Harwood's Northeast Ridge — Page 8

Dan: No Snow

The Road Home

Well... heh heh heh heh... wouldn't you know it... ha ha ha!... there's... ha!... why, there's no snow on these here ski runs! No snow at all!

Of the three of us, Dan seems to be doing the best job maintaining his sense of humor. In fact, he claims he's glad there's no skiing. According to Dan's convoluted logic, good skiing now would wreck the trip. Luckily for Dan there appears no chance of that.

Mount Baldy Ski Area Skiing the Road Walking the Road Back at the Truck

In fact, since here at the Mount Baldy Notch we are currently at 7800' in elevation, to get back down to the truck Dan's got a nice big fat 1800 vertical feet of non-skiing to enjoy.

Bon Appetite!

In truth there is snow on our Forest Service road, though it is heavily laced with rock shards and dirt.

Fear not, however, because as the road winds around Coldwater Canyon, it constantly changes aspect.

Consequently, long stretches of the road are bone-dry.

During these portages, as Bill calls them, we pop out of our skis and walk.

Occasionally, if the section of dirt is short enough, I just walk across, skis and all, which seems to amuse my companions.

Hey: these boards of mine are Southern California Backcountry Skis. The retirement plan leaves something to be desired.

On, off. On, off. Again. Again. Again-again-again.

How many times have I popped in and out of my bindings? How many more vertical feet to go?

I'm reaching the point where I can't bear to snap back into my skis, even where snow appears. I just carry my skis dully on my shoulder, thudding down across rock, snow, whatever. There comes a time in a select few of my ski mountaineering adventures where I honestly begin to question my own sanity.

Who but madmen can claim to enjoy this sport, I wonder? This, I decide, is the litmus test—when I'm convinced of my own craziness, the trip has officially become a Classic. So now, I agree with Dan. Yes, for heaven's sake, whatever you throw at us, keep good skiing away. Don't spoil it!

The road turns westward across a dark north slope, and I realize a final irony is about to occur. Here, at the very bottom, there is skiable snow connecting to the parking lot. Skiing these last few manky hundred yards on Jello legs, we are able to get within 20' of Bill's truck. The sheer evil genius of it puts an unhinged grin on my face.

We've made it! Back safe and sound—more or less. Bill's truck is unharmed, which is a big relief, but when we motor down to Dan's car and mine, we see that someone has smashed out one of my windows. Broken glass covers the back seat. A sudden, terrible fear strikes me, and I pop the trunk to discover my most expensive camera is gone—stolen. The price tag of this trip has suddenly skyrocketed.

It's not always good to wish for a Classic.

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.