Friday, August 26, 2011

Mt. Baldy via Ski Hut Trail 8/1/09, 11/6/10, 8/13/11

The 3 T's and ECBO
Climbing Mt. Baldy never gets old; it's the only mountain I've climbed more than twice. The trailhead is a short drive from LA and it's the highest point in LA County so the view is unbeatable.

My first ascent two years ago was my first time over 10,000', long before I had any interest in peakbagging. It was also my only time taking the Devil's Backbone Trail back to Manker Flats. There's a stretch of the trail (The Devil's Backbone) that's somewhat narrow with steep drops on both sides and I could see it being scary on a windy day, but compared to the North Backbone trail, there's really nothing luciferian about it.

Pine and Dawson

Summiting Baldy for the first time
  The Devil's Backbone

Baldy hikes can get pretty sweaty in the Summer, but you pretty much know what you're gonna get in terms of weather (other than the occasional thunder storm). It seemed like a good idea to try the climb in November to avoid the heat, but Fall weather on Baldy doesn't have the benefit of being predictable.

It's particularly important to be well prepared for a hike when you bring hikers along who trust you not to kill them, but we weren't at all prepared for the intensity of the summit that day. We dressed for the 70 degree weather at the trailhead and didn't bother to bring any layers. We probably should have turned back when we started seeing this crazy shit:

The summit was freezing and windy and we should have been wearing heavy jackets (instead of shorts and light sweatshirts). Definitely not a place you want to be if you have a fear of frostbite.

The misty descent was probably incredibly cool to walk through, but we were too busy rushing to get down to the warmth of the Baldy Lodge to notice at the time.

There's nothing easy about climbing Baldy (almost 1000' of gain per mile), but when you're thinking of it as training for Mt. Whitney, as we were on our most recent climb, you can't help but think of it as just a steep stroll. Stroll or not, there's always a way to make sure it's not the least bit boring.

Just to switch it up from the usual Ski Hut Trail hike, we ran over to West Baldy (not officially a peak), adding about a mile to the short 4.5 mile ascent.

San Gabriels from West Baldy

Baldy from West Baldy

Accuse Mt. Baldy of being boring and it'll retaliate with venomous animals. There have been a lot of rattlesnake sightings in the area lately. Watch out for these guys.

Matti took the pics.


  1. an unforgettable experience, that's for sure. but i wouldn't call it a bad one, even if i couldnt walk right for a week and lost a toenail. i'll climb it with you again. once a train a little :p

  2. we'll climb it in the summer next time ; )

  3. This still ranks up there as one of my favorite Baldy climbs... There's always something new this mountain throws at us.

  4. The nails are your digits are very important. Interesting that one came off after this climb. Not a good sign my friends.

  5. I've lost many, they always grow back. c|: D

  6. Nice lenticular cloud shots. The neat thing about weather it it makes the photos more dramatic!