The glory and splendor of hiking Southern California’s Mt. Baldy in the wintertime are very appealing to outdoor enthusiasts. However, some of the recent incidents cause us to reflect on the dangers of hiking on icy trails. Continue reading below as we discuss what experts have to say about the safety measures to take when hiking Mt. Baldy in the winter months.
What’s the Danger?
In recent months, two hikers have slid to their death while hiking Mt. Baldy, and dozens of rescue missions have been made. The mountain’s infamous Baldy Bowl is steep, sitting at a 50-degree angle, which imposes risks to hikers year-round, but particularly in icy conditions.
Given the high winds, the snow quickly turns to ice. So when paired with dangerous avalanche conditions, hiking can be extremely dangerous on Mt. Baldy at this time, according to experts.
Plus, emergency services can be slowed down due to inclement weather, so a quick rescue is not always on the table when something adverse happens on the mountain.
For these reasons, it’s important that hikers who venture out to Mt. Baldy are properly prepared and geared for safety, which we will dive further into below.
How to Stay Safe on Mt. Baldy
Here are a few things that experts recommend while hiking Mt. Baldy, or any icy trail for that matter, in the wintertime.
Clothing & Gear
Experts urge hikers to gear up with the proper clothing and equipment before heading out to the icy trails.
Especially when you’re in alpine conditions, like Mt. Baldy, you’ll want to make sure you have crampons, a GPS device, an ice axe, and a helmet. However, you cannot just have this gear on hand, you need to be adequately trained and experienced in using them in order for them to be effective.
This also means you should bundle up with the proper clothing for freezing conditions–like gloves, a stocking cap, layers, and waterproof outerwear.
Plan Around the Weather
As much fun as it can be to enjoy a winter hike, if the weather conditions are inclement, that likely means visibility will be low and trails will be slick–both of which can lead to dangerous accidents while hiking.
So, it’s important to check the weather forecast before you head out for a hike in the winter to ensure that you won’t end up in a risky situation. If you can see that a big storm is rolling in, it’s likely best to postpone your hike until the weather clears up and it’s safer to do so.
Bring a Partner
If possible, hike with a partner for increased safety. Plus, you should always inform someone back home of what your plans are, where you’re going, and when you plan to be back. So, if you don’t arrive by your intended time, they can alert the authorities and send them in the right direction to aid you.
Adhere to Posted Warnings & Signs
Lastly, experts remind hikers to heed all posted warning signs while on the trail. This can help prevent you from entering into dangerous situations and areas of the trail, and overall, keep you safe.
– Written by Bailey Schramm in partnership with stethoscope distributors Stethoscope.com