We had originally planned to try a couple of peaks on the south side of Baldy pass. However, once at the parking
lot and on the trail, it became evident that there was too much snow to bother plodding through, so we changed our objective
to South Baldy. To add clout to my arguement to switch peaks was some point release avalanches on our intended
mountain, though not near the route. The trip from the pass to the South peak is an enjoyable, low impact scramble/hike.
From there we watched a group heading towards West Baldy, and we said "hey, if they're breaking trail, why not...?"
Turns out sinking in the snow wasn't an issue.
|GR south of Baldy Pass
As you can see, there was too much snow to plug through on this one so we turned left instead of right and headed up
|Tracking towards South Baldy; it starts to get fun here.
From where we are in the above picture, it's enjoyable easy/moderate scrambling all the way along the ridge to the summit.
|Nearing the summit of West Baldy. Person in red coat is on the summit
As we were hiking over from South Baldy to West, we watched another party going at West Baldy. They had neither
ice axes or ski poles and were trying to tackle a steep snow filled gully (I guess it's what Alan describes in his book, but
it's not much of a gully). It took them quite a while to get through, while we were critiquing their route choice.
The dry rock to their left looked like a much easier proposition, and that's what we took. We were just waiting for
one of them to slip off an knock their friends off the mountain, but they prevailed. I had my ice axe and would have
tried the gully, but Pete just had a ski pole. From the last tree it's about 40-50m(?) of difficult-ish scrambling,
that's not exposed. In the picture avoid the crack on the right, and head left; it's much easier.
We headed down between South and West Baldy in what turned out to be the coldest glissade I've experienced (that's including
shorts and a t-shirt!); my lips were numb for about ten minutes after the glissade. I think it's possible to descend
to the Baldy Pass hiking trail from West Baldy's summit. From South Baldy's ridge, it's looks like if you head down
the ridge towards the trail, there should be a downsloping ledge/gully (on your left) that's made recognizable by a few trees.
From there it's scree down to the valley bottom, find the trail and head out. I'll probably try it next season.
As a side note, I had one of the my best laughs at the expense of others, watching a group glissading down the same slope
as us. We were stripping our clothes when we noticed them sliding down - one of them going ass over tea kettle.
He managed to rectify that and was sliding feet first on his back, when all of a sudden it looked like he tried to stand
up and stop; no such luck: he started his tumbling act again. After he finally stopped, got up and looked un-hurt, we
burst out laughing; I'm quite sure they heard. I don't think he'll try standing up until he's at a complete stop the