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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:46 pm 
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Location: Truckee, CA
REMEMBER TO REFRESH YOUR INTERNET BROWSER TO PICK UP CHANGES TO THIS THREAD

Hi there BackCountry Customers! This portion of our website is dedicated to helping everyone get into the exciting and rewarding sport of backcountry ski touring. Email me directly anytime at mike@thebackcountry.net and please don't take anything I've said as 100% accurate. I'm just trying to help and have fun going off of memory and looking at pictures I take. There is no precise measuring or complicated computer mapping going on here. Use this guide as a way to get ideas, meet other people, and share what you know with our backcountry community.

There is plenty of info and pictures for a hundred more ski tours and peaks on this forum. For starters you could search by all posts authored by "backcountry" which is me. I try to provide some helpful talk in my trip reports. Use the search box for filtering right to the Sierra Peaks you are interested in.
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I am making subtle changes each time I read this stuff. Sorry if I confuse you, I got a C in English literature. Plus opinions just change over time on a topic like "route suggestions". What a crazy thing to begin with! Especially when there are no actual trails, we are talking about traveling over snow after all. And conditions are different each time. But there are common "trade routes" where the locals usually make a track, which are efficient and safe paths for the most part.

If you found our old Tahoe Backcountry Ski Guidebook program, disregard it as and use this thread on the Backcountry Forum.

Scroll down and I'll describe the basics. Please email me if I make a mistake. Your help creating a guide for our friends is appreciated. Against my lawyer's advice (yeah right, like I have a lawyer) I don't measure contour lines for mileage and slope pitch. There is no factual book of names for places in the backcountry either. Just doing my best here! I can take any criticism, critique, and advice. Anyway, my goal is really to just start the discussion for users to enrich with more personal, fun, entertaining, and informational posts.


How else can you stay safe in the backcountry?

In addition to reading trip reports and my guidebook entries:
1. Follow the Sierra Avalanche Center daily discussion. You will learn a lot, and also be reminded of things you forgot.

2. Take mountain skills classes from our local experts at ASI. Yes, there are other guide services, but you can feel good spending your hard earned money with them. Bela has been in business for over 30 years, and helped ESTABLISH the IFMGA program for mountain guides of this country to be recognized world wide; particularly with the ski mountaineering program. He has been a teacher and examiner of ski guides. He has taught ski touring skills and avalanche training longer than anyone, and is simply an incredible teacher. His guides are no different. They are really fun people you will feel good about supporting. And like our shop, no one is getting rich. Please support your local mountain guides and mountain shop. Your support will come back to you with great relationships, free advice, and of course the continued livelihood of our businesses. True you could take a less expensive course at the college. But is that taught by a real lifer mountain guide who has skied and climbed around the world? I doubt it.

3. Read Backcountry Magazine. Monthly tech tips, avy science updates, where to go, gear reviews, and general stoke. Totally worth the 6 bucks. We sell this great magazine as well as Climbing, Telemark Magazine, Alpinist, Rock & Ice, etc...

4. Go get your feet wet immediately. You won't get lost on a sunny day near the road, and you won't get in an avalanche on low angle treed slopes. Follow the skin track halfway up the mountain. Just get out there! How do you think we learned the ropes? Most of the ski tours we are talking about have an obvious skin track to follow every day of the year. Iron out the bugs with your gear and overall efficiency. So when you hire a guide or get invited by experienced friends, you aren't holding people back with binding questions or blister problems.

5. Meet me in the store anytime for a personal consultation. Obviously I'm going to hope you buy some stuff. But I want you to succeed at this, enjoy it, and turn your friends into ski touring fanatics as well. I talk about the gear all day long and won't waste your time. I would love to help you figure out what makes the most sense for backcountry touring gear as well as what peaks to try and tackle. I'll give you some tips for traveling safe and efficiently anytime you want to hear it from me! email me anytime and we will hook up. mike@thebackcountry.net

6. Need backcountry partners? Try our messageboard "looking for partners" thread. Meet people in our shop! Lots of ski touring folks there obviously, many on weekends are in your shoes. Take a guided ASI skills class, where you'll also find other newbies looking for partners. And just go out there and be friendly at the trailhead and on the summit. Meeting people is easy in this sport, everyone is so cool!

But first, please read this warning before continuing!
These maps were not created with GPS accuracy. The recommended routes on these maps may be dangerous and even deadly depending on many variables such as current avalanche danger, weather, snowpack depth, skill and experience level, and time of day. If you are not an expert and experienced backcountry skier, snowboarder, snowshoer, or climber, we highly recommend you hire a professional guide to take you into the backcountry. We recommend excellent local guides and backcountry skills classes from http://www.alpineskills.com. You take FULL responsibility for yourself and your party when using this website for advice. There are inherent risks in going into the backcountry to ski, snowboard, snowshoe or climb. Those using this guide do so entirely at their own risk, and the author disclaims any liability for injury or any other damage by anyone traveling in the areas described. Please be patient if our guidebook recommendations end up being wrong for you. We don't know who you are! We are just showing you where we like to go enjoy the backcountry. Have a great time and please be safe!


Last edited by backcountry on Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:32 am, edited 24 times in total.

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 Post subject: Mt. Tallac
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:49 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2002 8:44 pm
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Location: Truckee, CA
Mt. Tallac

Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 2-3 hours
Elevation Change: 3,200' - from 6,535' to 9,735'
Recomended Map: Emerald Bay, California

Let's start with the best thing Tahoe has to offer. I say this because of the combined bonuses like size, accessability, safety, danger, terrain variety, popularity, beauty, etc... Mt. Tallac is the first peak I skied when I moved here, and that alpine trekker half day climb instantly turned me into a 95% ski touring skier. Expect about the same 3 hours to climb the 3200' now that you have modern bindings. My wife did it with a friend before me actually, borrowing some Karhu XCD skis and lace-only tele boots. She didn't know what telemark or backcountry was. She came home and said "Mike, let's tele...all the cool people tele". Now we have a store and have lived here for 20 years. She was right. All the cool people ski tour. Tele, AT, Splitboard, Snowshoe, whatever...

Mt. Tallac is the big, handsome peak behind Emerald Bay that is often photographed for Tahoe Ski Industry ads. Ski areas wish they had this terrain. Look towards the summit of Mt. Tallac with binoculars on most any clear powder snow morning, and you will likely get to watch a Tahoe Local making perfect turns down the north bowl.

The ascent route is usually well beaten in to the prominent East Ridge, just above "sweat hill" and your car. At the summit, Desolation Wilderness is perfectly spread out for you to examine. Pyramid Peak stands out as an impossible yet luring ski descent. Yes, it gets skied, and no it isn't as steep as it looks. Turn around and an unreal and unique Lake Tahoe View hits you like a ton of bricks. You get to see Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, and Emerald Bay in almost their entirety. Your first 3,200' descent will have you trading in your ski pass for new AT, Telemark, or Split-Snowboard gear. One of the more popular ski tours in the Tahoe Basin, Mt. Tallac can get tracked out fast. The scenery is so overpowering however, you'll forget to even look for first tracks. Ski it a few more times and learn the mountain, and you'll never cross a track again.

The high bowl offers both moderate and low angle slopes. Be very sure to steer clear of the cliffs below the bowl, easily spotted from your climb. A few skiers have died climbing and descending through this zone. Once you've wrapped around the cliffs, head back over to the more north-facing slope for winter snow. On other days the descent down the sun filled gully is nice corn, rather than crust. If you know you're looking for spring-like corn snow, have a local show you Cathedral Bowl. This is the wide, south-facing chute you drool over from South Shore. You'll have to circumnavigate the mountain to get back to your car, which could get you lost if you weren't careful. On just the right course, you can traverse back around to Spring Creek Road and make more fun turns along the way. Or go up and down the south slopes from the summer Tallac Trailhead parking area.

