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Mt. Baldy, Dec. 25, 2019

PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2019 1:05 am
by Tony Crocker
With both of my sons out of town, I skied my first Dec. 25 this year. I have now skied all dates from Dec. 15 - Jun 2.

This was not a great ski day, but it was quite favorable as a scouting report in advance of the storm just getting started which could be 3+ feet. This storm has lured Powderchaser Steve from OpenSnow to SoCal.

To recap Baldy got ~4 feet of fluff over bare ground at Thanksgiving followed by two rain events during the first week of December. Then there was a foot of snow Sunday night into Monday. I expected to be skiing the groomers on Thunder while inspecting the ungroomed areas for exposed ice and rocks.

It was 27F in the parking lot at 9AM but the ticket office people said it was 8F up top :shock: . I'm not sure it was that cold but it was colder than I've seen in the SoCal mountains in a long time. View approaching the Notch:

Overview of Thunder:

The fog lowered onto the mountain before too long.

As usual, Baldy's conditions were a surprise. Fire Road/Bonanza was the the only groomed run on Thunder. The bottom of Bonanza was somewhat of a wind tunnel and quite a chill on the face. We next tried Skyline.

A short section had been groomed sometime ago but most of it had not. The light was a bit flat even early, so we did not return once it got foggier.

I next ventured into Emile's. The Sunday snow was cut up cement, slow going and very difficult skiing so I crashed twice. The good news is that it effectively covered up the ice and most of the rocks. View of Emile's from the Thunder lift:

At this point we needed a thaw break. The Notch restaurant was surprisingly busy. I'd estimate only 5% of the people there were skiing. When we went back out we alternated the Bonanza groomer with a few other options. Robin's was not groomed but it was fairly well skier packed.

This lower part had been completely washed out by the rain so it was good to see at least 3/4 of its width decently covered.

The upper part of Goldridge was also skier packed, but the lower part had the cutup cement so I bailed right into the trees where I got a few untracked turns before scraping my only rocks of the day on the final drop into Bonanza.

My final ungroomed run was in Robin's trees. I dropped into Robin's fairly early as I didn't want to hit more rocks on a steeper line. While it was difficult having only one groomed run with these conditions, I think it made sense. Grooming Skyline and Robin's would have exposed some ice and perhaps gravel, and surely it's better to let the incoming storm fall on the base from Sunday's snow.

While there were only a few snow flurries, there was a lot of fog and the wind was picking up. I quit at 1:45PM with 10,500 vertical. There was already a line of ~25 sightseers to download, but fortunately there was a separate line for skiers and we were the front of that. On the way down chair 1, here's the view up Nightmare.

Liz had never seen the SoCal snowplayers in force before and found them quite entertaining.

In particular she was unfamiliar with the local custom of filling up a pickup bed with snow and taking it home. In the traffic down the hill we followed this truck all the way to Upland.

In summary the snowpack on Thunder is mostly adequate already, and if the current storm plays out as predicted it will be quite robust. Skiing will be good as long as it doesn't rain soon after the big snowfalls as in 2017 and 2019. Chair 4 should also be good to go after this storm. Some of chair 1 will be skiable too if you know your way around.

Re: Mt. Baldy, Dec. 25, 2019

PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2019 7:48 am
by jamesdeluxe
Baldy's snow volatility is impressive.

When I saw the first photo with the pickup, I thought "why does it look like people shoveled snow into the bed?" I had no idea that it's a local custom to bring it back into town -- to make a very temporary snowman, one suspects.

Re: Mt. Baldy, Dec. 25, 2019

PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2019 2:33 pm
by Tony Crocker
There was a snowman built IN the second truck at Baldy.

But its head fell off before it got to Upland.

The next 3 days will be the perfect storm of urban chaos in the SoCal mountains. Mt. Baldy and Mt. High were both closed today due to road clearance issues. The storm total at Baldy's parking lot was two feet at dawn this morning and should be 3 feet by tomorrow morning. The snow level was 3,000 feet so 15 million people will see that snow abnormally low on the front side of the San Gabriel/San Bernardino Mountains. A majority of SoCal's population hails from tropical countries in Asia and Latin America where people don't see snow much less have to drive in it. Last but not least, it's Christmas vacation so all the schools are out.

The last season with Baldy in full operation by New Year's was 2004-05 and the one before that was 1992-93. This is not a slam dunk because Baldy says there is a downed power line today. But as of now they say they will be open tomorrow.

We will get to Baldy VERY early tomorrow morning. Getting down the mountain after skiing may take awhile.

Re: Mt. Baldy, Dec. 25, 2019

PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2019 10:12 am
jamesdeluxe wrote: I had no idea that it's a local custom to bring it back into town -- to make a very temporary snowman, one suspects.

Ditto. Never heard of that one before.

Hopefully Tony is getting the goods today (or about to).