Location: Convict Creek – Mammoth Lakes, CA
Elevation Change: 4972′ from Convict Lake, 3900′ +/ from Laurel Lakes Trailhead
Recommended Map: Mammoth High Country – Tom Harrison
Often overlooked, Mt. Baldwin is a big, steep, and fairly intimidating mountain that is fairly close to the popular paved Convict Lake Trailhead. It lies fairly hidden in the Convict Creek Drainage, tucked in-between tick list east side ski mountaineering peaks like Bloody, Red Slate, Laurel, and Mini Morrison. I never saw Baldwin until I noticed one day from the top of Bloody Mountain. And it wasn’t on my first trip up there, as it’s hard to draw your attention away from Red Slate North Couloir from that summit. So I guess the natural progression is go up Bloody, then go get Red Slate, and now you are ready for Baldwin.
Parking at Convict Lake is friendly, paved, and right off Hwy 395 just a few miles south of Mammoth Lakes. If the lake is frozen solid, go for it straight across to save time. This is a big lake, and crossing these things are scary no matter how cold and snow covered they are. And Convict won’t be that snow covered. It sure has seemed frozen solid for me a number of times. I also have walked and skinned around it on the north side to enter Convict Canyon. This trail is rocky and long enough where you might prefer trail shoes to bang it out. Studying your map should help you easily find the short steep slope to climb for Bright Dot lake on the south side of the canyon. You won’t see this beautiful little lake or Mt. Baldwin until you get up out of the canyon. At Bright Dot Lake just look up and pick a path that looks within your ski mountaineering skillset. I’ve only been there once, but my perception is that the snow coverage varies from year to year on this guy. Bring crampons and axe, and prepare for steep rocky slopes where snow doesn’t stick. I guess you could boot the couloir too, it’s about 40 degrees near the top.