Watermelon on Mt. Baldwin via Laurel Lakes

Photo by Ethan Fichtner

Ahhhhh permitting in the Eastern Sierra. When I moved to Mammoth Lakes, I was stoked for walk up permits because I could finally get them easily from the Mammoth Welcome Center the day before. However, after COVID, ‘walk up’ turned into two weeks before the entry date and all online. Great for non-residents like I used to be, but a bummer as a resident because it meant using an online system that can be hyper competitive. Thus we got a permit for Laurel Lakes just out of Mammoth Lakes and then went over the Laurel Col. to the Convict Lake Basin to climb Mt. Baldwin.

Hiking over the Laurel Col. to Convict Creek Basin. (Photo by Ethan Fichtner)

Mt. Baldwin looks like a sea of gray rock scrambling from below and a good Class 2/3 objective that I naively attempted back in 2016. My friends to the tune of a newly discovered (by us) genre of Phonk went over the Col. from Laurel Lakes which had a nice trail. When Lake Genevieve showed up we started seeing the green and lush and quite striking Convict Creek Basin. On the far end of the basin we stashed our bags, rested for 30min and started up Baldwin.

Convict Creek Basin with the gray Baldwin in upper middle

There were several use trails gaining the rock from alongside river cuts. Using these trails we gained a lower NW ridge instead of going up a Northern gulley to gain the Southern upper ridge. This lower ridge transitioned from scree into solid rock and then a short little exposed traverse section along easy ledges to the Southern Ridge. The Southern ridge was semi-loose and at 12,000 ft took it out of us making the final 500 ft to the summit.

Hiking the beginning of Southern Ridge (Photo by Ethan Fichtner)

On the summit, Ethan pulled out his watermelon and Lucas cut it for the group. Wearing five layers in the wind with clouds threatening to roll in, the watermelon was amazing.

Photo by Ethan Fichtner
Photo by Ethan Fichtner

One small watermelon consumed, we descended the peak down to our campsite and prepared dinner.

Descending the ledges traverse section (Photo by Ethan Fichtner)

A couple friends camped out under a tarp on a cold night that made be glad for my zero degree sleeping bag in my summer tent. Mid-June, this cold snap brought temperatures in the low twenties.

Camp (Photo by Ethan Fichtner)

The next morning we hung around camp for a bit before departing via Convict Creek trail in great time. I was nervous about the steeper traverse on Baldwin going up and sorta apathetic. However, its always worth going to see what you see because you never know how things turn out up close. Also worth noting what you go up to ensure its something you will want to go down and recording GPS waypoints to find your way back. Watermelon on the summit was the highlight of the trip!

Coming out (Photo by Ethan Fichtner)