Bighorn Peak, Sugarloaf Peak
27 June 1998
By: Erik Siering
From atop Mt Baldy on a late winter ascent, I had spied routes up Delker Canyon and Fir Draw that appeared interesting as snow climbs out of Icehouse Canyon. As the months passed I missed the opportunity of snow, so I pursued them as an early summer dayhike.
Delker Canyon is a shallow drainage leading to the ridge south of Bighorn Pk. It is accessed from the Icehouse Canyon Trail after it reaches the junction with Telegraph Wash. Leave the trail in the wide area of the canyon at 6300 ft, as the path swings north to switchback up the slopes towards Columbine Spring. Delker Cyn is evident to the southeast, presently emitting a tall waterfall onto the moraine of debris at its mouth. I bypassed the cascade on the left for a hundred feet via the steep slope adjoining a rock face. Crossing over the rock at the first opportunity above the falls, I found that a welcome snow tongue extended up the shaded canyon. This made for pleasant travel, though I took care to avoid the thin snow coverage directly over the creek. This enjoyable route may indeed be best suited for snow, as the rocky creek bed could otherwise be slow going.
The canyon continues to the ridgeline saddle. I instead departed by a side gully at 7600 ft, aiming directly to the summit and crossing en route the trail to Kelly's Camp. I startled a pair of mule deer, their apparently bemused expressions enhanced by their oversized ears. The top offered wide views of the residual snowpack that was quickly disappearing from Baldy Bowl, but still pronounced on the northern slopes of Cucamonga Pk. I dropped down the snow-filled northern gully in lieu of the bare ridge to Icehouse Cyn Saddle. This afforded long, fun stretches of standing glissades, until the snow ran out shortly before intersecting the trail below the saddle.
Fir Draw is the broad gully east of Falling Rock Canyon. I left the Icehouse Cyn Trail at 5400 ft to try my luck. The stream crossing was exciting due to the high snowmelt. There isn't much to be said for Fir Draw, other than I yet again avoided ascending the awful scree slope of Falling Rock Cyn. The route features a brushy entrance at its base, and is steep with unstable large scree. By taking the Draw high and traversing above a waterfall, I gained the 6700 ft saddle below Sugarloaf Pk. It's remarkable to see cascades in Falling Rock Cyn and a first ascent of Sugarloaf in late June. The peak needs a new register can; the present one is topless.
I descended the standard route in Falling Rock Cyn, picking my way down the base steps amid refreshing waterfalls. After another balancing act to cross the stream dry, I returned to midday hordes of hikers and ladybugs at the trailhead. Roughly 13 miles, 5500 ft gain round-trip.
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