Monday, January 9

Snowboard Wright Mountain North/East Basin - San Gabriel Mts

| On PCT, getting close to our goal in back |

It was October 2016 & a small group of us were heading up towards Wright Mountain, the first of three peaks on our North Backbone Trail hike. Just before the summit, there is a place with hundred mile views in all directions to the desert & mountain ranges far beyond. This was the moment Ben turned to us & said we should snowboard off this peak when winter comes...

 | Roughly our route (drawn in) |


Fast forward to New Years 2017. Snow had fallen twice in almost the same week & that meant a decent amount of coverage for us locally. While Ben was taxiing down a runway in Colorado, I was driving south on the 395 from Bishop with my girlfriend, somehow trying to pull this off the very next morning. Alas, the sun rose, fairly rested, we were driving out to Wrightwood under grey skies.

| Straight up the ridge |

Ben had scouted a neighborhood for us to leave the "exit" car since were not going to be ending near our start point. Shuffling all the gear to the other car we headed for the ever popular Acorn Trail. Since you can't park at the actual trailhead here, we dropped our boards at the top, drove back down & made the icy & slippery ascent of the private road.

| Acorn Trail |

Right from the beginning there was lots of snow & perfect conditions. Ben would break trail & skin with his splitboard for portions of the ascent, while I postholed behind, getting my winter legs in shape. The setting was magnificent all around as we gained elevation on the ridge, at times catching a glimpse of the open basin we were shooting for.

| Pausing to look at the basin |

| About to Send It! |

After a few hours we started to crest Blue Ridge proper and get much closer to the PCT junction. This meant a majority of the climbing was done. After some food fuel & a cold beer we headed towards Wright Mountain. With five minutes of level travel we marveled at Pine Mountain. Asolutely covered in snow & Ben couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to ride it's northern aspects.

| Final look at the basin before ascending |

| Acorn Trail & PCT Junction |

| Pine Mountain - 9,648ft |

| Windy! |

The last half hour to the top of the basin was much more energy consuming than expected. The open terrain combined with the excessive chaparral made for hip deep trudging on the final push. Mt. Baden-Powell was looking exceptional from our vantage point far across the East Fork.

| Deep snow, beautiful views |

After some great encouraging words from Ben, I was strapped in & sitting on the edge of Wright's eastern basin looking all the way down to the town of Wrightwood. I pushed off with a slow start & an adrenaline fueled finish pulled it off. I don't have much backcountry snowboard experience under my belt & this trip was helping me get just what I needed. After I was set down below, Ben skinned up to the rockier chutes & got all set up. He radioed me & was off, carving in & out, between & through all the rock escarpments. The stoke was high! He had totally called this exact moment 2 months earlier.

| Looking back up after run |

Coming to a rest we both high fived & looked back up at our lines. I was elated to have a friend push me to go the extra mile & get out of my comfort zone. The snow in the lower portions of the basin looked thin to continue, but would be exhilarating come the right time. Next, the ice axes came out & we side-hilled into the canyon on the southern edge of the basin.

| Obstacles |

| Transition to hike in main canyon |

Once in the right canyon, we began to twist & carve through the maze of pines that would funnel us down into the main drainage safely. With great SoCal snow we made good pace leap frogging each other, hooting & hollering the whole way. Eventually, according to plan, we popped out on the massive boulders lining the main river bed with the sun just beginning to dim its light. I never would have thought back on that October morning I'd truly be standing in the same place, hip deep about to drop into that crazy bowl. This was a good way to start a new year of adventures.

| Hiking out |

| Looking back at the face we rode |