I really wanted to push myself after hiking 2 of the easier hikes in the LA area. Well I chose the wrong mountain to push myself because the mountain pushed back.
The picture above is the sign to look for when you are traveling in Agoura Hills. I was not used to the trailhead being a dirt turnoff off some road. The trailhead is for a little traveled peak called LadyFace. You would know this peak if you looked off towards Malibu as you were traveling the 101. This is a rugged looking peak and not very well documented. Those who have ascended the peak are few and far between but they all talk about the rock climbing portion of the trail and say you can do it but just be cautious. Oh yea? More on that later.
So from the weirdo trailhead you start going up and going up in a hurry. LAist has a list of trails to trim the Thanksgiving Fat, well put this trail on top of the list. It starts vertical and keeps going up. Don't believe me? This is what you start out on...
An ATV trail that goes up. You can see Ladyface in the background. One person who climbed it said that if you aren't sure of the trail, keep to the left and keep going up.
As you go up the really vertical parts, be prepared for a lot of loose rock and sandy conditions. Going up isn't so challenging if you have poles but coming down is its own adventure when you have no sure footing.
The only really "level" places on the whole trail and Devil's Backbones with very little margin for error.
The trail is allegedly 2 miles but with it going up 1,200 feet in those two miles it will take you quite a bit longer to make your way up. I also suggest doing this hike during the cool months in LA. As I am learning, counter-intuitively for an Upstate New Yorker, hiking here during the summer is NOT the way to go. If you are doing this puppy, do it in the winter.
Eventually you make your way up to the truly challenging part, the rock climb.
In the few trip reports I was able to find, most described this as a rock scramble that even "5th graders" could do. Well I must have never passed 4th grade because this thing is basically vertical, not 45 degrees but more like 80 degrees. I got up 10 feet or so and to be honest, was not sure of my footing and having never rock climbed, did not feel sufficiently confident to make it the 100 or so yards of climbing it takes to make it to the top.
I took some other cues from nature from the circling crows and decided to call it a day.
So, LadyFace beat me. I am ok with this as I was not about to do the rock wall. I am completely fine with scrambles but this was a whole other class.
Still, even from that height, there were some amazing views of the surrounding landscape.
Nobody Hikes In LA: Has a good trip report: http://nobodyhikesinla.com/2011/04/30/ladyface/
Here are some great pics to show you want you are in for: http://www.venturacountytrails.org/RecentPhotos/2009-01-25Ladyface/_Page.html
Some history behind the face: http://agourahills.patch.com/articles/lets-get-it-straight-ladyface-mountain