Santa Fe Baldy Trip Report (#15540)
- Signed By: Jay Meyer
- Date submitted: October 02, 2001
I summited Santa Fe Baldy in October, 1993, starting from the Santa Fe Ski Basin parking lot. Although this "standard" route does not present any technical challenges, it is long (approximately 12 miles round trip; plan on at least 6 to 8 hours) and presents a few minor route finding difficulties.
From the parking lot (approx. 10,000'), you rise up fairly steeply to the wilderness boundary at the top of a rise; you may start to feel the altitude in this section. For the next 2-3 miles after the boundary, the trail proceeds slightly downhill, crossing a small stream (sometimes merely a wet area) and into the upper part of a little valley. You then start to climb back up, and here is where you have to be careful with your directions. Several trails cross or join the route, and they are not well marked. The route finding is complicated in some places because the trail crosses open pastures and tends to "peter out" because hikers have taken divergent paths. If you get turned around, your intermediate goal is the obvious saddle at the base of Baldy's southeast ridge. As you get closer to that saddle, the trail becomes much more distinct.
From the saddle, your way becomes very clear. However, you will almost certainly be feeling significant effects of the altitude by this time. You simply follow the height of the ridge to the southern end of the summit cone, then tend slightly toward the western side of the cone as you approach the summit. The views from the summit are truly outstanding, especially looking down on the lake nestled in the middle of Baldy's "horseshoe" cirque.
I also attempted a climb of Baldy during a blizzard in April, 1995, resulting in one of my most "epic" climbs to date. After getting really lost and bushwhacking my way through deep snow on the mountain's southern flank, I reached the base of the summit cone at approximately 12,300' (so close!) but was then hit by an impenetrable wall of wind and snow, forcing me to turn back. It was certainly memorable, but I must caution you that the routefinding in this area does not get any easier with knee deep snow on the ground!