Snow Conditions

Steep and dangerous snow on San Jacinto

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By: Jack Haskel - PCTA Trail Information Manager
March 17th, 2022

There is steep, dangerous snow along the PCT on Mount San Jacinto, and in the mountains further north all the way to Canada.

If you don’t have previous steep snow experience, please seriously consider whether it’s a good idea for you to hike where snow is on the ground. Hikers in the past have died, and more have been seriously injured. There are many close calls on the trail in the area every year before the snow melts.

In 2020, Trevor Laher died after falling on snow during his thru-hike. Please read his father’s call for safety.

The specific snow and ice conditions change frequently. And people’s skill levels, equipment, fitness and risk tolerance also varies. Just because someone else did it, doesn’t mean you’ll be fine. Some PCT hikers are skilled mountaineers, some are beginner wilderness travelers.

Think conservatively and make sure you will be hiking in conditions comfortable for you.

Excerpt from our “When to hike the PCT” page:

“Don’t be fooled by “the desert.” The PCT often crosses high, seasonally snow-covered mountains in Southern California. You’ll pass ski resorts. Between each mountain range, the trail drops to low elevations and is usually snow-free. Higher elevations typically become snow-covered in the winter, possibly by late October or November, but sometimes not until January. Snow can remain an obstacle into early May, and new snow has been known to fall on Memorial Day weekend. Winter snow is usually deepest in the San Jacinto mountains above Idyllwild (widely, but especially Apache Peak, Antsell Rock, and Fuller Ridge), the San Bernardino mountains above Big Bear (especially south of Coon Creek Jumpoff), and the San Gabriel mountains along the Angeles Crest Highway near Wrightwood (especially on Mount Baden-Powell). At the southern end, Mount Laguna above San Diego gets periodic winter snow. On the northern end, the Piute Mountains between Tehachapi and Walker Pass can regularly be snow covered.”

Dangerous chutes north of Sonora Pass when snow is present

By: Frank
June 21st, 2016

North of Sonora Pass, in particular north of Hwy 4, holds steep and dangerous chutes when there is snow present. A serious chute is found at mile 1059.2; Coordinates 38.6187, -119.8436. There are three snow chutes in the area, sometimes the third chute is the most dangerous.

If you don’t have an ice axe or crampons, travel in this area is not advised at certain times.

Conditions change. We’ve heard from others who say this area isn’t that bad. Be careful and cautious. Turning around is always better than hurting yourself.

Raymond Peak