June 5, 2017
May 13, 2020
The first time I scrambled up Mount Baldy, it was just with my husband Mike. We felt bad going when our girls were in school as we thought this was a climb they would really enjoy. Three years later, and we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The parks have been closed since March 26, 2020, but they have just reopened a few days prior. After being cooped up for so long, the whole family was desperate to get a hit of that mountain high.
It’s been a tradition for our family to climb a mountain for Mother’s Day. It started five years ago when my girls were 13. This year we decided my Mother’s Day present would be to scramble Mount Baldy with the whole family. When you look at the photos below, the dry conditions are from our first trip in 2017. The pictures of snow are from our most recent family trip.
It’s been raining and miserable in town for days, which means snow at higher elevations. This means gators and spikes. As the snow was way more than expected, we could have also brought ice axes.
The Mount Baldy trail is straight-forward. From the pull-out on the side of the road, go straight up the ridge line on the left until you hit the summit. Return the same way or do the traverse. I have planned to do the traverse both times, but have been unlucky with nasty weather. The first time, we got hit with a downpour and had to turn around at the summit. The second time the snow was very deep, and as the weather warmed, the risk of a wet avalanche was too great to ignore.
The Mount Baldy trail head is on Highway 40, across from Barrier Lake. Please be aware that this is NOT Old Baldy, which is further along the highway and is a hike, not a scramble.
You can park either directly at the trail head, in a small flat area on the east side of the road. Or you can park in the huge ‘lot’ across the highway on the west side, overlooking Barrier Lake.
From the trail head, ensure you stay left (north) to hit the main Mount Baldy summit. The return trail for the traverse is on the right, across the creek, so avoid being sucked into that route.
Once you are firmly on the north (left) trail, make your way up the steep trail through the forest.
After skittering up some steep slabs, the scrambling begins. If you are not keen on this, then go around them to the right. There is a perfectly good by-pass route in the trees.
The second major hump took us up to a narrow ridge walk.
Once we came down from this section, we were greeted with the most amazing sight – a living room! I absolutely LOVE it when people take the time and effort to make art and objects in the mountains. These people not only made a couch, but a coffee table and some end tables. This is a great spot for lunch.
The final bit of scrambling is a traverse up, and then around the side the ridge.
From the col, it’s now a scree walk to the summit.
Above the scree is the final final summit ridge. What is an easy scramble up some rocks in good weather, is much more trouble in snow.
Once above the final bit of ridge scramble, it is a rather enjoyable walk to the summit.
Mount Baldy Return
To head back, retrace your steps back down the mountain. We elected to do all the scrambling because it’s so enjoyable, and it’s great practice. If you are late on time, it’s possible to avoid the scramble parts in the trees.
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Totals – Tracked on Strava
Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Group: Four (Alisen, Mike and two daughters)
Distance: 6.5 km
Elevation: 765 m (2,524′)
Time: 4 hours 30 minutes (1/2 hour lunch)