Sunday, January 9, 2011

busy baldy

Sunday climbers take direct route up San Antonio

By Guy McCarthy

MOUNT BALDY - Valleys and foothills of east Los Angeles County were socked in under a cold blanket of cloud much of Sunday, but above Baldy Village it was clear and warm.

Snows high on sun-drenched Mount Baldy drew scores of backcountry skiers and snowboarders, and squads of hikers equipped with ice axes and crampons climbed the steep, direct route to L.A. County's highest point.

Cloud cover viewed from above Baldy Village Sunday morning

Thousands more visitors drove up to San Antonio Canyon by the afternoon, packing parking areas above 5,000 feet elevation and briefly blocking emergency responders when a woman suffered a head injury in a possible sledding accident, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

By 2 p.m. two people had been treated for snow-related injuries and an estimated 4,000 people and their vehicles were between Baldy Village and the Mt. Baldy ski lift, Forest Ranger Mike Testa told Watershed News.

Testa said it was "a beautiful day" and he advised people to "be careful in the rocks and snow."

Search-and-rescue volunteers responded and fire engine drivers sounded their horns to get through traffic on upper Mount Baldy Road to reach one of the injured.

Rescuers on Mount Baldy Road while a woman is bandaged Sunday

It was so crowded by 2:30 p.m. authorities were stopping traffic near the Baldy Trout Pools, and a line of eager motorists a mile long stretched downhill through Baldy Village.

Traffic outside Mt. Baldy Lodge restaurant Sunday afternoon

Photos by Guy McCarthy