Twin Peaks, Triplet Rocks
By: Erik Seiring
Forget Iron Mtn, Rattlesnake Pk. Ross Mtn. The definitive local death march 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 side trip). The route unknown, we brought a rope which went unused. The combination of repeated ups and downs. dense brush, loose broken ridge. exposed c1ass 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 ridge top. 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 3 move: a short, exposed 20' down climb 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 c1ass 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 c1ass 3 scramble of a steep chute (ala Wall Street) contouring led 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.
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