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Iron Mountain for Best of the Best (Mountaineer 9)

  • Oct 26, 2013 · 6:30 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

Iron Mountain is the most difficult single trail hike in Southern California.  It will easily push any hiker to the limit.

This event is not a race. Rather,

it is a hike for best of the best, an exclusive club of who's who elite hikers.


Qualifying Hike:

You will need to qualifying at the following hike for this event.

9/21 - Mt Baldy via Bear Canyon and back

To qualify, you need to complete this hike before the organizer.

With the exception of exempt hikers, no one will be added to the list until after the qualifying hike.



Hike duration: 6-10 hours (If you need more than 10 hours, you will not be joining us.)

Summit time: 10:15 - 12:15 am

Mandatory turnaround time: 12:45 pm

Regardless of where you are on the trail, you must turn around and head downhill by 12:15 pm. If you have not yet reached the summit, you are not going to make it this time. You must turn around.

By signing up to this hike, you agree to abide by this rule. If this is not acceptable to you, please join a different event.


What to Bring:

Hat, long pants, hiking poles, watch, headlamp, sunscreen, energy bar, lunch, snacks, water and first aid kit. (You are required to have a first aid kit.)

Water: You must carry a minimum of  3 liters.

Please use organizer's personal water consumption as a reference in determining the amount of water you need.

From trailhead to Allison Saddle:                     1.25 - 1.50 liters

From Allison Saddle to summit (out and back): 2.50 - 2.75 liters

From Allison Saddle to trailhead:                     1.25 - 1.50 liters

(The organizer is 5'10" tall and weigh 167 lb. I need 4.5 litters for a 70-75 degree day hike. If you are bigger than me or the temperature is hotter than 75 degree, you will need to bring more water.)


Rules of Conduct:

1. Absolutely no pushing, blocking or tripping.

2. If someone is right behind you, you must offer to yield.

3. Downhill hikers must yield to uphill hikers in a single file trail.

4. Do not drink water from bottles stashed by other hikers.

5. When the organizer ask you to turn around, you must turn around.


Warning and Disclaimer:

This hike is extremely dangerous. You could sustain serious injury or even die attempting to summit the Big Iron. Even if you are able to summit, you may not be able to get down without getting seriously hurt or killed.

If you think going up is tough, downhill is much worse.  You must think twice before signing up. Better yet, buy a life insurance policy beforehand.

If you are injured along the way, no one will be able to save you. I certainly could not.

Hike at your own risk.



Organizer: Mike Cheng

Location: Azusa, CA

Weather report: Iron Mountain weather forecast

Toilette: At trail head

Proficiency: Anyone interested in participating in this event must share with my your hiking activities during the past 3 months to substantiate your proficiency before your name will be added to the list.


Direction and Parking:

Direction: From the 210 freeway exit at Azusa Avenue (Highway 39) and head north for 10 miles or so. Azusa Avenue becomes San Gabriel Canyon Road and parallels the San Gabriel Dam on the right. Turn right on East Fork Road and continue for another 8 miles until the road dead ends at the East Fork Ranger Station. Park in the lot or beside the road below the ranger station.

Parking: Public and street parking near the trail head. Adventure Pass is required. If parking is full near the trail head, you can park at the Oaks Picnic Area and hitchhike to the trail head. It is only 1 1/2 mile south of the trail head.


Trail Descriptions:

Hike difficulty: Level 9.5/10

Distance: 14.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 7000'

Trail condition: mostly single file trail, no shade

The trail to Iron Mountain are actually 2 parts: from the trail head to Allison Saddle with 800'/mile elevation gain on average (9 miles), and then from Allison Saddle to the Iron Mountain Peak, 1200'/mile elevation gain (5.5 miles).

Certain short segments of the 1st part are steep with 50-60 % grade. However, these steep segments are generally short, less than 20 yards, so it is usually not a problem. In my opinion, this part of the hike is normal.

The 2nd part of the hike, from Allison Saddle to the peak, is just the opposite. It is very steep and extremely dangerous.

Out of the 2.75 miles of uphill hike, 1.75 miles of this trail has 50-70 % grade. 1 out of the 1.75 miles has 70 % grade and at the same time the trail has a base of loose sand and rocks. When you step on it, it gives immediately. Many have said that it is too slippery and not passable.

You will slip and fall 5-7 times along the way. If you are strong and lucky, you will go home safe. If not, you will be seriously injured or die.


Venue Overview:

According to John Robinson, author of Trails of the Angeles, "8007 foot Iron Mountain is by far the least accessible peak in the San Gabriel....No trail approaches its isolated summit , and to climb it you must start miles away and thousands of feet below." In this local hiking legend's view, "Big Iron" is the most strenuous one-summit hike in the entire San Gabriel range.

