 20-40 minutes
Morning shade & afternoon sun
Rack: Full trad rack with doubles to #3 (1-2 #4's for the offwidth 10c). A long sling for the top can be used to setup TRs.
Arctic Temple is one of the largest formations in the San Bernardinos. It has several stellar 5.10 trad climbs and is a traditional area (primarily). The tallest route is 33 meters and all the routes are long, sustained, varied, and high quality. The area seems seldom visited and the routes could use some more traffic to clean up the kitty litter and potato chips. The routes feel like FA's still and have probably only seen a handful of ascents. The routes themselves are all stellar and very enjoyable with solid cracks and good gear placements. The area is more reminiscent of Tahquitz than other Big Bear areas.
5 trad climbs in the 5.10a-d range are available as well as a single 5.9. Although there are several bolts here and there, there are NO sport climbs and all climbs require gear. Bolts are located when gear is not available and are all good quality and camouflaged.
No bolted anchors exist on top. Either downclimb a somewhat loose gully or be prepared to leave a sling on a horn or tree.
Leaving a Rap Line or anchor from the summit facilitates multiple descents instead of repeating the downclimb. A 70m is necessary to reach the ground (double rappel). Also, a TR set up (70m rope) from the highest point allows TRing all but the arete climbs.
Arctic Temple: 34°13'39.45"N, 116°59'17.91"W (or the link at the top of this page is also correct and accurate)
Bluff Mesa Campground: 34°13'22.44"N, 116°58'32.46"W
Take I-10 east (State Hwy 330) to Running Springs, CA. Take State Hwy 18 to Big Bear Lake Dam. Turn right on State Hwy 18 for 3 miles and turn on Tulip Lane. Turn right on Mill Creek Road (2N10), go 4 miles and turn right on 2N86 and.....
Fast approach: Follow 2N86 nearly to the end and take a left fork down to Moon Valley. Park and walk up a 4-wheel drive road about 0.25 miles to the end. Keep going straight into a drainage for about 100 yards. When it curves back, cut over to another drainage which becomes a stream. Follow this stream for a couple hundred yards. Find the well cairned descent gully (wide and loose) and you'll approach from the rear of the formation and can see the top of it from the rim.
If you get totally lost, just follow the plateau rim and check each gully for cairns at the start of the steep downhill.
Alternatively, to approach from Bluff Mesa Campground (not the fastest, about 45 minutes if you know where you're going):
From 2N86, turn on 2N86A to the Bluff Mesa Group campsite TOILET available at campground. Go west, following the very well trail marker posted (rappelling guy on sign) and cairned trail straight out of the campground past the campground sign all the way to a logging road near the plateau edge like you're heading for Black Bluff. Head right (north) and uphill a bit for about 10-15 minutes following logging road and the plateau edge. Don't descending the plateau rim, however, there are several very mild ups and downs. Follow the rim till you see a well cairned descent gully. Check each gully for several cairns at the start. The wall is approached from behind and is thus just barely visible till you get to it in the gully proper. Take the loose, steep gully down and the crag will appear on the right. Should only be about 200-400 feet of descent and take around 5-10 minutes of downhill scrambling / sliding.
WATCH OUT FOR LOOSE ROCKS! Don't crush your friends!
Routes from Left to Right
Arctic Temple from a the Arctic Circle road west of Big Bear Dam.
Here's the "trailhead" on the sw side of 2N86 (opposite Yellow Post 30 CG). Pass the right side of the log and head through the trees to intersect with the old dirt road.
photo-stitched image of Arctic Temple and Greg rapping back down.
Arctic Temple, Greg rappelling back down to the base
Trail to Arctic Temple.
Reminiscent of a grand, imposing temple indeed.
Arctic Temple from west descent gully.
Arctic Temple upper section with ubiquitous tree.
The cairn in the notch will lead you to the rappel, should you choose that option.
Steep middle section of the crag.
San Gabriels from Arctic Temple gully.
Hwy 18 from the top of the gully.