Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the western US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.
Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:35 pm
I decided to check out Baldy soon after returning home from Utah as the snow is melting out at the SoCal locals areas with ongoing warm weather. A projected storm Tuesday/Wednesday may or may not be helpful depending upon rain/snow line. So I went Monday in hope for some good corn snow and certainly succeeded in that.
Garry Klassen recommended that I take time getting up there so I arrived just after 10AM and started skiing at 10:30. I immediately noticed that Baldy has installed a zip line over the tubing park.
The Notch restaurant and bar has also been reorganized recently.
The beginner gulch was groomed corduroy already in corn mode with almost no skier tracks. I arrived at the Thunder chair where the liftie said I was the sixth customer of the day. Garry arrived at 11:30 and he was probably 9th or 10th. My guess is that total attendance Monday was about 20 people.
The bottom of Robin's has become too narrow to groom, and at 10:30 it still had an icy sheen.
So I took my first runs on mellow Fire Road/Bonanza, which had pristine corn in the sun.
Two of those tracks are mine.
Skyline was the other groomer, and it was in the sun though at an oblique angle. Skier's right was firm but the left side had excellent corn so I did that for my next 3 runs until Garry showed up. It may be repetitive but Skyline is 1,000 vertical with gradually increasing pitch, a more interesting groomer than anything at Big Bear.
Garry and I skied 2 runs each on Bonanza and Skyline. Looking down Bonanza with burned off chair 4 runs and Baldy Peak in background:
With a better snowpack the SE facing chair 4 runs have early morning corn while you're waiting for most of NW facing Thunder to soften.
Liftline and Emile's have decent coverage but it looked like it was going to take awhile for those to soften, so we decided to take a lunch break.
We did test Robin's before lunch. Shortcut had softened nicely but lower Robin's was not quite there yet.
We got back out at 1:30, skiing Robin's and Skyline and their Toilet Bowl and Tortilla Flats variations. Baldy has installed a few rails near the top of Thunder.
Note L.A. Basin is still cloudy below.
Garry on Skyline, Mullins snowmaking reservoir in background:
Bottom of Skyline:
We skied the most sunny line of Emile's about 2PM and found it quite good.
Liftline still looked glazed from the lift but had at least as much sun and by this time skied well also. If you stay on Liftline most of the way down you can drop into the bottom of Robin's here.
We ran into Marcus, one of Garry's Baldy acquaintances, who wanted to check out Goldridge about 2:30. This is a double fall line, exact north facing so among the last runs to soften. Looking down Goldridge:
Garry skiing Goldridge:
At this point it was "skier's choice" as Marcus said. Anything that was covered, meaning all the shaded tree lines between Robin's and Skyline, were all good. So we skied until 4:15 closing bell, 3x in trees between Skyline and Emile's and 3x in trees between Liftline and Robin's. I skied 23,500 vertical.
Overview of Bonanza left and Goldridge center:
Overview of Thunder continuous coverage from Robin's to Skyline:
This was the closest to "country club skiing" Garry has seen since the Yellowstone Club at NASJA 2001. The low number of skiers preserved pristine corn on runs that could have been chewed up with more skier traffic. There can't have been many people there on the weekend either because Emile's and Goldridge often have huge moguls and this time had practically none. Garry was at Baldy last Wednesday March 15 and said it was even better then. It softened faster last week because there was a light breeze Monday and of course there was more coverage last week also. Garry even skied to the bottom at the end of the day on Bentley's last Wednesday and that was out of the question by Monday.
Liz' knee needed a break after the 7 days in Utah, but she would love to get out Thursday or Friday if the weather cooperates. Baldy usually surprises, and this time the surprise was definitely on the upside.
Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:34 am
Looks nice. Impressive that you racked up 23K on slow lifts.
Tony Crocker wrote:"country club skiing" (...) The low number of skiers (...) There can't have been many people there on the weekend either (...)
I always wonder how that place stays solvent. What's going on with Waterman?
Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:36 pm
jamesdeluxe wrote:Looks nice. Impressive that you racked up 23K on slow lifts.
Thunder is relatively steep with a 3-1 length to vert ratio. I've hit 30K a couple of times at Baldy.
jamesdeluxe wrote:I always wonder how that place stays solvent.
The Ellingson family that runs Baldy is not particularly competent (recall Tom Treaccar's attempt to modernize in 2010) but they have been there forever and presumably carry zero debt.
The zipline installation and modification to the Notch restaurant demonstrate that Baldy is seeking non-skiing revenue sources. Scenic rides in the other seasons are $25 and these upgrades are undoubtedly intended to lure more of those.
jamesdeluxe wrote:What's going on with Waterman?
Waterman is clearly a labor of love by the Metcalf family who made their $$$ in SoCal real estate and wanted to keep the place from closing permanently after the Stubblefield ownership debacle. Waterman opened weekends this year from Jan. 28 - Mar. 12. Unlike Baldy, there's not much at Waterman to lure visitors other than skiing.