During a cycle of good corn snow and deep snow pack, take some extra water or a filter, and ski the south ridge all the way down to Fallen Leaf Lake. Yes, you will have to hike back up 3,200'. You can use Cathedral Bowl for the start of this descent, or head down the south ridge of Tallac looking for less tracked-up options. There are a few of them. There are beautiful 35 degree, wide-open slopes above Fallen Leaf Lake that are rarely skied.

For the ultimate challenge, pick your way down the Cross Couloir, which is just south of the summit. You can't see very far into it, and there is sometimes ice in the middle. Plus, you have to steer through some small cliff bands after you exit the couloir. This run looks mighty impressive when viewed from the East Shore. It gets skied regularly nonetheless. The crux is getting into it. The north facing side of the entrance is really steep, and the slightly easier south facing entrance hangs over a cliff. Don't fall basically. There are a few other incredible extreme descent options from near the summit of Tallac in a big snow year as well. There are at least 10 worthy, independent mini couloirs spread around Mt. Tallac.

There is also some excellent skiing on the steep north treed slope of Mt. Tallac. Skinning back up requires some skill, or you can just head out to a shuttle car left at the Bayview Trailhead. This car shuttle isn't really worth the effort, as you only get about 1500' of good turns for your 3200' hike. It is a nice tour however, and offers a view of the rarely skied South side of Maggie's south peaklet and its Dogleg Couloir. The best way to ski the north trees of Tallac is to park at Bayview Trailhead, and go up the drainage that fills Cascade Lake. This route follows a summer trail on the map, and passes some potential avalanche slopes on the south side of Maggie's.

USFS took away the traditional trailhead parking area that was used probably forever, since the first ski descent over 50 years ago. As of 2008, they recommend that you park at the sno-park, a mile or so south of Spring Creek Road. We sell sno-park permits for $5/day and $25/season. Hardware stores and some other merchants sell them also. This sno-park is right off of hwy 89, about 4 miles north of the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe. Or about 22 miles south of the "Y" in Tahoe City. You can no longer park ON Spring Creek Road. I haven't heard of anyone accepting this new parking area, it seems everyone parks on hwy 89 a few hundred yards south of Spring Creek Road, on the lake side of the street. Then they skin 30 minutes through the woods parallel to Spring Creek Road. There is usually snow on the road for most of winter, so you can skate back without skins in 10 minutes.

If you are coming from Tahoe City, make sure hwy 89 is open around emerald bay. It is closed sometimes when we get a huge storm cycle. Spring Creek Road is just south of Emerald Bay, and 4 miles north of the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe.

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black line shows approximate route most people take. Follows the main east ridge.
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Stephen Koch nearing the summit with Desolation in the background
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Here is one of many good links on our messageboard for Tallac. Just use our search feature
http://www.thebackcountry.net/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1326

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www.thebackcountry.net
mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:18 am, edited 22 times in total.

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 Post subject: Jake's Peak
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:17 pm 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Jake's Peak


Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 - 2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,357' - from 6,830' to 9,187'
Recomended Map: Emerald Bay, California

With some real sweat and skilled skinning, you can wind your way up to one of the most unreal lake view backcountry ski descents. Half the reason why you're sweating is to beat the crowds to the top. The ski terrain is only moderately steep, but the skin tracks hide in the trees where it gets steeper. Locals prefer to avoid any chance of repeat avalanches that have shown us some real damage in the past. There’s a reason why you’ll see missing strips of trees in places. There are some common starting zones you should steer clear from, but Jake’s gets skied enough for you to figure it out by just showing up a little late. You’ll still get fresh tracks.

Don’t park in either of the Bliss State Park lots on either side of hwy 89. Skiers could rally for access to these lots in the future, but it hasn’t been neccessary. Caltrans kindly and reliably plows out a large pullout on the east side of hwy 89, just south of the Bliss State Park headquarters. Bring a big shovel; you’ll still need to help work out a clean parking spot after recent snow. The Eldorado Sherriff who has been patrolling this area recently told me he would NOT ticket skiers who park in this spot. It seems to be a pullout just for skiers that has been maintained by Caltrans for decades. THANKS!

You can see the entire lake and most of Desolation Wilderness from the large summit area of Jake’s Peak. This mountain offers beautiful and widely spaced old growth trees on its north and east slopes. Finding your way to the car on the north side can be tricky at times, but you’ll always hit the road if you go downhill. Look for tracks, listen for the road, or head back uphill to find the skin track if you get turned around down low. If you ski the popular wide-open, east facing avy paths, continue all the way to the road and walk back to your car.

When it’s time for springtime corn snow, park a mile further south on Hwy 89,at the Emerald Bay Avalanche Gate Closure Turn-around. Make sure you are well off the road, and not blocking room a plow may need at the turn-around. In times of firm morning snow and deep coverage, try just booting straight uphill above your car to the summit. Or skin up the snow covered dirt road, past the old cabins, and head up the avy gully above Emerald Bay. This area has recently become quite popular. The terrain is very steep up higher, and there are no trees for a reason... be careful over here.

Skiers have received parking tickets at times parking at the above mentioned "avy gate closure" due to the Nov – May rule. I got one on a sunny day, when I wasn’t in anyone’s way. The Caltrans plow crew had just told me I could park there that morning, as they always do. The local Sheriff says he will not ticket anyone in the early springtime, inferring that you don’t have to wait until May 1st if spring-like weather comes early. Anyway, you probably aren't parking here during the wintertime because the slopes above are less safe compared to the North Side. Or maybe you know your snowpack and want to climb this south gully for one of many hidden steep couloirs on this side of the mountain. You can see them all from the Bayview Trailhead Parking area, drive over there and turn around!

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There are endless trip reports on our forum with info for skiing Jake's Peak. Here is one of them. Use the search feature for more or just go down there and buy a local lunch for showing you the best routes!
http://www.thebackcountry.net/bb/viewtopic.php?t=344

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Last edited by backcountry on Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:28 am, edited 13 times in total.

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 Post subject: Rubicon peak
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:30 pm 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Rubicon Peak


Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 - 2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,200' - from 6,800' to 9,000'
Recomended Map: Rockbound Valley & Meeks Bay, California

A Tahoe classic, this is the peak you can’t take your eyes off when you look toward the Sierra Crest above the west shore. The crux is figuring out where to park, since a few homeowners love to get skiers ticketed and even towed for some unexplained reason. Take a cab. Rubicon Peak has been skied by locals before anyone ever lived in this area, and is a beautiful old-growth forest cruise in a fairly avalanche free zone. The view from the top of its 100’ Class 3 summit scramble is not to be missed. Finding the summit of this cone-shaped mountain is easy. Finding your start location is very difficult with the tree cover. The upper North and East aspects are excellent. There’s also a nice quiet west side to ski if you time it right. Go with a local and pay for his taxi! Plus they'll help you from getting lost in the heavy tree cover down lower.

If you have rock climbing skills, definately go to the summit. I find it easiest to climb on the north side, and fairly easy to climb at the point of highest snow on the west side. Depends on conditions obviously. And there is only room for a few people on top. Don't fall off, this is an exposed class 3 scramble. You can turn it into class 5 in a hurry depending on what you grab or step on.

I haven't heard of ticketing in recent years, possibly because more ski tours are popular and the crowds are a lot smaller. I got towed one time by the guy who plows driveways near the top. I parked in an abandoned home owner driveway. My mistake cost me $500, plus the fiasco of getting to Truckee for the van.

