It may be warm here, but not at Mt. Baldy
It seems every week the Courier reports on a hiker getting lost, injured, or worse while hiking in the Mt. Baldy area. That continued with the helicopter rescue of Del Mar resident Abdollah Katbab, above the 8,000-foot level of Ice House Canyon on Saturday.
Because there’s little to no snow in Mt. Baldy Village (4,000 feet) leading all the way up to the ski lifts at 6,400 feet, it easy to underestimate the three to six feet of snow along the Devil’s Backbone, Baldy Bowl, Ice House Saddle leading to Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks, and of course, Mt Baldy’s summit.
It may be 65 degrees in Claremont, but the weather is bitter cold in these high elevations, with gale force wind chills dropping temperatures to around 5 degrees. This can cause serious whiteout conditions for which most are simply not prepared. Given this environment, the only advisable high elevation location for the public are the ski facilities at the 7,800-foot Baldy Notch.
Many of us enjoy the outdoors, including mountain snow in the winter. But the conditions at the higher elevations at Mt. Baldy are seriously treacherous for all but the most experienced, fit, and a well-prepared hikers. If you choose to visit Baldy Notch, take plenty of water, be sure to let someone know exactly where you are, hike in pairs or groups with fully-charged cell phones and/or satellite communication devices, and dress for freezing temperatures, strong winds and snow, as weather can change quickly.