Our Magnificent Mountain

Los Angeles skiers can be forgiven for feeling like exiles—we are surrounded by an endless sea of concrete and steel. Yet how truly fortunate we are to live and climb and ski in Southern California.

I knew, as I was shooting this video, that I was capturing something truly special. Something timeless and magical, something that would live forever.

I think this is the single most beautiful line I've ever shot. This line, and this day, were only possible here in Southern California. You couldn't write a story this unlikely anyplace else.

For the record, you really do have to climb back up to the summit to exit Mount Baldy's west face. This is a massive, impeccably aesthetic, isolated, no-exit line, which is part of what makes it so utterly perfect. It's also that same big white face you see looming on the horizon beyond the glass towers of downtown Los Angeles.

When it is icy, which is often, the west face is unskiable. When it is in shape, as it was last Sunday, it is absolutely a run that can change your life. Enjoy!

— April 7, 2019

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Charles April 8, 2019 at 12:17 am

Thanks- man is that gorgeous, thanks for the report!

Wait did that dude BA you toward the end?!?

Ethan April 8, 2019 at 1:18 pm

This looks like such an amazing run. I love all of these videos.

Matt D April 10, 2019 at 4:46 pm

I went up to the summit of Baldy yesterday. Snow definitely took a beating from that mini heat wave and the bowl is looking just about cooked, but coverage above 9000' was still good and the north face of West Baldy had a lot of snow. If you get it on the right day...

Dan Conger April 11, 2019 at 1:56 am

Were I a billionaire, I would put lifts to Baldy’s summit ... and there would be a west face lift. Sigh, dreams.

Brad Brown April 12, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Damn nice trip vid. Based on Saturday’s conditions at SS I was thinking the day would come soon for a repeat of your epic 2017 descent, your prescience for THAT day was inspired-witness Matt D’s observations just days later.
Congrats, but I repeat myself!?

Brad Brown April 12, 2019 at 6:00 pm

And tip of the hat for “The End” music, yeah caught that reference at run’s end.....and yeah I’m old enough to have had that tune on vinyl. If you listen to the lyrics closely you’ll really need Preston’s professional help.

Charles April 13, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Just watched again- beautiful. I'm driving down from Bay Area to seek out socal snow tomorrow. Plan, at present, is Baaden Powell. Backup is climb Waterman. Honk if you see a couple out of shape guys gearing up by a vanagon!

Sandy April 14, 2019 at 6:45 pm

12....TWELVE skiers ( well , two of em were splitboarding ) spotted in the South Fork drainage ! Big slides mid elevation NW San G , basically every gully , visible crowns and chunder debris . Skied Little Charlton off the top , corn and scratchy shade down to the Dollar/Dry junction .

george April 16, 2019 at 2:56 am

No, he BA'd us. Classy guys. Go home!

Tony Bird April 17, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Did I give you a nudge on this, Andy? Sure lived up to my dream of it, although I'd never have gotten it all done in a day.

Did you get car-to-car in daylight or did you camp? Too bad the ski hut was not scheduled for this prime time.

Keep this backcountry forever--there is so much interest in BC skiing these days that this ought to become a real gem of an undertaking. I'll try again when I get a little younger.

Andy April 22, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Tony we did this in one long day. I try to time hitting the west face around 1-2pm because that's when the sun warms it up just right, so we got back to the car well after dark.

It's such a fickle and exquisite line. Often completely unskiable ice; sometimes the run of your life! :)

Tony Bird June 4, 2019 at 4:11 pm

Timing it right is the great art of spring skiing. You fellas did it superbly. Looks like you gave in to the temptation of taking a second lap--pretty understandable.

If we get good snow for 2019-2020, it'd be nice to get with the hut committee for a good long weekend at this. Gil Estrada, bless his heart, opened it up just for me the week previous to your tour, but he could only do it for one night. I got back down to trailhead very slowly after a couple laps in the bowl--going far too slow to undertake the west face.