Park anywhere, this mountain isn't that big. But to get dropped off at the highest possible start, here are directions:,Turn off of hwy 89 onto Scenic Drive, 14 miles south of Tahoe City. Then go left on county road 2538, right on Woodland, left on Manzanita, right on Lakeview, Right on Crest, left on Forest View, left on Highview, and right onto a steep dead end street. If you forget to bring these notes, just drive as high as you can in the neighborhood and look for the water tower and gated dead end road. There are sometimes a few spots to park down lower on the west side of Hwy 89, just south of this neighborhood. You probably won’t get there first, and they are not technically legal. It is also possible to park further south on hwy 89 and just wrap around to Rubicon Peak from the Bliss Peak Parking area. This very wide, paved, plowed turnout has been okay with local law enforcement for parking. The climb from here requires more route finding skills and some knowledge of the terrain. Stay clear of the steep gully shown on our map.



Here’s the parking deal according to Eldorado and Placer County, where many backcountry access issues are starting to arise. You can’t park anywhere but your own driveway from Nov 1 to May 1, unless you are off the highway BEYOND the snow stakes. Unless you carry around a team of snow blowers, good luck achieving this. The rule was pushed into place by the Meeks Bay Fire Department, who wanted a guaranteed clear path on all roadways during winter. Cal trans probably agreed quickly, as there was less chance for having to call tow trucks when cars were abandoned during snowstorms. The rule was put into place right after the record-breaking snowfall we received in 1982, when people just abandoned cars in the middle of Hwy 89.

Here’s the problem. If it’s a sunny day, and the snow is plowed all the way to the stakes, and you aren’t blocking a fire truck or snowplow in anyway, and you’ll be back in 2 hours, you’re going to get a ticket anyway. Even if you’re just running into a friends house for 15 minutes. There are a few signs in South Shore that say “no parking when snow removal conditions exist”. Makes perfect sense. But we have still seen skiers get tickets right next to these signs for no real reason.

Another problem. The Sherriff department sub-contracts some of the ticket writing work to traffic police, who come up from the foothills and bay area. I have been told that these folks don’t deviate from the rules for any reason. Nov-May rule tickets are often written in neighborhoods and even outside businesses like the movie theatres….even if you are definitely not hindering any snowplow or emergency vehicle travel. So the local law enforcement cuts us some slack only occasionally, while the rent-a-ticket writers never do.

Here’s the solution. Put more of these signs “no parking when snow removal conditions exist” signs up and add more details if necessary. Let people get ticketed or towed if they mis-judge the potential for snowplowing, or block the road based the biggest possible measurement of an emergency vehicle. For the rest of us, please allow us access to our hometown public lands from these quiet little pullouts. Or, build more parking, which I’ve been told point blank, is very out of the question. Designated parking lots have certainly been built for smaller user groups. Contact www.snowlands.org and Placer County and Eldorado County Supervisors and tell them you want access to your Lake Tahoe’s Wilderness in the winter too. Not everyone wants to go to a ski area.

If you do get a ticket for the Nov to May rule, you can write a letter asking to be excused for whatever reason you might have. I have been relieved of paying a few tickets because I took pictures to prove I wasn’t blocking any snowplow or fire truck efforts on that particular day.

Back to Rubicon Peak. This was one of the first popular backcountry ski destinations due to it’s reliable powder, awesome views, and relative safety. Locals parked on this high, lonely dead end road for decades, bothering and blocking no one. No neighbors can even see the parked cars. In one recent year this neighborhood seemed to be patrolled daily by the local sheriff. I asked what the real problem is, but just got the Nov to May rule answer.

More on our local law enforcement. I know many of these guys personally, because they like to ride bikes and backcountry ski. I know a few others because I’ve received parking tickets. I know some more because I read the paper. We have an all-star crew of people working in the local law enforcement, and it’s one of the reasons I feel all warm and cozy about my beloved Tahoe Community. These guys rock, and always stop to talk or help. That sadly either leaves us with the answer that they need to collect extra ticket revenue, or their bosses put winter backcountry recreation at the bottom of the list of importance. This is unfortunate especially since people have come to explore the Tahoe Backcountry in winter since day one, dating back to a guy named Mark Twain. John Muir didn’t come to Tahoe to park his horse at the casinos either. I have contacted quite a few county officials and law enforcement about these parking issues and gotten nowhere. Maybe they think I’m after more parking for business reasons. Please help by politely asking for some slack on the Nov - May rule.
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Here are some great trip report threads with information about the Rubicon area. there are more, use the search feature.
http://www.thebackcountry.net/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1232

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Mike Schwartz
www.thebackcountry.net
mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:26 am, edited 14 times in total.

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 Post subject: Bliss Peak
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:32 pm 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Bliss Peak
Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,400' - from 6,600' to 9,000'
Recomended Map: Emerald Bay, California & Rockbound Valley, California

Bliss Peak, also known as Hidden Peak, is the short tour Tahoe City locals hit before work, or if Jake’s Peak is crowded. Bliss Peak offers world-class views and runs, but they are only in a few small spots. Consistent mature tree cover in this zone lends to relatively less avalanche danger. The powder stays good for a long time as well, but you probably won’t find fresh tracks here due to the small number of worthy slopes to ski.

Parking for Bliss Peak is found in a large, paved, plowed pull out on the east side of hwy 89. You can drive by this parking spot without notice. It is in a windy part of the road, and just north of the Bliss State Park Headquarters. Cal Trans and local law enforcement has told us that we can park here, and I haven’t heard of anyone receiving a ticket. Walk across the street and follow the skin track up to the Sierra Crest. Half way up, you will spot some steep cliffs from a bench. Stay away from this steep area along the descent. Your route up and down lies in the trees next to these cliffs.

You can also go for neighboring Rubicon or Jake’s Peaks from this parking spot with some creative route selection. Tree cover is thick down low, and you really need to know these peaks a bit before attempting this. If you go for Rubicon peak, avoid the steep gully shown with XX on our map. You won’t be able to climb the south side of Rubicon Peak either.


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scratch that about less tracks. This area gets fully tracked up the day the sun comes out after a storm. Still, it's called Bliss Peak. how bad can it be?

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www.thebackcountry.net
mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:32 pm 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Twin Peaks/Grouse Rock


Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 - 2 hours
Elevation Change: 1,678' - from 7,200' to 8,878'
Recomended Map: Ward Peak & Sunnyside, California

If you’ve skied Alpine Meadows, you may have wondered how to get over to this nearby backcountry beauty. Your choices are either to skin an easy 1000’ to the Sierra Crest from the top of Ward Canyon, near the Sherwood Chair, or traverse all the way out along the crest the ski area. If you want to earn your turns without a lift ticket dangling from your jacket, park at the end of Ward Creek Road; a 5-mile drive from the Sunnyside area on the West Shore. The privately owned parking area at top is maintained for Ward Canyon residents, for accessing the Sherwood Chairlift. They have been friendly towards skiers going for early season powder, or anytime this backside lift isn’t running. Don’t park here when the chairlift is in operation. The backside of the ski area usually opens around Christmas, just in time for you to graduate to bigger Tahoe ski tours anyway.

One way to get to Twin Peaks is to aim uphill to the crest and bang a left. It’s hard to resist the temptation to just drop back down the slope beneath Grouse Rock however and a long way out to Twin Peaks. This east facing treed slope beneath Grouse Rock takes a surprising amount of skiers to track it out due to the width. If you’re looking for a real quickie, or just a nice view of stunning Twin Peaks, head downhill unnaturally, and away from the Sherwood Chair, for a lap or two in the north facing trees beneath Stanford Rock.
Back to skinning up Twin Peaks from the bottom near Ward Canyon's end and the Sherwood Chairlift....well, you're on your own. The best way is probably to TRY and stay at the same elevation as the chairlift and contour around all the creeks, until you are pretty close. Then head uphill beneath the peak. I've skinned up to the crest about a half mile north of the peak, weaving through steep trees, and found it to work well also.


