Elevation: 7,368 ft
GPS: 33.761, -116.679 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 6,818 total · 419/month
Shared By: Joshua Reinig on Dec 6, 2018
Admins: C Miller, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

It does exist?

Ice climbing is as much of a myth and urban legend at Tahquitz and surrounding areas as the exploits of The Stone Masters. If an ice pillar falls in the mountains and no one was there to see it, did it really form? As the classic saying goes the best ice tool in these parts is a fast car, Ice can melt out faster than it can take to form so maybe even a fast motorcycle!
It is difficult to put into perspective the alpine sickness one must have to go through, with the measures it takes to ever find anything other than endless sleepless nights, post holing waist deep in powder for miles at 1:00 am. Sometimes you find Ice, some times you do not but the process, the adventure and all the jubilation of emotions you go through is really what alpine climbing is all about. Tahquitz and its surrounding satellite crags can become extremely alpine in the right conditions and water ice can exist. It's just a matter of how bad do you really want it and know that you will learn from the experience regardless.
With over 5 WI flows up to 1000' in length that can form on Tahquitz and at least 6 that can form on surrounding crags the conditions have to be crazy perfect. Almost no matter what accept in the fattest of conditions most routes are mixed in nature. Having personally climbed 8 of the 12 known routes I can contest to all the variables involved to make any of this exist and took me the better part of ten winters to tick them all off. I will do my best to share that beta here I have collectively experienced through many wondrous winter adventures in the Tahquitz back country.

Getting There

It's not so much the where as the when. As many have mentioned on MP before me it takes a lot of snow with just the right freeze and thaw conditions. With Global Warming becoming more and more prevalent it is almost a joke to add this to MP as much as it is to think of Global Warming as being a joke. What do perfect freeze and thaw conditions look like in So Cal and when does this usually happen has always been a huge variable to So Cal winter alpine climbing. Southern California winter alpine climbing in itself is some what paradoxical. Each year it is definitely getting more and more sporadic and the models I used to use are becoming fewer and fewer between. In general you need at least three big dumps from Bering Strait storms within a month of each other with Santa Ana driven freeze and thaw conditions afterward. These are cold winter driven storms coming down from Alaska and take a lot of energy to make it past point conception to dump in our local mountains. Ice will be a given during any big El Nino winter. Typically what you will see here are very strong tropical storms coming from the south being very wet in nature. The tropical storms here you want to pay the most attention to are the Pineapple Express storms coming up from Hawaii that will occasionally collide with the Bering Strait storms I mentioned earlier. In General if you see this weather pattern outside of an El Nino winter and there is already a base layer of snow there will be Ice.
Super Alpine starts are imperative due to the nature that the only times it stays constantly below freezing is at night and the thawing occurring during the days is what feeds to the flows when they do come in. Take extreme caution while touring the Others formations as many of the gullies can become unstable avalanche terrain!

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