Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - Sourdough Mountain (winter)

Perfect weather, gorgeous views, and a reasonably strong but small group made for a great day despite turning around at 5900 feet due to slow progress breaking trail through knee-deep snow.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Below 2200' the trail was mostly free of snow, and the only obstacles were the occasional easy-to-step-over fallen tree or branch. At 3500', we left the trail and needed snowshoes for the remainder of the ascent. The constriction at 5500' was navigable but potentially precarious enough that we used our ice axes ascending its far side (see photo) and faced in when descending the same spot on our return.


Our plan was to follow the trail until it made the most sense, based on conditions and topography, to follow the typical winter route up the secondary ridgeline and avoid the avalanche terrain further along the trail. We would then follow the ridgeline past the constriction and up to the small pond where Sourdough Creek originates (now completely buried in snow), follow an eastward route up to the main ridgeline of Sourdough and, time allowing, traverse northeast to Point 6308. Time did not allow. After leaving the trail - and the faint set of bootprints that continued along it - we found ourselves breaking trail for the remainder of the ascent. The snow was moist enough to sometimes adhere into basketball-sized clumps when kicked loose and rolling downhill, but powdery enough that we were sinking knee-deep or more for most of the remaining 2400'. Six-and-a-half hours in and 5000 feet up from the trailhead found us at the point where we had planned to cross over and up to the main ridgeline. It was 1:45, and, with four hours of daylight remaining, we sat down for a brief lunch, enjoyed the pristine blue skies and the stunning views, and made our way back to the trailhead, arriving at our vehicle minutes before we would have needed to pull out our headlamps.

All in all, despite not making it all the way to Point 6308, this was a fantastic trip with beautiful views on a nearly perfect winter day. I only rate it four stars out of five because we didn't reach the summit.

Photos - 

On the ridge, Diablo Lake below - 


Looking toward Sourdough (on the right) from the point where Sourdough Creek originates; Jack Mountain(?) in the distance - 


Snow-crusted trees on the ridge -