Ortega Hill, Ortega Peak, Reyes Peak
6 April 1968
By: Les Stockton
Leader: Larry Salmon
Sixty-seven lively peak baggers met at Cherry Creek Road, 27 miles north of Ojai, to conquer the Ortega's - hill and peak. The happy group included many famous families - the Binghams, the Van Allen's, the Redheffers, the Akawies, the Salmon's. A climb in this area is complete assurance of solitude. Our resolute leader expressed it ideally when he said "A flower child of my age never passes up a chance to freak out and take a leave of absence from the human race."
We caravanned about 3 miles to the cable across the road, and leaving our 4-wheel drives and VW's, we proceeded on foot. Passing the well hidden "trail", we tried bushwacking direct and soon found ourselves back on the road. We retraced our steps, found the "trail" and by picking our way and beating down the obstinate brush we reached the non-prominent Ortega Hill (5650') in about 1 hour. The schedule write-up stated "expect brush" but, from the looks of our lower extremities when we returned to the cars, it looked as if the brush expected us. We nursed our bruises at the cars and ate lunch in the wind - hardy souls outside - with many enjoying the Fred Bodie cuisine indoors.
After lunch we proceeded about 1 mile up the road, climbing a gully to elevation and traversing a long ridge with portions (pitches?) of rockclimbing. Ortega Peak is a legitimate mountain. Most of the brush can be avoided by staying on the left (north) side of the ridge. Ortega Hill, on the other hand, is surrounded by higher "mounds" on each side. There is no possible way to avoid the high brush and anyone who has climbed it would prefer to see it banished from the list for the benefit of those who will be following! Enough said! Other than a minor clothing split and a major ankle turn, we uneventfully returned to the cars. As it was only 3:00 p.m. further peak bagging was obvious. The road being open, we proceeded to drive up Reyes Peak for 8 miles until we were stopped 2 miles from the summit by steep snow across the access road. We donned all the cold gear that was available and climbed the cold, windy, snowy ridge to the summit, taking the gloves off only to sign the register. The group had a lot of fun and the experiences were extremely varied. Including bushwhacking, down hill running, steep contouring, extreme heat, extreme cold, sunshine, windy snow, rock and snow climbing, it was a day to remember. We reached the main highway in near darkness and, with no more peaks to conquer, went home.
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