Triplet Rocks, Twin Peaks
21-May-94 (Private trip)
By: Erik Siering
Forget Iron Mtn, Rattlesnake Pk, Ross Mtn. The definitive local deathmarch is Triplet Rocks. Strikingly similar in terrain and appearance to the top of El Picacho del Diablo in Baja Mexico, this is the most remote and also the most difficult peak in the San Gabriel range. It is the rocky outcropping at the end of the prominent rugged ridge extending southeast from Twin Peaks. Clearly visible from Twin Peaks as well as from along Angeles Crest Hwy, it bears its moniker for its three massive summit boulders (twin, triplet...get it?). Infrequently climbed for good reason, it involves about 16 miles and 6000'+ rt from Buckhorn, taking our party 13 hours (without my west Twin sidetrip). The route unknown, we brought a rope which went unused. The combination of repeated ups and downs, dense brush, loose broken ridge, exposed Class 3, and a fine summit block made for a satisfying and tiring adventure.
Bob, Asher and I set out on trail at 7:00 A.M., reaching the top of Twin Peaks two hours later. Don't even think about Triplet Rocks if it takes you longer to get here; you'll use the remaining daylight on the ridge. The objective appeared nearby, at 3.0 miles hence. Asher and Bob graciously waited as I ran over to the top of west Twin Peak (they'd been there before). We then dropped towards Triplet Rocks, generally staying just to the east of the trailess ridgetop. The ridge is dense with brush on its west side, and steep and crumbly on its east. At first, our progress went quickly, but soon slowed near 7000' as the terrain became yet more rugged.
Three areas on the ridge merit attention. About halfway, before point 6834', is the first Class III move: a short, exposed 20' downclimb on solid rock. The next, further on at the east end of point 6300'+, is a steep, loose, very brushy gully that drops off to the south side to avoid sheer northern cliffs and high class 5 ridgeline boulders; this large gully is seen on the topo as an indentation at the 6000' contour line. The final hurdle, found straight up from the last notch. is a pleasant Class III scramble of a steep chute (ala Wall Street) contouring left to the summit ridge.
We reached the summit at 1:30 P.M. Our satisfaction was tempered by knowing it would be another seven hours, and more than half the total gain, back to the trailhead. The first of the summit blocks is attained by a friction move. It appears that a register had once been here. The middle and highest summit block barely tops the first; however, a 'Tyrolean traverse' seemed necessary to get to it! The vista of the wild interior of Angeles Forest was superb. Returning up the ridge, we surprised a pair of bighorn. We crossed over Twin Peaks a second time at 6:30 P.M. (heck of a pathfinder...). After a refreshing pause at the trailside spring, we hiked out to well-deserved chips and dip that were eaten at the moonlit roadside.
Sage editor's note:
About 12 years ago someone wrote this peak up in the HPS Lookout, claiming that it was tougher than Big Iron and mentioning that the peak was written up in a book called 106 Tops by J.R. Bruman The book states that Triplet Rocks is probably the most remote and difficult peak in the San Gabs and that H. Bailey led a strong party up it in May 1976. Ron Bartell was skeptical that anything could be tougher than Big Iron and after buying the book he asked me to join him in doing this monstrosity. We gave up late in the day when we looked down into the last notch Erik that mentions, a brush filled dreadful thing, estimating that it would take two additional hours to actually get the peak and that it would be dark when we got back to the car. The 1982 article in the Lookout was correct, this is tougher than Big Iron. However, I would nominate doing Baldy by going over the top of Big Iron and out via the ski hut as being the toughest peak in the San Gabs, and also as being the local hike being the most equivalent of Big Picacho. The statistics on doing Baldy from the West are quite similar to those of doing Big P from the West.
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