Stanford Rock


Location: West Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 hour or less
Elevation Change: 1,433' - from 7,040' to 8,473'
Recomended Map: Ward Peak & Sunnyside, California

Stanford Rock is a West Shore quickie you can hit from the bottom of Sherwood Chair, at Alpine Meadows Ski Area. Stanford Rock offers a short, moderately steep, treed slope, that holds winter powder for a long time. Climbing up to Stanford Rock is worthwhile just for the stunning and close range view of Twin Peaks. From the Sherwood Chair, head downhill unnaturally, and away from the lift. Find the base of the north facing treed slope you saw from you car, and pick the path of least resistance. You will often find a skin track here. Coming back can get a bit confusing, and requires putting your skins back on for a short stretch. Head over for a run below Grouse Rock if you still have time.

I’m not sure what Alpine Meadows stance is on ski touring in this area. USFS owns all the land, and you can’t accidentally lure the resort skiers up the hill and into trouble.

Park at the end of Ward Creek Road; a 5-mile drive from the Sunnyside area on the West Shore. The privately owned parking area at top is maintained for Ward Canyon residents, for accessing the Sherwood Chairlift. They have been friendly towards skiers going for early season powder, or anytime this backside lift isn’t running. Don’t park here when the chairlift is in operation. The backside of the ski area usually opens around Christmas, just in time for you to graduate to bigger Tahoe ski tours anyway.


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Mike Schwartz
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mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:11 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 12:41 am 
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Posts: 1013
Location: Truckee, CA
Silver Peak

Location: Sierra Crest - Squaw Valley, CA
Duration: 2.5 - 4 hours from Hwy 89
Elevation Change: 2,328' - from 6,020' to 8,348'
Recomended Map:

Visible from the Squaw Valley parking lot, and also near the 7-11 on Highway 89, this hidden backcountry treasure has been skied by locals for decades. You’re often the only people on the upper half of the mountain, while hordes of Squaw and Alpine Meadows skiers have no clue what you’re up to right next door. This long, mellow ski tour usually starts from Highway 89, two miles north of Squaw Valley Road. After an hour of low-angle snow-covered road, you’ll begin a moderate 1,500’ climb to a beautiful east-facing bowl. The top small round summit gives you a real “king of the mountain” feel.

With a deep snow pack, you can also climb Silver Peak’s southern slopes, from behind the Olympic Village Inn at Squaw Valley. Or, book a few nights at the popular Bradley Hut just north of Silver Peak. This rustic Sierra Club Hut sits just below the Sierra Crest, above the Deep Creek Drainage. It puts you in position to explore Tinkers knob, and then hit Silver Peak on the way out.

The terrain around Silver Peak is mostly low angle and treed. Route finding may be difficult on the descent back to your car on Hwy 89, so just find the snow-covered road you came up on. Avalanche activity is rare in the east bowl of Silver Peak, but it would pile up pretty deep due to the gully in the center. Simply descend on either flank in the trees if you’re not sure it’s safe. Try kicker skins to save time skinning up the first half of this route; you can cut your time to the summit by a third.


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_________________
Mike Schwartz
www.thebackcountry.net
mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 12:42 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Mt. Rose

Location: Mt. Rose Wilderness - Lake Tahoe, NV
Duration: 2 - 3 hours
Elevation Change: 2,176' - from 8,600' to 10,776'
Recomended Map: Mt. Rose, Nevada

The Mount Rose Wilderness Area is a backcountry winter wonderland. Access is easy from the top of hwy 431, above the Northeast Shore of Lake Tahoe. With a high elevation start at 8,000’, you can count on Mount Rose for producing the deepest and driest snow in the region. Spend the day exploring a number of small sub peaks near the car, or go for the summit for a stark contrasting view of the Tahoe basin and Nevada high desert. The peak itself is often wind scoured, and usually a goal for adventure and views. Have a local show you the better routes to wind through this area, or study the map closely to grasp the possibilities. Climbing halfway up the south side of Mount Rose Peak will reveal major ski touring options. Buy a lift ticket at Mt. Rose ski area across the street one day for more views of your backcountry options.

The most popular skiing in the Mount Rose Wilderness is Tamarack Peak. Tamarack offers excellent ski descents on all sides actually, including an impressive steep north side. Hourglass Bowl is the best bang for your buck, although it surprised locals with a huge climax slide in 05. There is a nice, low angle and peaceful cruise on the west slope, and plenty of treed ridges in the area if you are not sure of avalanche danger. If you parked near Tamarack Lake, returning to you car may require a glance at a map. You can’t see the road at any point through the trees, but there are usually tracks to follow.

For a really long and low angle ski tour, skin from the hwy 431 Tahoe Meadows area to Relay Peak. Your hard work will earn you a huge view of Lake Tahoe, and most of it’s surrounding mountains. Look to the East for another awesome view of the greater Mt. Rose area. You will have to share this zone with snowmobiles, so you might want to avoid going on the weekend.

Mt. Rose Peak Proper offers fast growing corn snow on the south side, steep southeast chutes that sometimes fill in, and mellow east-facing trees above Sky Tavern. Avoid getting sucked into the Galena Creek Drainage if you go touring on the east slopes, and remember you’ll have to traverse back around the mountain and stay high enough to reach your car. Or, leave a car near the Sky Tavern Ski Area and do a car shuttle for extra vertical.


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There are many trip report threads on this forum for the Mt. Rose Area. Here is one of them. Use the search feature for more or just go out there and learn it from trial and error. This is a friendly place that is well traveled.
http://www.thebackcountry.net/bb/viewtopic.php?t=156

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Mike Schwartz
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Last edited by backcountry on Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:31 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 12:43 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Freel Peak

Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 4 - 5 hours
Elevation Change: 3,681' - from 7,200' to 10,881'
Recomended Map: Freel Peak, California

Skiing Freel Peak is generally something you do for your tick list, or just to get away from everyone. With 4 miles very low angle terrain between your car and the mountain, Freel Peak doesn’t get skied very often. Bring some kicker skins, and you can save lots of time cruising to its base. Bring adjustable poles, as you’ll need to push a bit during the skate back from Horse Meadows to you car. The good news is the climb doesn’t really hit you like the typical struggle of climbing 3 or 4 thousand vertical feet. This is a really nice tour into a quiet valley that houses our highest peaks just above. These peaks are Freel, Job’s, and Job’s Sister.

To ski the south side of Freel Peak; park in a small plowed pullout on Hwy 89. It is located 2 miles north of Hope Valley and the hwy 88 intersection. The pullout is marked “gate” on the topo, and lies on the east side of the road. This is where you would drive into Horse Meadow during the summer. Follow the snow covered fire road as best you can. Within a mile or two, it becomes easier to just aim for Freel Peak. You will gain 1, 500’ during the trip to Horse Meadow, but it sure won’t feel like you climbed much. Resist climbing up any real slope until you are sure you know which peak Freel is. Peak 10,562’ lures you up its south ridge quite easily. I have made this mistake and enjoyed the tour, but Freel Peak fell just out of reach because of the mistake. The ridge in-between is slow going.

