2013-10-02 Mount Baldy - Mount Belknap quad; 4,537' vertical feet. The circular class 2 scramble route to Mount Baldy includes an ascent of Mount Belknap - twice. Stunning rocky ridge lines. Ten hour adventure at 12,000 feet.
Hot as hell even at 12000'!
Started at Mud Lake. Walked the road to the 10973 saddle. Took a short detour SE of the pass to get to the top of 11420. Went back to the pass and followed or skirted the ridgeline to Belknap. Traversed the ridge from Belknap to Baldy. Baldy looked impossibly steep from a distance, and was not a particularly pleasant ascent. From Baldy, went back on the ridge a short way to the first prominent bump. Descended the SE ridge of this bump to a point north of Blue Lake. Could not find the Skyline Trail which is a National Recreation Trail. Expected it to be really prominent, but it wasn't. Went to the far side of the lake and went up and we finally ran into it. Followed the Skyline Trail to a switchback north of Shelly Baldy Peak. Took a detour to Shelly Baldy, having to go over a big bump along the way, ouch! Then made our way back to the Skyline Trail which we followed to the trail to Mud Lake, which we followed back to our car.
Our Subaru Legacy (not Outback) made it to Mud Lake with only minor difficulties. There was one short steep section that took several tries to get up and scraped bottom crossing Poison Creek.
Started on the Big John Flats Road at around 10,900ft. It took us an hour and 20 to reach the summit of Belknap. We did Baldy after and it took us an one and forty-five to reach the summit of Baldy from the summit of Belknap. Then we went down to Blue Lake and hiked up to our cars. Awesome Loop! Going up Baldy was ridiculously steep. The average slope is somewhere around 50 degrees. Crazy!
Made a loop from 1st Big John Meadow, Over Belknap and Baldy, down canyon to 9400', to Blue Lake, then back up. 19 miles. Extra elevation gain for snow avoidance. 70 mph gusts flattened me at times.
There was still quite a bit of snow in steep (45 degree) chutes, so I carefully kickstepped across to some rock, and took a crumbling class 3 climb rather than risk a speedy, uncontrolled glissade. I know there is an easier route from the SW. I plunged stepped down 2700' of annoying talus to the creek 1 mile S of Blue Lake, went up a bad pile of avalanched trees to get to the ridge at 11400'.
On July 6, 1996, my wife and I climbed Belknap together, along with Baldy Peak, after camping near Blue Lake. We made a loop, ascending the Blue Lake Trail, over Baldy Peak, and down Belknap, taking the alternate route to pass 10,793. There was still quite a bit of snow, and some on the road. This was two days after climbing Santiquin Peak.
Note that the USGS map calls this Mount Baldy. All other maps label the peak Baldy Peak. The locals know the peak as Beaver Baldy. Take your pick.
Left Salt Lake City on a Friday and camped at Big John Flats, Started out on Saturday at 8:00 am from Beaver Creek Road and made the Summit by 11:00 am, ate on top and read the oldest summit register that I’ve found (1965). Except for the gale force winds along the ridgeline weather was perfect. The elevation as marked on the USGS map (12,122’) differs from the posted elevation on the summit (12,080’). My GPS showed an elevation of 12,050 which isn’t survey grade but did match the summit marker better than the USGS.