Big Baldy - Escape From Smogopolis

19 Jun 1998 - by Pat Ibbetson

Tonight after dinner I once again tried to escape from smogopolis by driving up to the Baldy area, this time with the intention of climbing the big boy himself, 8,209 ft Big Baldy.

There are two roads that approach Baldy from the east, but they were both covered with snow, so the closest place to park the car was along the General's Highway where it crosses Baldy Ridge, almost 3 miles north of Baldy's summit. I started hiking the crest of the ridge at 7:04 p.m. and made the summit of peak 7,879 twelve minutes later. Unfortunately the view from this rocky outcrop was obscured by clouds to the east and smog to the west.

After fighting through a large thicket of manzanita and buck brush, I continued hiking south along the crest of the ridge to the base of peak 7,899, which was covered with a very dense forest. Most of the way I followed some ski tracks which were accompanied by some cougar tracks in the snow as well, but luckilly they were headed in the other direction. I first saw Big Baldy and it's 3,000 foot west face from the south side of this small peak. The ridge here was nearly flat and I quickly made my way to the 200-foot 45-degree north face of the dome, stopping once to take some pictures.

By the time I had kicked steps to the top of the face, the sun had nearly set, which made for some great lighting. I looked around for a register but couldn't find one in the few rocks that were exposed and didn't want to dig in the snow. The view from the top down into Redwood Canyon made me quesy, so I tried to stay focused on the big peaks to the north like Mt. Goddard. I stayed on top for over 10 minutes and then made like a bandit for the car, departing the summit at 8:30 p.m. with a standing glissade to the saddle below. The hike back was uneventful except for a short bit of log hopping in total darkness half a mile before the car, which was kind of like trying to play the video game Frogger with the TV turned off. This is probably the best peak in the area that isn't on the Silliman Crest and should be hiked by anyone visiting the area that has a few extra hours of time on their hands.

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