Freel Peak’s south side is usually hardened from sun and wind, but the adjacent east facing runs on peak 10,562’ may be better. If the snow isn’t great on either, you’ll have a really nice, wide, 2,000’ patch of real estate to figure it out. Don’t rule out a powder day or perfect corn snow, both which can exist when you least expect it. This is a higher and dryer environment than the rest of the peaks in the Tahoe Basin. When you get back down to Horse Meadow you still have 1,500’ left to descend. The problem is that it stretches out for 4 more miles. Oh well. Wax your skis and enjoy some good conversation time with your ski partners.

There are some long ski tours on the north side of Freel Peak that I haven't done.

Job’s Peak 10,633’ and Job’s Sister 10,823’ can be reached in the same day if you are the fast and light type. Visiting all three summits is about 9 miles one-way, with 5000’of climbing and 1700’ of descending. From Job’s Peak, you will have an additional 3,500’ to descend over 7 more miles. Don’t bring your biggest skis for this one. You might try waxless skis if you ski well on them. Tell us out it goes for you on our message board.

Since you don’t go back to Freel that often, there are 2 other marathon days worth considering. One is a 1,700’ descent of Job’s Sister’s north side down to Star Lake. There is mellow terrain to hike back up in-between Freel Peak and Job’s Sister. The second marathon tour is the descent of Job’s Canyon, beneath the steep north face of Job’s Peak. You’ll need to leave a car in the foothills above Minden, NV.

Oh yeah. You can see Lake Tahoe quite well from the top. You will also get a great view of the Carson Pass area and the Steven’s/ Red Lake Peak Duo.


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Last edited by backcountry on Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:22 am, edited 10 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 12:58 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Job's Peak

Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 4 - 5 hours
Elevation Change: 3,633' - from 7,000' to 10,633'
Recomended Map: Job's Peak & South Lake Tahoe, California

Heading out to Job’s Peak means you’re going to be busy for the entire day. Job’s towers 5000’ above Minden and Gardnerville, and is the highlighted scene for Carson Valley Real Estate Marketing. Ignore the new posh golf courses in these photos and check out the north gully coming off the summit. Job’s Peak is our own, quiet, backyard monster peak that ends the chain of Eastern Sierra Giants starting 200 miles to the south.

I haven’t hiked up from the Nevada side, but I’d bet the folks down there do so. Parking might be hard to figure out, as the entire landscape beneath the east side of the peak has recently been developed. There wasn’t a single house when I did this tour in the late 90’s. We left a shuttle car down there and started at Luther Pass on hwy 89, just above the Hope Valley. Starting at 7,000’ sounded a lot better than 4800’. This meant almost twice the mileage however, with an 8-mile approach to the summit. Traversing over Job’s Peak from west to east is a great way to introduce yourself to the Freel / Job’s / Job’s Sister Trio, and is a very easy skin. Bring kicker skins to save lots of time approaching the base of Job’s Peak from the west. If you’re good at skinning, you could easily use kicker skins to reach the summit of any of these 3 huge peaks. The south and west slopes aren’t very steep.

You can ski the steep, committing north facing gullies, or just descend easier terrain a little to skiers left. As you drop into the Job’s Canyon Drainage, you encounter some fun tree skiing, and eventually some bush whacking at the bottom. You might want to check the snowline on the east side before making a date for the tour. On the other hand, skiing down low through the Job’s Canyon Drainage isn’t great anyway. Snowplowing through tight bushes is about the same fun as walking. There are some fun mellow slopes to ski on the west side, but you would be a bit bummed to go all the way out there from Luther Pass only to turn around. Bring adjustable poles just in case; you’ll have to skate a bit to get out if you return this way. Read our Freel Peak guidebook description for more ideas involving Job’s Peak.


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Last edited by backcountry on Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:56 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 12:59 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Steven's Peak

Location: Carson Pass - Hope Valley, CA
Duration: 2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,611' - from 7,430' to 10,041'
Recomended Map:

Steven’s Peak’s south side offers rolling, wide-open slopes to cruise for a long way back to you car. There are some steep, challenging ski descents to be had on the east side of Steven’s Peak if you know where to look. You can also wander off the north side and pick your way around the mountain, but prepare for a longer tour for less skiing. Steven’s Peak is often a better choice than neighboring Red Lake Peak, when you are worried about avalanche danger. The more consolidated, south facing slopes just seem more inviting when you see fracture lines on Red Lake Peak’s north side.

Park along hwy 88 in the Hope Valley, on the west side of the road. The pull out I like to use is due east of Crater Lake, and along a flat straightaway in the highway. You should not be bothered parking here, and can access Red Lake Peak or Steven’s Peak.


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Last edited by backcountry on Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:00 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Red Lake Peak

Location: Carson Pass - Kirkwood, CA
Duration: 1 - 2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,663' - from 7,400' to 10,063'
Recomended Map: Caples Lake & Carson Pass, California

Not well known, this high elevation giant is an easy one to ski from Carson Pass, which lies a few miles northeast of Kirkwood ski area on hwy 88. The Carson Pass area receives some of the biggest recorded snowfall in the country each year. This area is one of you best bets when coverage is a concern. It’s also a great place to go look for early season corn snow, as the easy-access south side bakes in the sun in-between storm cycles. With only a 1,500’ climb from the car, you can quickly put yourself on a summit that offers a wide variety of descent options.

For a ski tour one step longer and steeper than the south side, wander off the southeast corner and aim for benchmark 7660 shown on the topo map, down on hwy 88. There is a huge tube sticking out of the snow, where avalanche control bombs used to get pumped out near the top of a 2,200’gully. Avalanche control hasn’t been done for years to my knowledge. When you get into the gully, you can’t help but sense the power of what goes on during big storms right there. This avy gully is really fun to ski, and ranges from 30-35 degrees. It is definitely something you should only do in a freeze thaw cycle, when you know it won’t slide. You will pop out at the road where you’ll have to skin back uphill for a few hundred feet. Don’t skin around at the highway level, but rather cut the corner and aim straight for the start of your skin track.

The northeast side of Red Lake Peak hides more hidden treasures in the form of powder skiing. Parking for north side access is found in a large, paved pullout on the north side of Highway 88, a few miles east of Carson Pass. Skin up to Crater Lake. From here you can pick up the northeast ridge, which takes you to the summit. Re-use your skin track and session the tree runs if the snow is right, and hit the summit for your last lap. Be careful to steer clear of the many cliff bands below the high bowl. If you become nervous of avalanche danger, you can carefully pick a safe way back down along the northeast ridge, or head over to adjacent Steven’s Peak for its mellow southwest slopes.

If you know the terrain well enough, you can do a car shuttle and start the climb from Carson Pass. This saves you 1200’ of climbing, but doesn’t shorten the day or overall effort. Car shuttles are rarely worth the effort, and it is always best to check out snow conditions and ski descent possibilities first hand by climbing near where you’re going to ski. On the other hand, seeing more of the mountain isn’t such a bad thing. Red Lake Peak sports awesome views of the Roundtop area across the road, as well as killer distant views of Desolation Wilderness, Lake Tahoe. You can even see Freel-Job’s-Job’s Sister Trio to the west.

Don’t forget to buy your California Sno-Park Permit for Carson Pass. We sell them, as do hardware stores and some other ski shops. If you need one down there, you can pick one up in Meyers at a little ski and board shop. Permits are $5 for the day, or $25 for the season. The fine for not having one is $75, and the probability of ticketing is high.


