Excitement stirred my bones at the Baseline Road exit off the 210 before reaching the mountain. Why? Because I saw the snow capped San Gabriel Mountain peaks where Mt. Baldy, or Mt. San Antonio resides. It was going to be a good early spring ski day in February!
The tagline on Mt. Baldy's website speaks the truth: "Real Mountain. Real Close." It also declares the area as "Southern California's Best Kept Secret." Another claim that's completely true from my first visit. So with two legitimate truths, you really can't go wrong. Baldy has only 4 chairlifts (easily labeled 1, 2, 3, 4) with Chair #1 running down to the parking lot. But don't let that fool you. Their 26 runs cover a lot of advanced terrain. With more dry erase "No Beginner" boards I've ever seen, this ski spot only 60 minutes from Burbank proved to be very interesting and a lot of fun.
SINGLE. I was skiing single. One ski buddy was in the Alps, another busy with family so I decided to go solo since I had a voucher and the last time I hit the slopes was Squaw Valley during New Years. I was snow restless. Regardless, with all the friendly men around, I wasn't lonely my first time at Baldy! The reoccurring call out line to me was, "Are you a single?" I chatted with many nice men. Two gave me much needed and useful boot advice. Though, not all the guys ended up being courteous (story near the end).
SHIRTLESS. No, not me, but I came across 4 shirtless men. The first was skiing and rocking jeans at the bottom of Chair #3. Not the fake jean-looking snow pants the Winter Olympic Snowboarders are wearing. He was also not in the best shape or very young. He did however have some nice marlin back tattoos. The other guys were around the parking lot where the temperature clocked at about 63 degrees when I left in the afternoon. Thank you early spring ski day!
ROUGH. You can either ride Chair #1 back down to the parking lot or you can ski down. According to the trail map, Run 26 or Sugarpine is intermediate blue. Taking a closer look, it's really a black diamond (the map slightly confuses). As a reminder, my footbeds are loose and I've been sticking to intermediate runs since getting back from my sabbatical. Of course, when I realized my mistake, it was too late. Steep and narrow was the name of this game.
Like all sports, skiing is mental and it's tough when you're not focused. Chair #1 rides above Sugarpine where I made many mental rests to prepare myself getting down the hill. The 1st of my 3 chairlift hecklers was funny and cute. As I was chapsticking he called out, "Yeah, chapstick time!" He was surprised I heard him. He continued his narrative descriptions as I started to put my gloves back on. Now the 2nd Heckler I had earlier chatted with while waiting in the Chair #4 line with his buddies. "Hey white pants, I remember you!" (side note: I was wearing bright white ski pants) Heckler 2 and his buddies wanted me to join them for apres ski up top. "If I get down there, I'm going to want to f you." (F being the F word) Yeah, no thanks Heckler 2. The final heckler, Heckler 3, wasn't bad but when you're trying to focus on a tough run and hear, "You've got a long way to go..." thanks for stating the obvious bud, now shut up.
The result of all this? My first mini yard sale. About 30 feet of my camera, then my left ski, then me. At least I wasn't the only one falling down the run and that made me feel better. Some nice boarders helped me and the rest was (ha ha of course it was) easy. I laughed all the way to my car and driving back to the highway.
Guy rocking mini skis
View from trail off Chair #3
Overall, it was a really fun day. The snow was especially slushy on the runs off Chair #4, and if I had a straw and some cherry syrup, I would've made my own Snoopy Slushy! Well, off the groomed path of course.
It is a mountain to monitor when a big storm hits. If you're looking for something close, fun, and advanced, Baldy is for you! It's a ski spot, not a ski resort. I'll definitely be back. I mean, the guys are really nice. Well, most of them...