Catch it just after a storm and you'll be skiing down virgin powder, careening down slopes well over a mile high while looking out on views of Catalina Island, some twenty-five miles offshore. Ten thousand-foot Mount Baldy has the steepest, most challenging slopes in all of So-Cal.
Nobody's going to tell you that Mt. Baldy is the very best snow in the state. Skiing Mt. Baldy isn't about it being the very best. It's all about that unique experience. If you've never been to a place where you can go from a morning of surfing to an afternoon of downhill ski thrills, that's reason enough to go. You owe it to yourself to have that experience. We're not talking about a little patch of flakes at the top of the mountain, Mt. Baldy is covered in snow most of the winter season.
While afternoons do warm up to warm temperatures, experienced skiers know to dress for a blizzard, donning light layers of clothing they can shed as the day wears on. You'll want waterproof and sunscreen. Sun-drenched slopes can get warm enough to melt, so you may find patches that are slushy on top, as you come around from shade to sun. But it's still more than worth it for the thrill of careening down a mountain that's nearly two miles high just an hour from the beaches.
Enjoy the Mount Baldy Lodge offering a full menu of burgers, sandwiches, and more like steaks and cinnamon rolls. They enen offer live music throughout the year during the evenings.
The mountain gets an average of 170 inches of snowfall per year. Baldy is justly billed as the largest and steepest, most intense terrain in all of Southern Cal. The runs are rated 20 percent for beginner, 40 percent intermediate, 20 percent advanced and 20 percent that are decidedly double-black expert. The quad chairs will take you up some seriously steep mountainsides, affording a first glimpse of what the mountain has in store. The longest run is some 2.5 miles down a mountain of more than 2,100 vertical feet.
The whole mountain can be ridden, but once you get up to Chair 3 the resort really opens up for you. That’s where you’ll find everything from double black diamonds and trees to a handful of beginner slopes. When there’s a recent storm, the powder is un-freakin’-real! One of the great things about this mountain is that it’s not crowded—long lift lines don’t exist and decent powder is the rule. Ride on up Chair 4 and there’s a terrain park off of to your left. The standards are all there, jumps, rails, pretty much everything. Sign up for the sixth annual “Money In The Bank” rail jam.
Some of the best snowboarding may be found in the back country. You’ll want to use good sense, especially just after a major storm, but if you’re willing to go that little extra, you’ll find some outrageous terrain, extreme challenges, and beaucoup buckets of powder. Trees? Yeah, they’ve definitely got them, but the underbrush isn’t often dense. And there’s nothing more glorious than looking out while you’re heading down a 10,000-foot mountain and seeing the Catalina Islands off in the distance.
If you can, rent a room or cabin locally. Enjoy the skiing and then head into L.A. for some fun. Just 45 miles from the mountain is The House of Blues, Roxy, the entire Sunset Strip, Hard Rock Cafe, Johnny Rockets, not to mention thousands of restaurants, bars and pubs, scores of Indy live music venues, the Greek Amphitheater, Universal Studios, an so on.