Climbing
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Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade II
Elevation Gain
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Distance
7.00 mi (11.27 km)
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There’s a gem of a mountain just outside Los Angeles that provides easy access to sledding, hikes, and, of course, winter/spring mountaineering. Sitting at 10,069 feet above sea level, Mount San Antonio, colloquially referred to as Mount Baldy, features a famous snow climb: The Baldy Bowl.

To get to the trailhead, park just northeast of Manker Campground, along Mount Baldy Road. You’ll want to start by 6 a.m. to ensure the best snow conditions. Make sure you have your ice axe, crampons, avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel in your pack before slamming the car trunk shut! Start hiking up Falls Road and keep an eye out for the beautiful San Antonio Falls to your left. On high snow years the falls flow really strongly in March and April. Keep walking up the road until you reach a trail to the left about a mile in. Turn left onto the Ski Hut Trail and keep climbing for 2 miles until you reach the Sierra Club’s ski hut at 8,300 feet.

This historic refuge was built by Dr. Walter Mosauer and some of the founders of SoCal ski mountaineering in 1936. It’s an excellent place to stop, put on crampons, eat a snack, and use the latrine out back. If you’re inclined to do the climb Swiss Alps-style, the hut itself can be rented out nightly for $20 (or $15 if you’re a Sierra Club member).

Once you pass the ski shack, continue to follow the trail northwest until you come face to face with the bowl. If you’re looking for a shorter, less steep ascent, climb the left side of the bowl, steering clear of the huge rock faces up top. However, the classic route is nearly 1,500 feet of pure, 30 to 45 degree snow climbing, pushing a clean line straight to the summit. As you ascend, the neighboring Cucamonga Peak, Timber Mountain, and Mount San Jacinto will begin to come into view. On a clear day, you might even see Mount San Gorgonio, Southern California’s highest point, towering over its surrounding range.

Mount San Antonio has a rounded summit, and on high snow years, the sign at the top is often blanketed in white powder. The wind chill at the peak can be fierce, so wrap yourself in an extra layer, snap a few photos, and start heading down. If you like steep glissading, the bowl provides a near-perfect slope for sliding down the face of the mountain on your butt! The shallower slopes to the south of the summit itself will be less crowded and safer to descend this way. Be sure to take off your crampons first, and then slide, slide, slide!

To get back to your car, follow the edge of the bowl to the ski hut and then the main trail will take you back to the fire road you came up on. Mount San Antonio’s bowl is a great way to train for bigger peaks in the Sierra and is a classic California snow climb that is perfect for mountaineers just starting out.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Sometimes

Pros

Amazing views. Close proximity to Los Angeles. Easy approach. Can link up to neighboring peaks.

Cons

Crowded on weekends. Weather-dependent.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

6,165.00 ft (1,879.09 m)

Net Elevation Gain

3,904.00 ft (1,189.94 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Big vistas

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California
San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California
San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California
San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California
San Gabriel + San Bernardino Mountains, California

Comments

04/08/2017
View from Mount baldy summit mid winter
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