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Mike Schwartz
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Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:22 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:01 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Roundtop

Location: Carson Pass - Kirkwood, CA
Duration: 1.5 - 2.5 hours
Elevation Change: 1,781' - from 8,600' to 10,381'
Recomended Map: Caples Lake & Carson Pass, California

Drive a mile west of Carson Pass, or a mile east of Kirkwood Ski Area and pull over for a clear view of this striking little peak. Roundtop seems to call to you and threatens you at the same time. Reaching the summit is very easy actually. Skin a few miles to the base and scramble up class 2 rock on the west side of the peak. Bring your skis to the top if you’re planning on dropping into the infamous “Crescent Moon Couloir”. This north facing dogleg couloir is a popular goal for extreme skiers and snowboarders, or those who just have a screw loose. It’s hard to forget about after you’ve seen it. The line gets skied regularly when avalanche dangers are low. The Carson Pass area receives some of the biggest snow dumps in the country each year, and is your best bet if you’re concerned about coverage.

The challenge of the couloir depends on how soon you try to enter it from the hanging snowfield. The challenge lessens a bit if you make a few turns before trying to get into the couloir. The real crux is controlling your fear, because you can’t see the couloir or the end of the cliff as you start down the 35-degree hanging snowfield. Of course another crux is choosing a day with nice soft, safe snow. You wouldn’t want to slide off this thing before making it into the gut of the couloir. It is quite narrow once you’re in there as well. Unless you try to enter the run at the very top, you can descend this route without exceeding 40 degrees or so. Nevertheless, it’s quite an adrenaline rush to drop into the Crescent Moon Couloir.

If you can manage to take your eyes off the Crescent line, there are excellent lines to descend all around Roundtop Peak. The backside grows perfect corn snow quite quickly during a warm spell. There are a few 2,500’ south facing gullies back there at that perfect 35 degrees we all enjoy. Bring some extra water if you head down them, it can be a hot climb back up from Summit City Creek.

The beautiful north facing terrain above Winnemuca Lake gets skied fairly regularly. You can climb up to the crest or just session the powder often found above the lake. This zone is a little more out of the wind, and often has better winter snow compared to the slopes beneath Roundtop and the Sisters. You can easily climb Roundtop and then ski the headwall above Winnemuca in the same day.

For a car shuttle option and additional vertical, you can leave a car near Red Lake and start your tour at Carson Pass. After exploring Roundtop for the day, head home over the southeast corner of Elephants back. This earns you an additional 800-1000’ east facing shot that is often powder snow long after the storms subside. Make sure you eye your Elephants Back descent from the road, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. The upper northeast bowl of Elephant’s Back should only be skied when you are positive the snow pack is totally safe and settled in the area. It’s a blank, steep slate of white that would be pretty difficult to judge or test by any avalanche forecaster.

Finally, don’t forget to buy your California Sno-Park Permit for Carson Pass. We sell them, as do hardware stores and some other ski shops. If you need one down there, you can pick one up in Meyers at a little ski and board shop. Permits are $5 for the day, or $25 for the season. The fine for not having one is $75, and the probability of ticketing is high.


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Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:28 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:01 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Waterhouse Peak

Location: Luther Pass - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 - 1.5 hours
Elevation Change: 1,781' - from 7,716' to 9,497'
Recomended Map: Waterhouse Peak & South Lake Tahoe, California

Hit Waterhouse Peak if you’re short on time, or worried about avalanche danger. You’ll find mellow runs, old growth trees, awesome views, and an easy 1,500’ climb. At the top of Luther Pass on Highway 89, you can park with ease and see the twin summits right from your car. Avoid the steep, treeless gully on the north peaklet. You can find good winter powder long after storms end in this high and dry location. Avalanche danger is rare here, as most of the terrain is less than 30 degrees steep. The trees are spaced a little tighter however, so bring your short skis. The north summit is a better ski, but gets tracked out fast. The un-crowded South Peaklet’s east slope is mellow in angle, but well worth a lap or two. Or leave a car down the hill in the Hope Valley for a nice long corn snow run on the South side to finish the day. You’ll find excellent views of Tahoe at the top, along with some cool, twisted ancient trees.


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Last edited by backcountry on Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:36 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:05 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Pyramid Peak

Location: Desolation Wilderness - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 3 - 4 hours
Elevation Change: 3,806' - from 6,177' to 9,983'
Recomended Map: Pyramid Peak Trailhead, California

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When viewed from Sierra-at-Tahoe ski area or the summit of Mt. Tallac, this bald beauty at the south end of the Desolation Wilderness will likely become your next goal. Park near Horsetail Falls on Highway 50, where there is no wintertime designated parking. Please ask Eldorado County to open the Horsetail Falls Parking lot for winter use. It is usually snow free, due to the southern exposure and low elevation. Take your chances with ticketing, although we haven’t heard of anyone receiving a ticket here.

The approach down low often looks too thinly covered, but deep snow pack always lies just a few hundred feet up in the trees. Our map shows the most snow-covered path through the first hill. Stay clear of the steep slope above Horsetail Falls on approach and during your descent. You can also access the peak from Aloha Lake in an unforgettable overnight Desolation Wilderness tour. Pyramid Peak looks un-skiable from most all vantage points because it’s so far away, and lacks defined ridges. The bald summit is cozy, and likely to be all yours.

But the south side is an easy 25-35 degrees, and the upper half is above tree line. Wind and sun usually harden the snow along this route, so try to ski it in a good freeze/thaw corn snow cycle. Start early, as the southern slopes turn to mush if it gets warm. Find your skin track and ski near it when you enter the trees lower down.

The east side of Pyramid Peak is moderately steep at about 35 degrees. Play it safe and try to time your ski for spring corn on this mountain. Avalanches hazards and ski conditions are hard to predict in high, windy, treeless areas like this. Just take the south side back home if you’re unsure. When conditions are right, a beautiful 2000’ east-facing bowl begs you to ski down to Gefo and Toem Lakes. You won’t notice any lakes; these small guys are usually buried by a huge snow pack. Head south from here towards the Horsetail Falls Drainage, but be sure to climb back up to your skin track.

The north side isn't too steep actually, like it seems from far away. It is usually peppered with rocks however near the top, and not a real flowing ski descent. A bit too windy and steep over here for snow to accumulate really deep.


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Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jun 05, 2008 10:26 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:05 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Ralston Peak

Location: Desolation Wilderness- Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 2 - 3 hours
Elevation Change: 2,697' - from 6,538' to 9,235'
Recomended Map: Pyramid Peak & Echo Lake, California

Ralston Peak is not a well-known backcountry ski destination, because access is not obvious or even available. The summit is hidden when viewed from the south, and you would never know it existed from a drive on hwy 50. The impressive, 2000’ northeast bowls viewed from Tallac or Echo Peak look intimidating and hard to gauge regarding avalanche danger. There are safe windows to hit this huge white wonderland on the north side, while other treasures are found above hwy 50 and you car. Ralston has something for everyone.

Park on or near Sierra Pines Road, 5 miles west of Echo Summit on Hwy 50. A sign says “no parking when snow removal conditions exists’. This makes perfect sense to me. Nevertheless, I received a ticket here, when the snow was completely plowed to the stakes and no snow was in the forecast. The road was wide enough for any imaginable emergency vehicle to pass. I wrote in to defend myself, but did not get out of the fine. El Dorado reserves the right to ticket you pretty much anywhere outside the few California Sno-Parks, do to the ultra general Nov-May Rule. Read more about this in our Rubicon Peak guidebook description.

So hopefully you won’t get a ticket, and will be allowed to access this beautiful part of Desolation Wilderness. There is no other way to ski in this area. Even the famous and magical Pyramid Peak next door has no wintertime access. Please ask El Dorado County for more wintertime backcountry access.