Originally, local miners in San Gabriel Canyon referred to the mountain as Sheep Mountain, descriptive of the herds of Bighorn sheep that once roamed its slopes. However, the U.S. Geological Survey, which mapped the San Gabriel Mountains in the 1890's, was apparently not as impressed with the fauna that roamed the surface of the mountain as it was with what lay beneath the surface, iron ore deposits. Thus the present name was bestowed. But the Bighorn were not entirely forgotten for the designated wilderness area where Big Iron is located is named "Sheep Mountain Wilderness."





























Waiting list priority: People who hike with me or with Los Angeles Hiking Group frequently will be given priority when they are on the waiting list.

No show policy: If you sign up for an event and no show, you will either lose your waiting list priority or not be able to sign up for the next event.


More Warning and Disclaimer:

If you have prior medical condition or a family history of illnesses pertaining to heart, lungs, brain, etc. that can be aggravated by heat and physical exertion, this is not the hike for you.

If you have never done a hike of this distance or difficulty before, this hike will be very difficult for you. It may well be your death march. The mountain is not going anywhere. We will schedule this event again in the future. Do it when your mind and body are ready.

Hiking is a recreation, not a suicide mission.


Release of Liability:

The organizer (me) of this trip is a volunteer and is not a professional guide. The function of the organizer is only to organize this trip. Each person who signs up for a trip/hike/or outing is responsible for his or her own safety and the safety of his or her guests.

By signing up for this trip, or any other event organized by me, you are acknowledging that you are aware and have made your guests aware of the risks, dangers and hazards associated with any outdoor activity and freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards, and further agree to release and discharge the organizer (me) of this hike from and against any and all liability arising from your and your guest's participation in the group activities.

This group, its organizer, assistant organizers, event organizers are not responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur carpooling to and from this event, or for any injuries or accidents incurred before, during, and after this event. If you sign up or participate in this event you acknowledge that you freely and voluntarily agree to assume all risks of injuries and damages arising from, as a result of and associated with this event.

In addition, you and your guests are acknowledging that you agree to the Meetup terms of service especially paragraph 6.2:


Profile Photo:

Members interested in joining this hike must have a profile photo showing his/her face. This is a requirement of the L.A. Hiking Group. Without it, you will not be allowed to sign up.

Join or login to comment.

  • Willie

    Wow!! what a great, but grueling hike to the top. Also left at 7:02a.m., and reached the summit at 10:50a.m., took a short break, and started what I felt was best part of the whole day, and that was the challenge run down hill. Even met someone who yelled out "Willie be careful" in the middle of the mountain "Who knew", Little Emma, local known hiker .Loved the steep areas, and as Mike mentioned you really have to know what you're doing, where to step, how to step and most of all, quick to recover. Arrived at the trail head aprox. 1:27 p.m.
    I thank you Mike for choosing me to be a part of such great event and wonderful people that really are completive individuals. Sirak, you're a wonderful person for such a short time we've know each other. Great job buddy!!!
    Stein, I have great respect for your strong ability....
    And Mike, I thank you....

    To all my peep's at TNT , ALL OF YOU ROCK!!! Thanks for keeping me in shape....

    3 · October 28, 2013

    • Sirak

      Glad you found relief at the end Stein. :)

      October 29, 2013

    • Stein

      I suppose you have a point (in principle) Mike but no, running was not really of an option although I tried to "hurry" ;-)

      October 29, 2013

  • Stein

    Congrats Sirak on a fabulous time. For me: Start: 7:02am, peak at 10:10 am. Left peak at 10:15. Down at 12:52. I'll definitely aim for sub-3hrs to the top next time. My first time. Great challenging hike. Thanks for organizing Mike.

    2 · October 26, 2013

    • Sirak

      Thanks Stein. That last mile was grueling. Mike couldn't have picked a perfect weather as today's.

      October 26, 2013

  • Sirak

    Start 6:18am, summit 9:10am, Left peak at 9:38 amcompeted 11:56am.

    1 · October 26, 2013

  • Yesenia

    Well done! Congrats to all you four muscle men!

    1 · October 26, 2013

  • Sirak

    Speaks for itself. Tough hike but well worth the pain. :) great organizer. Thanks Mike.

    October 26, 2013

  • Stein

    Wow, down to 3 only?? What happened to 20?

    October 25, 2013

  • Leslie L.

    Sorry I won't be able to make it:(

    October 25, 2013

  • Mark (.

    Managed to damage upper leg muscle, limping , even I can't be a sweeper, plus gaining extra muscles(!!!) daily, about 20 pounds now :(

    October 22, 2013

  • mukti

    Sorry I have to work this Saturday :(

    October 21, 2013

  • Lynda

    Reading the description of this hike soooooo makes me want to do it! Not. Be safe you all. Good luck!

    October 5, 2013

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