This is the shortest approach and the shortest route(s) to the summit. Even though none of the approach is by trail, the cross country travel in this area is quite easy and game trails are common.
This approach could also work to access the South Ridge Route, but there might be some difficulty in attaining the notch between Old Baldy and Peak 8466 (“Hidden Lake Peak”). We did not go high enough into the drainage to observe the notch closely.
The mountain can be climbed several ways on its southern flank. Kotynski says in his hiking guide:
“Look up and find a ridge on the mountain’s south face and follow the scree some 2,100 feet to the top.”
With a little care in choosing a way up the mountain, nothing more than class 2 need be ascended and a route with sound footing most of the way can be picked.
Round trip is between 6 and 7 miles depending on exact route.
Elevation gain from road to summit is about 3,360 feet.
ApproachDrive to the Headquarters Creek Pass / Our Lake trail head. A short distance before the parking area, the road crosses a creek coming from the west. This is the drainage that you want to go up. About 100 yards north of the creek, there is an old skid road that will give you an easy start up the creek bottom. The road quickly ends and you are on your own. The easiest travel is well above the creek bottom on the north side of the creek.
Continue up the drainage until you come out of the trees – about 1.8 miles. Kotynski suggests that you will be “where the creek bottom opens up. This area is strewn with large boulders.” Then he suggests that you look up and find a ridge to the top.
We were high enough above the creek bottom that we came out of the trees right at the base of the south ridge of the eastern summit. It will depend on your exact route where you come out, but it should not be a problem.
We climbed the first ridge that we came to upon coming out of the trees – it would be the south ridge of the eastern summit. We followed it all the way to the eastern summit, and then traversed over to the higher western summit, for a round trip of about 6 miles with an elevation gain of about 3,360 feet. If you bypass the eastern summit and just go to the saddle between, the distance would be about a quarter mile less.
This ridge starts with goat / sheep trails on ledges through some sparse scrub trees. The scree / talus becomes larger as the east summit is approached. Nothing more than class 2 was encountered.
There is also a more central ridge that tapers out into the saddle between the two summits. We descended this for a distance and then traversed back to our ascent route. The scree / talus on this ridge is smaller than the one we ascended, but offers good footing on the upper part because of interspersed vegetation.