Location: Mt. Rose Wilderness – Lake Tahoe, NV
Duration: 2 – 3 hours
Elevation Change: 2,176′ – from 8,600′ to 10,776′
Recommended Map: Mt. Rose, Nevada
Map of General Route:
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.