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Mt. Baldy, Mar. 18, 2021

Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:12 pm

I figured Baldy was worth a try on my one free day this week, even if it was only groomers like Feb. 14. Baldy got 16-24 inches last week while we were in Utah and another 4-6 on Monday. But only on the most sheltered parts of Thunder was there a base from January as it only snowed 2 inches during the prior 5 weeks.

Unlike Feb. 14, which was on a holiday weekend with tons of sightseers and snow tubers, yesterday was very quiet. So I had no issue walking into the ticket office, where they gave me a day ticket because their printer for the season passes was still out of order.

Riding chair 1 here's the view of Bentley's, which both Garry and I descended carefully at the end of our ski days.
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Garry said yesterday was warm, so in spring mode and daylight time I arrived at Thunder 11AM, which was about right. Fire Road/Bonanza was in corn mode right then and Shortcut/Robin's soon thereafter. Bottom of Thunder looking up Robin's at left:
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This trail merge area near the lifts acquired a distinct brownish tinge by the end of the day despite low skier traffic.

Some of the grooming on Robin's and Skyline left chunks that stayed firm a bit longer than the underlying base and needed to be avoided the first couple of runs. But by noon the chunks on those runs were also soft so they became a non-issue. With the low skier density those groomers were good to 3PM. By contrast on a 50 degree March day the groomers at Big Bear will get chewed up and clumpy from traffic by noon.

View from top of Skyline, on its first groomed day after last week's snow:
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10,000 foot Baldy peak is at left, too sketchy to ski chair 4 terrain at right.

The ungroomed takes longer to soften, as it's steeper and partially shaded.
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Coverage is better than February but still not what it was last April.

My first 9 runs were on the three groomers. Garry arrived and joined me about 12:15. Overview of Thunder from Robin's to Skyline:
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Garry had warned me that a lot of the ungroomed was unconsolidated heavy snow, but I was pleasantly surprised that an adequate amount of it was skier packed when we started skiing it after 1PM. Emile's:
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Goldridge
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From the Fire Road we spotted these tracks on the NW face of Telegraph Peak.
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Garry has skied there a few times but I have not. He has also skied the SW face to the bottom of Icehouse Canyon 3,500 feet below.

Garry left at 2:30 because he skied 20 runs on Thunder the day before and was a bit tired. I skied a few mote ungroomed variations, Liftline, Tortilla Flats, a different line down Emile's and the trees between Liftline and Robin's.

Baldy under current conditions warns those of us who ski to the parking lot.
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The upper part of Bentley's had reasonable coverage.
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The main difficulty up there was unconsolidated spring snow because not quite enough people had skied it.

A couple of time I've had to walk down the gravel under the lower part of the lift, but this time I traversed above that.
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However I still had to get down this to reach my car, third one on the left side of the lower lot.
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From here any turns would penetrate to the rocks, so I traversed, sideslipped and made one turn by sitting down and flipping my skis in the other direction.

I skied 20,900 and like many Baldy days it was a workout. But it exceeded expectations because I was not confined to groomers as in February.

Baldy is going to close Tuesday-Thursday starting next week. The main Thunder runs are in decent shape but the beginner gulch and the base areas of chairs 2 and 3 are going to be problematic soon.
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