OverviewFollowing in my own tradition of filling excess bandwidth with otherwise insignificant mountains, I present: Little Baldy. Yes, the name conjures up images of penile development gone awry. And frankly, when viewed from afar, this little nub inspires even less. But allow me to adapt the old adage: it's not the size that matters, it's the view. Now I've done a fair amount of hiking in Sequoia NP. And I can say with a straight face that Little Baldy provides great "bang for the buck". A stunning, straight view of the 6000' drop of the Marble Fork of the Kaweah into the main canyon of the Kaweah River. Unblocked vistas of rugged, blood-red Mount Silliman and much of the southern Great Western Divide.
The standard route up Little Baldy is a shamefully easy walk up a well-maintained trail. Only a 900-foot climb from the trailhead, spread out over a mere 1.7 miles. But hey, you're not gonna hike to Pear Lake with grandma, now are you? However, when we hiked it in January, there was enough ice on the trail to make things interesting.
Markman provides information on the many technical routes on the west and north faces: "Most of the climbing on Little Baldy is 1 to 6 pitches of high quality, low angle, slab climbing. The best way to access the climbs is to park in the next turnout south (towards Lodgepole) of the Little Baldy trailhead. From here you can follow a faint climbers trail directly to the rock.The route climbing the obvious water streak is called Sparkler (5.9, 6 bolts+2 bolt belay). Working left is two more bolted forays (5.8, I think). Working still left you will notice an obvious arch. "Tapestry", a six pitch slab route to the summit starts below and right of the arch. Bring small rack. If you continue on around the rock, it steepens to some good 5.10 climbing with natural pro. Theres also a really cool 5.10 climb with 10 (yes I said 10) bolts in one pitch. You can continue to the summit from the top of any of the climbs via easy slab climbing. Rock & Ice #28 has a climbing guide for Generals Highway that was the "bible" for the area before the present guide." The route referred to with 10 bolts is 'Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow' (FFA: Herb Laeger, 1989).
Ron Karpel has a nice photo of an anonymous 5.9 Little Baldy route. According to Paul and Clint, a 1988 issue of Climbing Magazine (issue 110) has an article about climbing on Moro Rock and Little Baldy on page 18. Check the "BOOKS" section here for a link to a climbing guidebook.
Getting ThereFirst, get to the Lodgepole area.
The turnout and trailhead for Little Baldy is approximately 6 miles past Lodgepole Campground by follow the Generals Highway north. A NPS trailhead sign will identify the Little Baldy trail upon reaching the 6 mile mark. Directly across from the sign will be a large turnout for parking (west side of the highway).
If your intent is to hike the Little Baldy trail or head to the summit, walk across to the east side of the highway and walk north 100 yards. There, on the righ hand side, are a series of stairs that starts the initial ascent of the Little Baldy trail.
If you intent is to ascess the base of Little Baldy for most of it's climbing route, walk to the southern most part of the turnout and then cross over to the east side of the highway. Locate a small trail that heads steeply into the forest. The trail is somewhat vague at times but ,for the most part, can be followed with a little patience. The trail continues upward and switchbacks until it encounters the steep western outcrop of Little Baldy. Continue southeast to circumnavigate the base of Little Baldy to access the remaining routes on its southern side.
Red TapeSame red tape as Lodgepole.
Camping red tape here
When To ClimbClimbable without snowshoes/skis probably 7-9 months out of the year. Trail is icy early or late in the snow season. But you won't get lost with snow on the ground. At least you shouldn't.
If you are doing a technical route, the rock may or may not be snow-free, depending on slope angle, time of year, and the direction the slope faces. Expect snow on the approach from November to June.
CampingVisit Lodgepole's camping page for general information.
The nearest campground is Dorst Creek.
Mountain ConditionsStart at the NPS main page. Transportation and accessibility information can be found here.
- Morgan Brown's Image Gallery
Six original images taken from Little Baldy in January, 2001. A few of them are here at SP at a smaller size.
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