Baldy Hut ( officially known as the San Antonio
Ski Hut ) is a favorite destination for Southern California adventure
skiers and has been for a very long time. Originally built in
1937, it burned to the ground in the early 1950's and was rebuilt
by Sierra Club volunteers who laboriosly carried on their backs,
and on the backs of horses, all the materials to rebuild this
fine backcountry cabin.
The trail up to the hut is somewhat hidden
( as some of my ski partners found out the hard way one day,
but that is a Tele-World Turns story, coming soon ) which keeps
the traffic down and surprisingly the place stays fairly un-crowded.
Nothing like it's cousin to the east, Tuckerman Ravine. Truly
amazing considering Baldy Bowl is located almost in the middle
of the megalopolis known as Los Angeles.
That's Neil sitting at the trailhead waiting
for the rest of the gang, you walk up a short fire road and the
trail branches off almost invisibly to the left, if you look
real carefully you can see it directly behind him. Three miles
of dry trail hiking and 2,200' of gain make for a good workout,
especially for a mule-dad, carrying two pairs of skis and all
of our stuff! (Thankfully with Neil now a teenager, those days
The location could not be better, the hut
sits at 8,200' right at the bottom of a spectacular bowl, only
half of which is visible in the above picture. Nearly three thousand
vertical feet of skiing can be had from the summit of Mt. San
Antonio (10,064'), back down to the hut. There are times when
one can even ski back to the car at Manker Flats, all the way
down to 6,000', but this is rare. Due to the southern latitude
and high elevation (warm days, cold nights) and the SE exposure,
Baldy Bowl is a virtual corn factory, serving up corn for brunch,
lunch or early dinner.
Corn For early Dinner
Corn for breakfast!
Neil at 9 yrs. old and 9 am getting turns in Baldy's broad
Gil and Dave Braun, Shorts and T-shirts.
Gil Estrada, last turns on great Baldy
In the picture at the top you can see many
shots off the summit ridge, they have all been skied and of course,
named. Dostie's Dare ( yes, Baldy Bowl is where the Couloir publisher
cut his tele-teeth ), is a narrow chute three over from the left
as you are looking at the bowl. The hut is down at the bottom
in the trees, about a third of the way over from the left. From
the summit of Mt. San Antonio the runs are big, steep open bowls.
Behind this peak are some other really fine shots as seen in
the picture below.
Left, these shots are behind the summit ridge,
also SE facing, they are sweet, steep corn runs! On the right,
Mike Elliot and Matt Kalin just came out of the trees smiling!
Yes we have trees!
The hut itself is quite large, it sleeps about
twenty five people, mostly on closely spaced bunks upstairs in
the loft-like area. There are some sleeping spots downstairs
as well. A large table is a focal point for the gathering crowd
and the inevitable gear discussions are lengthy and detailed.
In the kitchen are pots, pans and utensils aplenty and a spring
fed sink that pretty much runs all the time. A big wood-burning
stove adds warmth and ambience. It is a well maintained place
and worth every penny of the few bucks a day (honor system) that
you put in the coffee can.
Neil arriving back at the hut in his Supercomps and his too
short ski pants (hey what can I say he was growing fast!).
All in all, the Baldy Bowl experience is one
to remember and an important rite of passage for any SoCal based
backcountry skier. The terrain, the hut and the camaraderie are
trail to Baldy Bowl and the hut starts at the Manker Flats parking
area off Hwy. 39. This is the road up to the well known Mt. Baldy
Ski area. Lodging at the hut is on a first-come first-served
basis and, of course, you bring your own food and sleeping bag.
The map is the Mt. San Antonio quad. It is a long way to go for
help here and cell phones have been known not to work from time
to time, so be prepared and use good judgment.
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