Learning from Old Baldy

October 12, 2015Jake DiMare

Yesterday I set out to fulfill a goal I set for myself this year, and attempted to summit Mount San Antonio. At 10,068 feet, Mount San Antonio, known as Mount Baldy to most Angelinos, is the highest peak of the San Gabriel Mountains, and the highest point in Los Angeles County, California.
In the end I succumbed to dizziness and shortness of breath about halfway across the Devil’s Backbone where it cuts left around the peak of Mount Hardwood, at 8900 feet according to my GPS, but 9000 feet according to this topographical map. I suspect it was either the altitude, hunger, or possibly vertigo, but most likely the altitude. Since I had to hike about 3000 feet and many miles back down to the car, I figured it made more sense to be conservative and turn back.
My climb started at the Mount Baldy Notch, after taking the lift up from the ski area parking lot in Manker Flat. Max and our old friend Andre hiked all the way up to the notch and met me there. They went on to summit about 45 minutes after I turned back. Not only did they complete the full 4000 feet, Andrew made the entire descent with his boots jury rigged with an old pair of socks and a bungee cord, after his soles literally fell off just before the summit!
Of course, my problem was a lack of proper fitness and conditioning. This painful lesson has me feeling more serious than ever about getting my act together when it comes to personal fitness. Carrying 30 extra pounds doesn’t interfere with my daily life much. I can walk for miles, ride my bike to work, and sail competitively. But when it comes to hiking up mountains, ‘dad bod’ is a real pain in the ass (and legs).
Even though I didn’t make it to the summit it was a great time and I am really looking forward to trying again. Devil’s Backbone was truly incredibly, with breathtaking views on both sides of the San Gabriel Mountains. This narrow trail leaves you one misstep from a life altering fall and the footing is challenging. Not for the feint of heart…And certainly no place for anyone who’s afraid of heights!
Max and I are talking about another attempt in mid November before the snow flies. Hopefully I can get my cardio up to speed by then and next time I’ll have a picture from the summit. In the meantime, here I am taking a selfie from Devil’s Backbone:

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