Ski Mountaineering

Ski Mountaineers Trip to Mt. Baldy
March 23-24, 1996

Leaders: Mark Goebel, Paul Harris

I arrived at the Mt. Baldy parking area with anticipation looking forward to my second trip with the Ski Mountaineers. My first trip was the previous month at San Jacinto which was memorable for bagging the peak and my first snow camp on skis, but conditions prevented us from getting in many downhill turns. I was now hoping the Baldy Bowl would live up to its reputation. Our group included leaders Mark Goebel and Paul Harris, Pete Matulavich, Diann Gill Fried, Reed Morse, Lisa Freundlich, Keith Himes and Dave Baron. As we headed up the road it was obvious I had some things to learn about packing light. I appeared to have twice as much gear as everyone else! Too bad I wasn't planning on staying a week.

We made the climb to the Hut in good time and were greeted by howling wind and cold temperatures. We stowed gear, had a quick brunch, and got ready for skiing. Russ Haswell showed up and joined us. We headed up the center of the bowl kicking steps into the softening crust. The wind soon died and, except for now being overdressed, we had perfect spring conditions for the climb to the peak. The frozen crust was just that on top so we had lunch and waited for the sun to do its work. The southwest face seemed to be softening first so we made the first descent there. Good spring corn had everyone smiling after a fast run down. The climb back to the top seemed disproportionately long and steep and I blamed the group for my toughest skiing day ever. Back at the peak we were greeted by the sight of a white sailplane looping around the summit as it worked the thermals coming up off the Mojave. We could hear the wings vibrating in the wind as it flew right over our heads. After lunch we headed across the ridge and down Baldy Beach encountering some icy crust at the top and more turnable conditions further down.

Back at the hut we soon had water boiling for dinner and had some pretty sumptuous meals. Dinner was followed by a relaxing evening sharing stories of ski trips, gear-talk, and what other SMS members had been doing, The clay was topped off with Paulšs sighting the comet as it became visible to the north-

After breakfast and cleanup on Sunday, we headed across the base of the bowl and up the west ridge. Having taken numerous falls on Saturday I knew I had to work on some fundamentals to get back in control. I stayed on the top of the west ridge to ski on a gentler slope while the group headed up to the summit. They crossed to West Baldy and descended the southwest face. They climbed back up to the west ridge where we rejoined and reported excellent spring corn conditions, After a break we dropped into the west bowl and carved turns down and across all the way to the rock garden. I had realized a dream I'd had since I first heard of nordic downhill skiing, to carve turns down a big, back-country bowl. It felt great!

Back at the hut we had lunch and enjoyed the sunshine.

Reed couldn't get any takers on his offer to return to the summit so we finished cleanup and started down. The trail was dry below the hut and the return hike was pretty quick. At the cars I bid farewell to my new friends. I was really tired but deeply satisfied as only a trip to the wildeness can provide.

Jim DeRose

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