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The last thing you would picture when you think of Southern California.

Words & Photos: Laura Austin

After completing this post I will have to change my name, move to a remote island, and go under the Witness Protection Program. Mt. Baldy is one of California’s best-kept secrets, and the people who are already in the know definitely don’t want me telling you about it. But to be honest, Todd Richards already blew up the spot a while ago with this Todcast episode. So if anyone notices an increase in numbers at Baldy, let’s just blame Todd. Although I don’t know if I would mind changing my name to Gertrude and living on some far away island.

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From this.....

Before this trip I had only heard rumors of Baldy, some coin it as the “Mini Baker”. So in mid March when the weather report was claiming feet of new snow I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to check this place out for myself. I’ve been riding Bear for about two years now and I still haven’t gotten used to driving from palm trees to snow in a matter of two hours. But going from Los Angeles to Mt. Baldy felt like landing on a different planet. One minute you are driving through lush green hills and the next you are in a winter wonderland of steep faces.

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To this in a matter of minutes.

Being some of the first people up there we rode fresh tracks all morning which opened up into bluebird skies. I was blown away by the terrain… mostly because it was steep. Not something you get at most other resorts in Southern California. Perfect for a powder day, but most likely dicey when the coverage isn’t there.

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A Jaguar with tire chains and monoboard sticking out the window. Doesn't get classier than this.

Some other industry folks in the know were spotted around the mountain that day including Todd Richards, Robbie Sell, and Pierre Wikberg, just to name a few. The people there were part of what made the experience. No one looking you over, judging your style, like you might expect to see at most resorts anywhere near Los Angeles… but people with nothing but smiles and high spirits just happy to be riding powder.

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Speaking of high spirits, we ran into the infamous Sticky.

I may have strategically decided to write this after the season at Baldy was over, in hopes that by the time next winter rolls around you will forget that it even exists. But if you do appreciate a good powder day, steep terrain, small crowds, aren’t a beginner, and happen to make it up there…. Just tell them Todd Richards sent you. If you need me I will be on my island.

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This doesn't suck.

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This photo is about as misty as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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View from the top.

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While there I saw a helicopter drop someone off on that peak in the distance. We can only assume it was Paris Hilton misintrepreting the weather man's report of mountains of powder just outside Los Angeles.

The liftline... pretty much everyone at the mountain.

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Other characters I ran into that day. Ryan Hargrave, Jeff Brusven, and John Dewey. They were kind enough to escort me to a three minute hike which led to my best run of the day.

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Eventually all good things must come to an end. Things got tracked out and it was time to leave.

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The only way down.