There’s no getting around it. Sometimes it just feels good to go all out and push the pace up a peak. Just ask the 500+ that do the Mt. Baldy Run to the Top each year.
There are three routes up Mt. Baldy from Manker Flat on which I like to push the pace: the Ski Hut Trail, Register Ridge and the Run to the Top route via the Notch.
The 3.5 mile Register Ridge route is the shortest of the three routes. Since all three routes gain about 3900 feet in elevation, Register Ridge is also the steepest. From where the Register Ridge route leaves the Ski Hut Trail to where it joins the Devil’s Backbone Trail, it gains about 2600′ over about 1.5 miles — an AVERAGE grade of nearly 33%.
Since the Register Ridge route is about a half-mile shorter than the Ski Hut Trail, and the Ski Hut Trail is about 3 miles shorter than the R2T, it might seem either Register Ridge or the Ski Hut Trail would have to be the fastest route to the top of Baldy. For someone equally adept at running and steep hiking, this isn’t necessarily the case.
For a “short” ascent for which fatigue is not a major factor, it’s the elevation gain and not the distance that determines the time. Basically it’s a matter of the rate of climb the runner or hiker can sustain. The winning time of the Baldy R2T is usually just over an hour, which works out to about 3900 ft/hour. Pikes Peak Ascent winners average about 3600 ft/hour.
In round numbers to do Baldy in an hour you need to average:
• 7 mph or 9 min/mile on the R2T course.
• 4 mph or 15 min/mile on the Ski Hut Trail.
• 3.5 mph or 17 min/mile via Register Ridge route.
Following are some Strava Segments associated with these routes and the current Course Records:
Mt Baldy Summit via Ski Hut Trail (3.9 mi)
Brad Harris CR 1:06:58 Apr 17, 2015
Segment starts at Falls Road gate.
Mt. Baldy Run to the Top (6.8 mi)
Lucas Matison CR 1:05:24 Sep 5, 2016
Records are 1:00:49 by Matt Ebiner (1987), and 1:15:32 by Carrie Garritson (1988).
Segment starts at the ski area parking lot. Subtract about 1:00 to compare to the Ski Hut Trail time. This adjusts for running down to the Falls Road gate from the R2T start and for the R2T finish not being quite on the top.
Register to Summit (From base of Register Ridge)
Erik Schulte CR 1:08:56 Jun 19, 2015
Segment starts at the Register Ridge – Ski Hut Trail junction. Add about 10:00 to adjust for the time from Falls Road gate.
So even though the R2T course via the Notch is about 3 miles longer than the Ski Hut Trail route, the fastest (reported) times up Baldy have been by the R2T route. The Ski Hut Trail route is a close second, with the Register Ridge route is a distant third.