From Sierra Pines Road and Hwy 50, skin uphill above you car, through a low angle, treed slope and Tamarack Creek. The trees start to thin about halfway up, and you can easily feel your way to the top. Most of the terrain is not steep enough to avalanche along this south facing side of Ralston Peak. Don’t go too close to the edge near the top, as this area is heavily corniced. This is a great ski tour for less aggressive skiers, or people new to backcountry skiing. Enjoy fun skiing in a beautiful and relatively safe spot. You will likely have it all to yourself.

The ridge between Ralston Peak and Talking Mountain offers a number of quality ski descents on either side. Depending on whether you are looking for corn snow or powder, you should be able to sniff out excellent ski conditions on most days of the year. Cup Lake is a very cool formation, like a tiny crater on top of the ridge. Of course you need to get back to the car if you descend over here. I have parked out of anyone’s way in Phillips (shown on topo), below the steeper south facing slopes of Cup Lake. This zone is excellent for corn snow skiing, and catches you attention while skiing Sierra At Tahoe across the street.


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Last edited by backcountry on Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:51 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:06 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Echo Peak

Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,289' - from 6,606' to 8,895'
Recomended Map: Echo Lake, California

Echo Peak is has a lot of terrain to ski, with very few visitors. Probably because it’s a bit low angle for lower 3 rd, and doesn’t offer many trees to protect the powder from sun and wind. Springtime corn is amazing on Echo Peak, but it melts out down low a bit quicker due to the low elevation and low angle. The Echo Peak Bowls grow perfect spring corn snow and offer an unreal Lake Tahoe view. Figure out the timing and go do it. You can see the entire south half of Desolation Wilderness from the summit. The hidden northeast bowls of Ralston Peak will probably make it to your wish list when you see them from the top.

This peak is really a high point on a long ridge that includes Flagpole Peak and Angora Peak. Echo Peak gets you pretty close to the center of Desolation Wilderness, with an easy hike. The easiest and safest way to climb Echo Peak is from a dead end street named Wintoon, off of Lake Tahoe Blvd in South Shore. The homeowners on this street have been friendly towards backcountry access here to my knowledge, probably because it’s rare to find more than a few cars parked here. The locals in the immediate area park here as well. The dead end is very big and in a low snow zone. Please be courteous to the nice folks that live on this street!

The beginning of the route is a little tricky, only because you lose sight of the peak for 15 minutes. Look at the peak from your car, and spot the prominent, tree covered East Ridge. Aim for that, and you’ll have an easy time finding it when you break out of the woods. You can get turned around in the trees on the way back, so try to find your approach tracks down low. You can’t really get lost on the way back, as you will hit Lake Tahoe Blvd somewhere.

Stay away from the Echo Peak Bowls if you are concerned about avalanche danger. The safest way down is the same way you go up (as usual). Near the top of the East Ridge, you lose the low angle treed slope and have to cross more avalanche prone terrain for 200’. This spot is suspect because it is steep, treeless, and sometimes deep with snow that gets deposited from the summit winds. I’ve never seen it slide, but it's an obvious starting zone you have to skin through. There are big cornices to avoid beneath the summit as well. Don’t stand too close to the edge on the summit, and don’t ski beneath them. Descend the northeast trees for winter powder, or head into the bowls on either side of the ridge for springtime corn snow. Extreme backcountry skiers will wander off towards the Indian Cliff Chutes, but you'll have to skin all the way back up to Echo Peak.

If the Fallen Leaf Lake Road is plowed, you could leave a car at the end by the fire station and climb the East side of Echo Peak from Wintoon, for a tour over the mountain. If you've read through this guide, you know what I generally think of car shuttles however. Too much time wasted driving around, when you could be skiing. I do however recommend ski tours where you experience and learn the most amount of terrain possible.


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Here are some helpful links to trip reports for the Echo Peak area:
http://www.thebackcountry.net/bb/viewtopic.php?t=91
http://www.thebackcountry.net/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1231
There are more probably, use the search feature

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Last edited by backcountry on Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:23 am, edited 10 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:07 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Angora Peak

Location: South Shore - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 - 2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,188' - from 6,400' to 8,588'
Recomended Map: Desolation Wilderness Trail Map by Tom Harrison, USGS Topographic Map 7.5 Minute Series: Echo Lake, CA

Angora Peak is a small, hidden gem, which sees very little traffic. There is only a 1500’ vertical drop, and it’s a long drive from town. The ski descents are amazing however, with all 3 possibilities; south facing corn snow, north facing trees, and steep scary chutes. Views of Lake Tahoe are extra special, with Fallen Leaf Lake right in front of it.

Fallen Leaf Lake Road isn’t always plowed mid winter. If it is, drive 5 miles to the south end of the lake and part near the fire station. Head up into the trees for north facing powder that lasts quite a while after it snows. You can wander around to the south side looking for corn snow, dropping down to Angora Lakes. If you head down the south side because the corn snow is right, you might skin up the north ridge of Echo Peak next for a lap in the bowls to either side. Do a car shuttle using the Echo Peak parking on Wintoon Circle, off of Lake Tahoe Blvd in South Shore. Or just contour back around Angora Peak to your car.

Some of Tahoe’s most impressive couloir skiing is found along the ridge between Angora Peak and Echo Peak, called Indian Cliff Chutes. I haven’t tried to approach these couloirs from Angora Peak yet, but it’s easy going from other angles. You can find the north facing Indian Cliff Chutes from Echo Peak pretty easily. If you parked at Fallen Leaf Lake, climb the north-facing bowl right next door to the couloirs. The first, short, angled couloir isn’t too tough. The second one is a bit steeper and narrower. Just beyond that is the “Hall of God’s Couloir”. This one is for real, and you probably won’t stumble into it by accident. You have to climb or side-slip carefully down into it. It doesn’t always go through, and you can’t see straight down it to the bottom. There are even more cool looking chutes along this ridge, as you’ll see in our photo from Tallac’s Summit.


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Mike Schwartz
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Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:51 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:07 pm 
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Posts: 1013
Location: Truckee, CA
Dick's Peak

Location: Desolation Wilderness - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 4 - 6 hours
Elevation Change: 3,474' - from 6,500' to 9,974'
Recomended Map: Desolation Wilderness Trail Map by Tom Harrison, USGS Topographic Map 7.5 Minute Series: Emerald Bay, California & Rockbound Valley, CA

Dick’s Peak is a highly recommended pilgrimage for Lake Tahoe loving backcountry skiers. It is right in the middle of Desolation Wilderness, yet not too difficult to reach. Dick’s is fun to visit from a different route each time and test your map skills, as this peak is hidden for much of your ascent. My favorite route to the summit takes the average skier 4-5 hours, starting at the Bay View Trailhead at Emerald Bay on Hwy 89.You are basically following the summer trail, which climbs through a saddle between Maggie’s Peaks. Take off your skins and glide down to the base of Janine’s north ridge, and contour around without gaining any vertical to Dick’s Lake. Skin up to Dick’s East Ridge, and carefully walk up to the summit with skis on your backpack. Good skinners can go right to the summit in times of safe snowpack.

You can get to Dick’s with a little less climbing from the Eagle Falls Trailhead with just the right route. For awesome views and a really epic tour, climb to the notch above Mt. Tallac’s Bowl and traverse the long ridge above Gilmore and Half Moon Lake, that connects the two peaks. This route is frustrating with ups and downs. In the springtime, you'll be taking your skis on and off too much. Coming back from Dick's to Mt. Tallac makes a lot of sense however, in um...a...car shuttle dare I suggest? Here's where a car shuttle is cool in my view. See a LOT of terrain you couldn't do in a day as an out-and-back.

