It’s good to know Modern Hiker readers are cautious and safe hikers.
Nicole wrote in about a recent experience hiking Mount Baldy, and had this to say:
tried to ascend baldy today — i’d recommend waiting until may. there is still a fair amount of (granted, hard-packed) snow cover up high near the ski lodge. and let’s discuss the wind – good lord the wind. i point you back to the aforementioned “tried” to ascend baldy today. my friend and i got up to about 100-200yds within mt harwood and really had to turn back because it was too dangerously windy to proceed. literally nearly blown off the mountain by what was estimated at about 60mph gusts by the mt baldy fire dept. it was an amazing hike right up until we were on the backbone trail — at that point we were way too exposed and the wind was way too high to continue safely, especially considering you follow the ridge even further along baldy bowl.
so we did the responsible thing and turned back, descended safely and considered this our “Scouting” of the best route to baldy — we’ll be back in about a month when it’s a wee bit warmer and much less windier. 🙂 it’s definitely a great hike, and even though we didn’t make it completely to the summit of baldy, we got some great, clear views and a good workout, so i’m sure in good conditions it’ll be amazing.
Snow and ice linger in the taller San Gabriels for longer than you think it would — I remember seeing some icy patches on the north side of Waterman Mountain in mid-June one year. By that point, it’s often been melted and refrozen so much that it can be very dangerous to walk on — even while you’re probably wearing shorts and a t-shirt driving to the trailhead. One of the most important skills to have while hiking is knowing when to quit, and not succumbing to “Peakbagging Fever.”
I know it can feel lame to have to give up on that photogenic summit, but if there’s a chance of you being blown off the side of the mountain trying to get to it, it’s probably time to turn around and just enjoy the slope scenery, instead.
Nice work, Nicole — and don’t worry — you’ll get to summit soon!