ApproachTake the Mount Baldy road past Baldy Village and park at Manker Flats. There will probably be a lot of cars because you're only 20 minutes from Claremont, but don't worry the crowds thin out a bit once you get past the ski hut. On a nice winter day there will be throngs of people playing on the snow slopes near the parking lot, so make sure you park somewhere you won't get blocked in!
From Manker Flats walk a little less than a mile on the San Antonio Falls Road to the Ski Hut Trail. The trailhead is not well marked, so keep your eyes peeled for the faint trail which rises sharply to the left about 1/2 mile past San Antonio Falls. Use caution on the approach, crampons may be required in several places because the trail tends to get icy, and you will be traversing several fairly steep slopes.
Just past the Ski Hut, make your way directly up the large bowl instead of traversing the bowl to follow the trail. This route is popular with LA mountaineers and offers a very nice runout for self-arrest practice when snow piles up over the huge boulders which are obstacles in the bowl when the snow melts.
Route DescriptionThe climb itself is straightforward. Depending on which chute you take expect maximum angles of 40 to 45 degress near the top. The easiest chutes are pretty much right up the middle of the bowl. Expect an hour or two of climbing to gain about 1600' in the bowl, then maybe 10 minutes to the top once you exit the chutes to the summit plateau (once you catch your breath!)
Some of the chutes are significantly more hazardous to descend than others, so place a wand, take a bearing, or otherwise remember which chute you came up in, and you will save yourself some confusion and extra walking when you try to find your way back down. The summit plateau is large and rounded and it is easy to walk off the mountain in the wrong direction!
Be careful of the north face. There are huge dropoffs in several directions from the summit plateau, and Baldy claims several lives just about every year.
The way down is fun because the large runout at the bottom means you can glissade down the whole bowl in less than 5 minutes if snow conditions are right.
Essential GearIce axe and crampons are required for this winter climb. There is a tendency for ice to fall out of the chutes at the top of the bowl so you should definitely bring a helmet and wear it!
The climb can be done easily in a day if the snow is firm. Get an alpine start to help ensure good cramponing conditions for ascending the bowl.
Watch out for avy danger if there has been a recent storm, or if the days are warming in the spring. There are also many skiers and snowboarders in the bowl by afternoon, and slides may come off from their antics or glissading climbers as well.
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