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
Map of General Route:
Angora Peak is a small, hidden gem, which sees very little traffic. There is only a 1500’ vertical drop, but you’ll find great terrain to ski in this location on Echo Peak’s east and north side. The ski descents are quality and picturesque, 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 has been gated in recent years! Contact USFS South Lake Tahoe and ask for access to this ideal Desolation Wilderness Trailhead. The road is generally plowed the full 5 miles back to the fire station and historical trailhead, while very few USFS cabin lease owners use their properties in winter. If you can’t get through the gate, use the neighborhood dead end streets off N. Upper Truckee Road. I use Wintoon circle and keep the noise down. Head up into the trees for north facing powder that lasts quite a while after it snows. With good timing you can ski steep south side chutes, dropping down to Angora Lakes.
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 to find them from the summit of Echo Peak. There are cliffs and some might not go through. Climb Mt. Tallac prior to heading out there and bring your zoom lens to document the conditions. You’ll have to skin back up steep terrain over Echo Peak again if you came from that side.
For the north facing Indian Cliff Chute descents, here is a recap. Skiers Left takes you down steep but manageable terrain for 500′ if you don’t go far enough to find the ascent route. The “A” chutes is a pair right below the highest rock on the peaklet. These aren’t too bad but would be scary in firm conditions. If you walk towards Lake Tahoe down the ridge for a few hundred feet, you’ll find the “Hall of God’s Couloirs”. These are for real, and you probably won’t stumble into it by accident as you can’t see all the way down. And they don’t always go through. A fairly easy hip check hop can get you through in average snow depth years, but later in the season of course. There are even more cool looking chutes along this ridge, as you’ll see in our photo from Tallac’s Summit. I haven’t skied Fallen Angel Couloir yet. Skiing the the north side of Echo in the Indian Cliff area is often wind hardened and sculpted snow. Skinning back up can be difficult. This is an area for experienced backcountry skiers with just one or two narrow paths to follow for a mellow route up or down if you look for them.