January 24, 2011
Mt. San Antonio – North Face
My history skiing Mt. Baldy's north face has typically run in one of two flavors: terrifying, or abominable. Okay, sometimes both. Baldy's north face seems particularly vulnerable to becoming icy, turning the entire north side of the mountain into a deadly-serious 40-45° skating rink. When the north side is icy (and sometimes it's hard to tell from above), your only choice is to stay away—it's not skiable.
But what happens when a January heat wave cooks all that smooth ice for a few days? How about a flawlessly smooth snowpack that hits the ideal combination of softness and hardness? DB and I peeked over the edge of the North Face last weekend (Jan 16th) and saw such a vast and inviting playground of perfect snow that I honestly think my brain tilted. Not only have I never enjoyed such perfect skiing on Baldy's north face, I don't think I've ever had such sweet turns anywhere in Southern California.
My expectations for the day were so low I didn't even bother bringing a real camera. This video was shot with my compact Canon SD940. Surprisingly, aside from autofocus issues, the video looks pretty darn good. I love that shot of me skiing off the summit, with the vast sweep of the north face in the background. What a mind-blowing bounty of backcountry skiing terrain! And check out how ridiculously smooth that snow is! Absolute perfection.
Concluding remarks: don't rush out to try this, please. With nighttime temps returning to freezing up there on Baldy, the north face is almost certainly once again a skating rink. You don't want to be anywhere near here unless conditions are just right. Treat the north face with all the respect you'd give an angry mountain lion trapped in your bathroom—stay away!