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Ventana Hiking Route
The Window (via Jackson Creek)


                              "La Ventana" ("The Window") viewed from south

(from Marble Peak Trail viewpoint - J.Glendening)
(click on icons/lines for more info)

This webpage is now out-dated, as the route has become increasingly difficult due to further degradation with time and lack of use.  In particular, the 2016 Soberanes Fire greatly impacted the route both by damaging it directly and by restricting hiker access to its trailhead.  This webpage is now kept for its historical value and possible future usefulness. 

   "La Ventana" or "The Window", and sometimes "Ventana Notch", is the distinctive 200 ft deep notch in the rocky ridge between Kandlbinder Peak and the Ventana Double Cone (on left and right sides, respectively, of photo on left).  Supposedly it was named by Spanish explorers, becoming a landmark which passed its name on to the surrounding wilderness area.  A legend claims that at one time a bridge-like slab crossed the top of the gap to form a true window, but most doubt its validity. 

  While undoubtedly it has an earlier history, known early ascents are by Jules Goetz and his brother "early on" and Sam Hopkins in 1950.  In 1961 Ward Allison organized a small group of Sierra Club members to locate and clear a route up to the Window.  Initial explorations via Mt Manuel lasted until 1965, when lack of success prompted a switch to a Jackson Creek route.  A year later they had reached "Happy Fork".  Airplane overflights helped establish the final ascent route and on November 27, 1966 seven hardy climbers reached their goal in a heavy rain, unable to see the views until after they had shivered through the night.  As access improved, others began climbing the Window to enjoy its magnificent views and additional "Window routes" were established.  The culmination was a famous gathering on May 25, 1968, held in the Window and reached by 25 people starting from a variety of trailheads with final ascents coming from 3 different directions.  A more detailed history can be found in an article in a waterproof-box binder at "The Window", which also contains the summit register. 

The Route

  Currently, in 2014, the Jackson Creek route is in poor condition.  The old Sierra Club "use trail" which ran along the northern side of Jackson Creek is largely eroded and lost.  The current route from Fox Camp starts on the north side of Jackson Creek following that old trail, but then winds back and forth across -- and sometimes in -- Jackson Creek, following sparse tread and flagging.  Downfall from windstorms impeds passage and clutters up the creek itself - you must circumvent the downed redwoods and step through large patchs of downed tan oak.  Trail finding and following abilities are required; backpacking is slow and tiring!  In places multiple usetrails exist.  Eventually, at a confluence, you find Happy Fork Camp above a large cairn - it lies in a flat area well above Jackson Creek so is easy to miss. 

  The route above Happy Fork Camp lies along a usetrail (sometimes several, taken by different hikers) above and paralleling the north side of the creek, never actually going into the creek (leave Happy Fork Camp heading NW, not towards the creek).  That ends at a line of cairns heading uphill from the creek ("Last Water" is 100 ft downslope of the first cairn) toward, but ending before, the "Saddle" - where you finally see "The Window" ahead. 

  You then descend beyond into a gully (a headwater of the North Fork of the Little Sur River and possible water source after rains) which can be followed all the way up a talus slope to reach "The Window".  Alternatively, a tall cairn part way up marks the start of a talus slope route to Kandlbinder peak (per Jan Doelman) - from Kandlbinder, you can traverse the slope to gradually descend to "The Window" - but care is needed as going either too high or low ends at a cliff (per Maria Ferdin)

Jack Glendening      
https://bigsurtrailmap.net

Download Window Route KML file

Download Window Route GPX file
(Note: GPS users should expect large errors in Jackson Creek canyon)

Download Window Route 24000:1 printable topo map (pdf) file
 
 
 

 
PHOTOS
(Click photo to display larger image in a new window)  

Saddle - NW view Saddle - SE view
The Window - Firering and Table
The Window - N view The Window - S view
The Window - NW view The Window - SE view
 
 
 

 
HISTORY