Mt. Baldwin

19-20 Jul 2003 - by George Sinclair

I had first seen Mt. Baldwin many years ago while climbing Red Slate. The look of the rock on Mt. Baldwin intrigued me. The mountain was streaked in different layers of black, gray, and white rock. The knowledge that there was an old mine high on the side of the mountain only added to its attraction.

Although the weather report was not encouraging, I headed up the trail from Convict Lake Saturday morning. It was easy getting a last minute wilderness permit, and the backpacker's parking lot only contained a few cars. After about two hours I reached the site of the washed-out bridge. I remember seeing the bridge in its newly mangled state back in 1983. Since then all the timbers have disappeared, and only the concrete footings remain. Since it has been 20 years, it appears that the Forest Service is in no hurry to re-build the bridge. Without a bridge, crossing the creek is rather tricky early in the season. I found it very challenging trying to keep my feet dry while I picked my way across the creek.

After crossing the creek, I continued up the trail for another two hours. About a mile past Mildred Lake I headed up along the first creek I encountered coming down from the east. I followed this creek uphill for a few hundred feet to a sandy flat area where I decided to make camp.

After a night of thunderstorms, Sunday started out as a very nice day. I followed a well-defined trail that led to Bright Dot Lake. Eventually the trail worked around a ridge to where the gully that comes down the northwest side of the mountain is in plain view. I left the trail here and headed up. There are various ways to proceed up this gully, but after getting about halfway up I discovered a climber's or miner's trail that entered the gully from Bright Dot Lake. At about 12,000 feet the trail crosses an area that contains many large clear Calcite crystals. Just beyond this the trail goes around a corner and onto the gradual slope of the west face of Baldwin. After working my way up this easy slope for about 500 feet I reached the top about three hours after leaving camp. Five hours later, I was back at my car at Convict Lake. I only saw a handful of people all weekend.

For those who wish to do this mountain I would like to make a few recommendations. First, I believe that the camp spot I found is at an ideal location for climbing Baldwin. One does not need to go all the way to Bright Dot unless the plan also includes Morrison. Climb Baldwin late in the season (August) when the creek is not too high, or carry water shoes. The climb is a class 2-rock scramble (no snow), or class 1 if the climber's trail is followed all the way. In addition to not building a new footbridge, the Forest Service is also not spending any money on trail signs. Not a single trail sign was found anywhere.

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