Summit Elevation (m): 2192
Trip Date: Tuesday, June 04, 2019
Round Trip Time (hr): 2.5
Elevation Gain (m): 730
Total Trip Distance (km): 5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: Easy to moderate or even difficult scrambling with some exposure and route options to make it harder or easier.
Technical Rating: SC6; RE1/2
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
It’s been roughly 15 years (!!) since I tackled the main summit of Mount Baldy and 8 since tackling the west summit. I don’t like repeats if there’s other options but on this particular day in June 2019 I decided it had been long enough and it was time for some updated photos and some exercise.
I left work a bit early to beat rush hour and arrived at the Mount Baldy trailhead around 16:00 only to find it overflowing with vehicles! Jeez. Even on a weekday now?! Crazy. I think it was a group of school kids but in any case my truck wouldn’t fit so I parked about 200m down hwy 40 at the next pull off on the west side of the road. Thankfully the huge group was just leaving as I started up in late afternoon heat and a strong west wind.
The great thing with Baldy is that there’s zero approach – just go straight up! There is some confusing trails near the start of the lower ridge near the drainage but once you’re on the main trail you can’t really get lost – although you could end up over your scrambling comfort. I found the popularity of this little peak has made the routefinding interesting. Without the GPS track and knowing that left meant more serious terrain I could have gotten off track. Where the track allowed a route left (more exposed ridge) or right (traverse bottom of ridge on scree / dirt) I chose to ascend left.
The exposed scrambling on the left (north) up the ridge is fun and moderate with some slightly more difficult moves than expected, especially one down climb with the rock worn smooth and slick from use. After this down climb there was an exposed traverse including a slab that would be an issue if snowy or even wet. Shortly after the down climb the north route traversed a really neat ledge system along the south side of the ridge (somewhat exposed) before joining back up with the easier bypass route and continuing up towards the summit block.
There are about 100 different ways to ascend the final summit block. Most of them are significantly easier than they first appear, especially if you wander back and forth a bit. On ascent I simply went straight up most of the slabs but on descent I managed to follow scree trails winding down amongst the slabbier terrain.
Summit views were surprisingly good, especially over Barrier Lake and up the green Kananaskis Valley. Descend was quick and easy, I took the bypass route and found it a bit challenging in trail runners simply because they wanted to slide all the time on the scree and hardpan dirt. I was pleasantly surprised by how fun this little scramble was and might even do it again in another 15 years.