Ascent of Mount Baden-Powell on 2016-02-07

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, February 7, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Baden-Powell
    Elevation:9399 ft / 2864 m

Ascent Trip Report

The original plan for this ascent was to use the recent snow to ski down to Ross Mtn, one of the most unusual HPS peaks. Like many on that list, it has little prominence, but unlike many on that list, it is a real challenge to get to it. I figured that I would wait for adequate snow cover and then ski down to it, and skin back up and out. The morning started before sunrise at Vincent Gap, the current end of the plowed road, likely for the season. I got my gear together as the sun began to rise and started skinning up the boot-trodden trail. As the trail ascended steeply from the parking lot, the tracks decreased in quantity. Eventually, I came across very icy sections that required me to put the ski crampons on my bindings. This burned some time... Not long after that, I hit a section that even the ski crampons couldn't handle. Off with the pack, on with the regular crampons on my boots with the skis A-framed over my pack. After crossing an icy patch, my right crampon came apart and was in 2 pieces. I stopped, used my axe to cut steps a few feet back to a nice platform, and started to put the crampon back together. The metal piece that holds the front and rear halves of the crampon together fell and slid about 100 ft down the steep icy slope. Luckily it came to rest against a tree branch in view. I backtracked with one crampon on and the other crampon halves securely strapped into my belt. I got the piece, sat down on the nice trail just below it, and put it together as well as checking my left crampon. All good! These are a new pair of crampons by the way. First time using them... They are the lightweight aluminum ones. I did not bring my veteran steel crampons, thinking that my chance of even using crampons this day was slim.

I continued up until the warming sun began to soften the snow and once again I switched to skinning up the hill. After a nice section of skinning, I began to approach treeline and it iced up again. This time, I pulled my skins off as I A-framed the skis on my pack. The next time I would stop for a transition would be the summit! They are on my back to the top now... Back on with the crampons... I topped out shortly after that and made my way to just below the summit to the south into the first group of trees to avoid the wind while I ate lunch. At this point, I had burned 5 hours climbing Baden-Powell! Hardly a record by any stretch of the imagination. I could probably do it in 2 hours on trail in the summer... Transitions back and forth between skis and crampons had burned 2 hours of time! Most of it with the unnecessary downclimb, repair, and digging a platform with my ice axe while on a precarious slope below because I waited too long to transition.

Undeterred, I began skiing towards Ross. I was immediately appalled by the icy conditions encountered just below the summit. I had figured that the south-facing slopes would be perfect spring corn in the sun! Not so! I looked at the long ridge to Ross, checked the distance (3 miles), and figured that 2,000 ft of gain back up Baden-Powell in ski boots and crampons would take some time. It would also mean skiing the north ridge of Baden-Powell in darkening light and surely completely iced over. After only descending a few dozen meters, I stopped, tossed my skis on my shoulder, and walked back to the summit.

The initial descent was icy and unpleasant, but not long after hitting the trees, I had a great ski for quite a while. Towards the bottom, the slope steepened again and became incredibly icy. I have skied all kinds of conditions from Utah to Iceland to Alaska, and this was by far the most icy skiing on very steep terrain. Probably the most dangerous skiing I have done to date (well, maybe unroped glacier skiing across crevasses on Mt Fairweather, Alaska was more dangerous...). Anyway, a fall here would have meant a slide until I hit a tree and a hell of a time recovering a lost ski. Thankfully, no skis were lost and I made it to softer snow below. It was all edges. My ski bottoms never touched the snow and it was so icy that I left almost no tracks. Near the parking lot I began to encounter the usual LA area mountain crowds with their sleds, jeans, and other cotton attire. I skied past a couple on the trail whose jaws dropped as I S-turned right across the trail. The final minute or two of skiing was on thinner snow cover, so I had to stick to the actual trail.

It was still early in the day and I was upset that I only had a repeat ascent of Baden-Powell... Had I not already had Baden-Powell, I would actually have been quite pleased with the ascent! Word of warning: do not even think of attempting this one in the winter without crampons & ice axe. I was expecting spring corn from the heat and instead found solid ice!

Pics & videos of my Baden-Powell ski ascent/descent. Listen for the icy skidding in the videos...
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2839 ft / 865 m
    Total Elevation Loss:40 ft / 12 m
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Skis, Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2839 ft / 865 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2799 ft / 853 m; Extra: 40 ft / 12m
    Loss on way in:40 ft / 12 m
    Route:NE Ridge
    Start Trailhead:6600 ft / 2011 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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