Ski Mountaineering

Snow Shelter Class 1995 - Mt Baldy

Feb 10-11, 1995

Leaders: Reiner Stenzel, Howard Schultz

Bring metal edged skis, skins, shovels, saws, but no tents. Is this a trip I want to go on? I have always wanted to snow camp, but without a tent? My son had built snow caves since he was little whenever we spent more than a day where there was deep snow. I had always been tempted to spend the night in one of these caves. Alas, I would get my chance. Reiner had the foresight to send each participant a printout of the definition and description of various types of snow shelters. This information was helpful and very interesting. If all else fails and igloo construction and snow cave building was a bust we could always sleep in a snow trench," ugh".

My anticipation was that we would drive to a place where there was snow. Ski with our packs for a mile or two, then begin building snow shelters and be snug in our bags before dark. Which is what we sort of did. The mile or two was a hike with an elevation gain of about 3,000 ft. We arrived at the San Antonio hut for lunch and fresh water, a treat for those of us who had never ventured to the monument to SMS on the mountain.

Next we skied (traveled with skis and skins) with our packs on up the steep wall of the Baldy bowl. Quite a feat for someone not yet accustomed to skiing with a 35 lb pack. Thanks to the help of Howard I made it up the steep icy slope (he most graciously relieved me of my pack for the last quarter mile).

When I arrived at the top of the ridge my other nine companions were all busy building. Most were building igloos. My companion and a new friend were digging into the hillside to create a snow cave. Reiner was half way finished with his next to perfection igloo, Howard was very calmly going about setting to work on his igloo.

Another trio was beginning a larger igloo. Others were setting out the foundations for single and double person igloos. We were blessed with a beautiful day. The view from the top of the ridge was of the top side of the clouds covering L.A. While the sun was out it was hard to imagine anyone having a problem with the cold. At about 4:00 the shadows had covered the top of the ridge and the wind began to blow.

My friend Susan, who had been digging vigorously into the side of a mountain of snow for two hours, began to show signs of fatigue( i.e. hypothermia). Again Howard to the rescue. He made sure she changed her clothes and had something warm inside her boots and suggested we finish his igloo and he finish our snow cave. We took him up on the offer .

Just after dark most snow shelters were as finished as they were going to be finished and people began to prepare for the night. Except for the trio building the big igloo. Tanney, Mike and Craig worked in good humor into the night. By their account they finished at about 10:30. It was a sight to behold. In the morning all appeared to have survived the night and were ready for a day of skiing the bowl, ascending the peak or booting it down the hill. To each their own. Thank you both Howard and Reiner for a great adventure and a safe trip.

Reporter: Leigh Broussard

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