The north side of Dick’s is often wind scoured, but well worth the effort for the views and your tick list. Don’t ski the north slopes if you are concerned about avalanche danger. High elevation, treeless bowls like this are less predictable than the tree runs you normally ski around Tahoe. The slope isn’t nearly as steep as it looks from across the lake, and you can drop in fairly easily from near the summit. Your easiest option to get back to the car is to retrace your steps. You’ll have to put your skins on and trudge back up to the saddle in-between Maggie’s Peaks. From here you will likely get to enjoy excellent powder skiing in the trees above Granite Lake. Follow it’s drain at the east end and ski along your skin track all the way back. This is some long schloging in both directions, when you could be skiing better terrain on the way home.

A better option for very strong backcountry skiers is to ski down to Dicks’ Lake, and skin 800-1000’ up the west side of the Janine Ridge (not named on maps). Now you get to pick out your point of entry for a run that is too good to be true down to Azure Lake. You will still have to climb 800’ to the Maggie’s Saddle, from the north end of Azure Lake, and keep the leg strength to ski ANOTHER 1500’ down to the car from there. In all, this tour is about 5,500’ of elevation change in just over 10 miles. This isn’t too hard for most avid backcountry skiers, but it will probably turn into a very long day. Mostly because you’re having the time of your life, in some of the most beautiful ski terrain in the world! There are some steep, avalanche prone slopes above Azure Lake. There is lower angle terrain in the direction you need to go anyway, which is the north end of the lake. There are excellent ski descents to be had above the south end of Azure Lake as well, dropping from the highest point on the Janine Ridge. If you become worried about avalanche danger after climbing to the Janine Ridge, follow it north and ski down easy terrain along some rocks and find the skin track you left in the morning. Azure Lake is frozen solid and buried deep for most of the winter.

The south side of Dick’s offers a perfect, 35 degree, 2,000’ slope that can grow perfect corn even in mid-winter. This is a better ski than the north side if you time it right, but requires a real game plan. One obvious choice is to hike back up to Dick’s Pass. This means a 1,500’ climb, because you won’t feel like stopping until you hit Half Moon Lake. Another way to ski the south side of Dicks is to start or end with Mt. Tallac.

If you don’t have a shuttle car and want to see Dick’s and Tallac in the same day, start at the Bayview Trailhead. When you return, descend the trees on the north side of Mt. Tallac at the end of the day. You’ll end up in the Cascade Lake drainage, and start a short and scenic adventure schlog back to the car above a buried summer trail shown on the map. This route home reveals clues you’ll need to ski the Dog Leg Couloir, hidden on the south side of Maggies Peak.

Don’t be afraid to spend a night or two. You won’t want to leave when you get out there.


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_________________
Mike Schwartz
www.thebackcountry.net
mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:00 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:02 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Maggie's Peaks


Location: Emerald Bay - Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 - 1.5 hours
Elevation Change: 1,822' - from 6,837' to 8,659'
Recomended Map: Emerald Bay, California & Rockbound Valley, California

Maggies has two summits, split by the summer Bayview Trail. This is the route out to the Janine Ridge and Dick’s Peak, as well to the saddle in-between Maggies’ two peaklets. Parking at Bayview Trailhead on hwy 89 is just above the south side of Emerald Bay. You do not need a Sno-Park Permit, and we have never heard of any parking issues here. This is where tourists park in the winter to check out Emerald Bay.

Maggies isn’t a popular ski tour, because of a few reasons. The terrain you climb from Bayview Trailhead is a bit tightly treed for good skiing. The peak doesn’t look that impressive from the road either (until you realize the bigger picture from the avy gate). And with Jake’s Peak or Mt. Tallac on either side, Maggies gets ignored for good reason. If you go with a local who really knows Maggies, you’ll be sold. Like Bliss Peak, the few small zones that are good for skiing, are really good. The views are awesome from the south summit, and will get you psyched to go explore the Janine’s Ridge and Tallac’s North Trees.

The cruise up to the peak is pretty easy, except for a few choices you have to make in the steep terrain below the saddle. Easier terrain lies to the right of the saddle, but it’s not easy to continue skinning along the ridge without deep snowpack. Maggies is a heavy snow zone, and the steeper terrain should be avoided with any avalanche concerns. Powder snow lasts awhile however, with the mature trees blocking the sun from crusting things over.

The north and east facing trees above Granite Lake provide excellent skiing, with wide spacing and nice views. Steeper and tighter tree skiing can be found directly beneath the south peaklet for expert skiers. Do a few laps in the trees, because the skiing beneath Granite Lake is usually more of the survival variety. Follow your skin track back to the car, descending the snow covered fire road you found on the way up. There are real dangers to be avoided while descending Maggies. It is recommended that you ski near your skin track until you have explored the area a few times. Avoid the steep terrain shown with XX’s on our map! These are the cliffs above hwy 89 at Emerald Bay.

There is also great skiing on the north peaklet of Maggies. Most skiers descend back to Granite Lake from here. Be wary of the enticing, steep, north facing gully that draws you in near the summit. Snow would pile up very deep if it slid, and often does just from skier slough. You can ski around it, or take your chances. Regardless of which way you descend the north side of this north peaklet, be sure to avoid the steep terrain and cliffs above hwy 89 and Emerald Bay. Careful route finding can lead you down the cool looking benches you saw from the road. Pop out near the Eagle Falls Trailhead for a car shuttle, or walk back up the road. The walk is about a mile and 500’ climb. There is no shoulder on the highway, so make it quick.

Steep cliffs drop straight down from the summit on the south side. This side of Maggies sees a few ski descents every winter, but you’ll want to view it from the Cascade Drainage or Tallac’s North Trees beforehand. The Dogleg Couloir on the South Side of Maggies South Peaklet is the only one I’ve done, and it can be bare rock in the choke. You wouldn’t want to tumble down on hard snow or in an avalanche back there either.


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Mike Schwartz
www.thebackcountry.net
mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:34 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:14 am 
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Posts: 1013
Location: Truckee, CA
Rose Knob Jr. Peak

Location: Mt. Rose Wilderness - Lake Tahoe, NV
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,000� - from 7,600� to 9,600�
Recomended Map: Mt. Rose, Nevada

Rose Knob Jr. is a quick ski tour for north shore locals who know you don’t need to drive far for amazing backcountry skiing. The views from Rose Knob Peak are among the best you’ll find anywhere in the Lake Tahoe Basin. There is usually a skin track right up the Southeast Ridge, and getting first tracks isn’t likely being so close to town. The day just feels right however. The idea of no state income taxes or parking hassles on the Nevada side, and added value of a T’s Burritos stop in Incline, makes for a relaxing day on “The Knob”. Mt. Rose Knob Peak is different from Rose Knob. (see topo map). Tracks are rare on neighboring Rose Knob, and the easy terrain beneath it looks equally fun to ski. Finding your car can get tricky if you don’t ski to your skin track down low. You never see the parking area along the descent, which is at the top of the neighborhood.

Coming from Hwy 28 and Lake Tahoe, drive up Hwy 431 (Mt. Rose Highway) for a mile or so. Take a left on Fay or Marlette, and follow Jennifer Street to the dead end. You can see the summit of Mt. Rose Knob Peak from you car. Stay out of the drainage, and skin through the trees to the Southeast Ridge. There is good powder skiing in the east facing trees from mid-mountain. If you go beyond this point, you will want to climb to the summit for your next opportunity for good skiing. The drainage does not make for good skiing. Going to the top is highly recommended for the views.



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Mike Schwartz
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mike@thebackcountry.net


Last edited by backcountry on Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:51 pm 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Castle Peak

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:03 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Donner Peak better map and info coming soon

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:13 am 
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Location: Truckee, CA
Bear Claw - Incline Village
more info coming soon

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