Not crowded, close to LA.
RUDE STAFF, slow lifts, mislabeled slopes, no night life, 1 beginner slope
First of all, let me start by saying I've been skiing for over 20 years on the east coast, and I haven't had a more unpleasant experience at ANY ski area/resort, and I have been to some really old and broken down places.
We encountered no problems at the ticket counter (we made a reservation online). First thing I noticed was the horribly slow lift all the way up to the resort that takes about 15 minutes in a 2-man chair. I had to rent skis since selling my old pair last year and the rental staff were nothing but rude punks. I will get into this in more detail at the end of this mini-book review.
I noticed that there was an annoyed customer ahead of me and wasn't sure why until it was my turn. One of the first things the girl at the counter did was basically insult the jacket I was wearing, saying it wasn't fit for skiing and I should buy their clearance scarfs, and also said if I knew what I was doing then I would need goggles and tried to sell me them too. My jacket was fine and I had eye protection already.
All while this is going on, the other employees in the shop are THROWING pencils, wads of paper, etc at each other. The girl at the counter then walks away while I am about to sign the rental form to go join in on their fun. WTF? I'm just standing there and I ask kindly, "So...is everything in order? Do I just sign here?" and she still has her back turned to me and just puts a finger in the air in my face and didn't say anything, but implying "I'm too busy goofing around, wait a second." So she turns around and takes my paper, initials it, and rudely says "Go over there," and points to the boots. I'm basically stunned at this point. I also overheard them swearing and insulting the guy in front of me after he had rented his stuff and left. Wow...I was stunned. I also couldn't help but notice about 10 signs asking for tips around the place with all of this going on. I wonder why no one ever tips them? Hmm...probably because they are immature ADULTS.
First thing I notice about the equipment is that it is not maintained very well...probably because they are too busy being idiots. I get my boots no problem, eventhough the guy was still goofing around. The guy getting my skis gave me skis that were a bit too small for me, but I could deal with it, so whatever. When I got my poles, the guy there gave me some that were obviously VERY bent, so I asked for another pair, but since he was busy screwing around, he acted like it was such a hassle to move his arm 2 feet to get a different pair. Basically, it takes about 15 minutes just to complete a rental when there were only 2 other customers there. It could have been 5 minutes at most if they weren't acting like a bunch of 14 year olds. Wow...
I was determined to not let a bad experience renting skis ruin my day, and was in a good mood as soon as I started skiing. However, I saw that ALL the lifts are seriously the slowest I have ever seen, and I have been to some really old ski areas. I'm guessing they have not updated the lifts in my lifetime. Also, on the eastern side of the mountain, there is only one lift that will bring you back to the lodge, and that's the beginner lift. On one occasion I had to get back to the lodge for a pit stop, and I was the ONLY person in line, but the lift operator said they were closing down the lift in 5 minutes to do repair on a chair and that it will take 15 minutes to fix it. I kindly asked if I could just get on so I could get to the lodge for a restroom break since it takes 5 minutes to just go up to the lodge on the lift. He said no. I asked again if I could please get on it since I was the only person in line (I didn't want to spend 15 minutes going up a slow lift to the top of the mountain and to ski back down, and I obviously didn't want to urinate on one of the trails), he said no again. I started walking up the beginners slope, and I noticed that they have the lift running when I'm halfway up and pretty tired. So I ski back after hiking in ski boots for 5 minutes and ask if they fixed it, he said "No, we're just going to do it later and not use the chair." WOW...common sense much?
I decided to have some lunch while up there, and it was a good thing I packed a lunch. Not only was the lodge very small (about the size of an average fast food restaurant), but the prices were insane and looked very questionable. I won't talk about the rude people inside the lodge, but the lodge was obviously not monitoring the alcohol intake of their patrons. Not good for trying to market yourself as a family place.
Also, there were several slopes that were expert about halfway down, and intermediate the rest of the way down, but it's marked intermediate. Not much of a problem if you're experienced, but this can be a serious problem for safety concerns. The slope leading to the parking lot is labeled as intermediate on the map, but on the trail description it is labeled advanced (just look at their map on the site, slope is #26)...lawsuit anyone?
There is one beginners slope, and like a lot of the slopes, it is misleading. The top is beginner, but the bottom half would be rough for a beginner. The only way back up to the top of the beginners slope if they make it halfway down is to walk back up...no hand ropes or anything to pull them back up. DO NOT BRING A BEGINNER HERE TO LEARN. It will NOT give them an opportunity to learn the fundamentals by throwing them down a hill. I felt bad watching small classes of first-timers trying to go down the hill, one girl was crying because it was too scary (slope #2). The other beginner slope is just a partial UPHILL straightline to the lodge area and is not a slope at all. There are two "Beginner" slopes listed on the eastern mountain, but it is just #6 Toilet Bowl (intermediate) the entire way, and they just tried to make the place look more beginner friendly. Well, the name is fitting at least for the whole place.
Western side was more or less the same issue, expert skill needed in the upper half, but intermediate in the lower half. One good thing is there are a lot of advanced and expert courses if you can stand the long lift ride to them. Not a bad place for advanced to expert skiing.
So the day is over and I go back to the dreaded rental shop to return my "equipment." I was actually going to tip them if they just did their job without acting like morons. Well, I guess I was asking too much. The girl is still there and still takes FOREVER to just tell me what to do, or even ask me for my name while I'm standing at the counter! I eventually just put my skis and poles down and she asks for my name, she pulls my paper, and apparently one of the workers WROTE A DEROGATORY COMMENT NEXT TO MY NAME ON MY PAPER (I cannot say it on here, let's just say it involved a heart drawn with a sexual comment after that). I asked who did it, and she laughs (didn't offer any sort of apology), and just says the employees are dumb. Rather than making a huge scene, which I could have easily done, I decide to "take the high road," and just state "Well, it just cost all of you a tip. Good day." At which point I turned in my boots and got my shoes, and left. With her saying another insulting remark under her breath as I was leaving.
Overall, this place sucks, even if you're an experienced skier. Rude staff ruined the entire thing, and I intend on telling everyone I know about my experience there.
If anyone read this all the way through, I thank you, and urge you to stay away from Mt. Baldy. It is not a place for families or beginners, and apparently if you pay them money to rent equipment, they treat you like crap. Brilliant strategy! If you are experienced and own skis/snowboard, then you might have an OK experience. Do not come to Mt. Baldy.