Headed for the snow? Read this first

By Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

Portions of San Antonio falls were covered with snow as water rushed down from Baldy Bowl over 9000 feet up in elevation.

More than a week after storms dumped up to eight feet of snow in higher elevations, many Southern California mountain communities are still digging out, with the isolated locations of Big Bear Lake hit especially hard.

The Mt. Baldy Village was open to residents only for several days last week, but is now welcoming visitors, with Baldy Road open and accessible all the way up to the ski lift parking lot at 6,400 feet.

Though some snow has melted, nighttime low temperatures have remained unseasonably cold, limiting runoff. Streams are flowing, but the volume is not yet high. Baldy Road is dry, save the mounds of excess snow pushed aside by snowplows.

Below 4,000 feet the snow has melted, with none of the white stuff showing up until one reaches Baldy Village.

Above 5,000 feet conditions change dramatically, with plenty of snow. By the time you reach Ice House Canyon and the switchbacks, large piles are everywhere, with some residents still clearing snow. Access with a two-wheel drive vehicle is possible to the ski lifts, except in the early morning hours when below freezing temperatures make for icy road conditions.

Crowds have been light this week, but officials expect that to change over the weekend. The lifts are open and officials report excellent skiing via the chairlift to Baldy Notch at 7,800 feet. Single day lift tickets are $51 at mtbaldyskilifts.ltibooking.com. Discounts can be found at mtbaldyresort.com.

Hiking anywhere with snow will be difficult — and possibly dangerous — at best since most trails will likely not be clear for several weeks. Even the short half-mile trip on a service road to San Antonio falls is difficult because of deep snow. Hiking trails may not be passable, especially above 6,500 feet. Trails at higher elevations of Mt. Baldy, Ontario, and Cucamonga peaks will be very dangerous and summiting any mountain impossible.

Warm rains are due to arrive Friday, March 10, which will likely cause mountain streams to swell. This storm is expected to bring little or no snow expected in higher elevations, so please check weather forecasts before driving up, as it will likely be very wet with possible flooding. Forecasters say the fast-moving storm will move out by Sunday.

High up Baldy Road just south of the ski lifts, residents were still digging out on Tuesday from not only four feet of snow, but piles of wet debris from plowing. The road up Baldy Road is clear but wet from the melting snow.

After walking half-a-mile in four feet of snow to reach San Antonio falls on Tuesday, these teens took a break to psyche up for another round of sledding. Courier photos/Peter Weinberger

On the way up to Ontario peak at about 3700 feet, small pine trees dot the area as the landscape flattens out. Also seen are Mt. Baldy, center, and Iron Mountain, left.



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