Ascent of Mount Baldy-North Peak on 2019-05-16

Climber: Gustav Sexauer

Others in Party:Katrina
Date:Thursday, May 16, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Baldy-North Peak
    Elevation:11400 ft / 3474 m

Ascent Trip Report

We had just wrapped up a trail assessment of the Railroad Grade Trail #601 across the plateau near the Baldy wilderness yesterday, and slept near the trail to hit it early. We did manage to fuel up with Goob's Pizza before finding our camping spot, though. Once the morning light was coming, we headed over to the East Baldy Trailhead and got to hiking. The first bit was relatively flat and went alongside some meadows. Then the trail entered the trees and did switched back by some rock faces which we did not expect to see. There were some huge trees in this area, including some across the trail that had been hand cut. Above those cliffs we encountered snow for the first time. It wasn't too tricky to walk on and there were many footprints to follow. We then crossed the spot with one of the best views, a rocky section the opened to the south for a few hundred feet. We looked down on Big Lake and down Eastern Arizona's backbone. Next the snow returned and stayed a factor the rest of the way. The trail began to get hard to follow, since the trees were naturally separated the same width as the trail and there were no blazes. We were down to following just one snowshoer's tracks, as everyone else had turned back. Our iPad was also not loading the topo, so it was hard to figure out where exactly we were when we lost the trail east of Mt. Thomas. We ended up going steeply up the slope and struggling to keep our boots from post holing or slipping on the snow. The snow was several feet thick at this point. We eventually found the trail again on the northern slope of Mt. Thomas, but the snow had conformed to the slope seeing as the trail was receiving little to no traffic, and the going was tough as we had kick in our steps cross slope for a mile or more. We wrapped in front of the face of Mount Baldy, (not Baldy Peak, mind you) and had a hard time finding the trail again due to post-wildfire conditions there. We occasionally saw a cut log which told us where the trail was, but I'm sure we were above or below the traverse most of the time. We got up on the northeast flank of Mount Baldy and lost the trail again for one final bushwhack. It was short pines and quite annoying, since we knew that there was a trail close to us that we just couldn't locate. I surprisingly found the top of the trail, with just four inches of the junction sign for the meeting of the East and West Baldy Trails sticking out of the snow. I wonder how tall this sign is. We then continued up the ridge to the cairn on top. It was hard to look at Baldy Peak and be sure that we are higher, but all of the data I have come across pointed to Mount Baldy as the higher peak. There were amazing views in most directions, except for north where Sunrise Park Ski Area stood in the way, but we could see Four Peaks, Mt. Graham, and the quiet mountains over the border in New Mexico.

On the way down we took a shortcut by coming straight east off of face the mountain and getting back on the trail when we crossed out old tracks. It was easier going down, but we were both beating our soaked feet up with all of the slight movements in the snow on most steps. Katrina was getting warn down on the way up, but now I was getting warn down, too. We found the trail on the flank of Mount Thomas this time around and broke with our silly vertical footprints. Here I saw a grouse displaying its red colors before it got spooked off. This section was much more low angled when you actually follow the trail. There were even small dirt sections. The one downside was that there were a few trees down over the trail due to this small part of the trail being burned in the last forest fire. We tried to leave arrows once we met back up with our old tracks so that future hikers wouldn't follow our footprints the wrong way. After not seeing anybody the entire day, we came across two women down by the lowest cliffs. Who knows where they were headed to. Back at the car, it was 4pm, and we had used a majority of the daylight available to get this done. There were elk in the meadow and it felt like evening was coming on. We drove to Show Low for dinner and it turned out that Kenny was there as well. After eating with him we caravaned back to the office and set our records for the latest we had ever made it back. 10pm.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2045 ft / 623 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2045 ft / 623 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.2 mi / 22.9 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Pleasant, Very Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2045 ft / 623 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2005 ft / 611 m; Extra: 40 ft / 12m
    Loss on way in:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:7.4 mi / 11.8 km
    Route:East Baldy Trail
    Start Trailhead:East Baldy TH  9395 ft / 2863 m
    Time:6 Hours 13 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2005 ft / 611 m
    Distance:6.9 mi / 11.1 km
    Route:East Baldy Trail
    End Trailhead:East Baldy TH  9395 ft / 2863 m
    Time:4 Hours 25 Minutes

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