What a difference a week makes. On Super Bowl weekend a major storm hit our local mountains, and some who were out in it told about knee deep powder. The following Saturday, February 3rd , the temperatures were hitting 80 90 degrees in town, while 16 skiers turned out for a local tour up and down Waterman's east ridge. The crowd included myself as leader, Kathy Crandall assisting, and SMS veterans Mike Seiffert, John Anderson, Jim Valensi, Gerry Holleman, Bahram Manahedgi, Richard Geist, and eventually our Chairman, Randy Lamm who slept late and caught us on the summit. The remainder, many on their first SMS outing, included Lousia Bonnie, Greg Scarish, Keith Himes, Dan Anderson, Paul Kirste, Stephen Bates, and Jennifer Iceland.
As is usually the case on a Waterman local tour, snow conditions were changeable and challenging. At least most major obstacles were covered, except when I mistakenly led the group on a quickly aborted run down the peak's southern slope resulting in some stone grinds. Overall, I believe it was the best coverage for this date since El Niño. Everyone made the summit in good form, and we enjoyed not only a warm and sunny day, but also a clear view of Catalina Island and the LA basin. The snow was very soft and heavy for much of the descent, but with occasional spots of old powder or wind pack. All clearly designed to challenge even the veterans.
We traversed the ridge eastward, passing the Buckhorn Ski Club's rope tow which was operating. The rope tow skiers remarked how old fashioned we were to be climbing for our turns, and we thought much the same of them for their antique tow. After a couple ups and downs along the ridge, we were pleasantly surprised to find a fairly consolidated and consistent surface for our final downhill run to the cars. Most of the newcomers passed our basic check-out tour requirements, and hopefully they will be attending future tours with the Section.
As an addendum, the next day, Sunday, Russ Haswell and I attempted to ski Mt. Baldy only to find that snow cover in the bowl and above for the most part was too thin and soft for skiing. We forced a few turns on the west side of West Ridge, but encountered mostly manzanita and breakable crust. Leaving skis behind, we slowly slogged to the summit through the soft snow obtaining another rare but clear view of the southland and the offshore islands. The descent on foot was equally challenging. Hopefully more snow before the Baldy weekend in March.
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