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South Lake Tahoe Trip Advice
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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Dec 3, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

Hey guys Im planning a trip out to South Lake Tahoe with friends in January and looking for some advice on things to do besides ski. So my fiance doesnt really ski and we were thinking of maybe doing some ice climbing/peak bagging in the general area but I cant seem to find to much information.


Im open to any and all recommendations of what we could climb while we are out there. Ice climbs, long hikes, alpine trad routes whatever. Im completely ignorant of the area so any info is useful. Although Im getting the impression there really isnt much besides ski resorts in the general vicinity. I hope you guys can prove me wrong!

-Adam


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By Stephan Doyle
Dec 4, 2012

Depends on what happens in the next month.

Ice might be in. Long trad probably out. Lots of ski tours and backcountry skiing to be had.


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By AdamB
From Charlotte, NC
Dec 4, 2012
Black Boulder Problem, sent after a generous skin donation

Depending on snow levels and if you have snowshoes, Castle Peak is a rad hike. It's off the Boreal exit on Rt 80. THere's info available online. You can score some backcountry turns from the top if you're inclined to schlep your skis up too.


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By Abel Jones
From Colorado Springs, CO
Dec 4, 2012
Nice Crisp day for an FA

No ice in the area. Its either pounded with snow or too warm for ice. Back country is really what its all about in January. Ski the resorts till a couple days after a storm then get beta on the many established trail starting points to the peaks around. If you're between storms and its a mild year you can boulder around town on the sunny aspects and you can do some serious climbing at Sugar loaf which is 30-40 minutes away and much lower in elevation and bakes in the sun. It is year round climbing there, granite and cracks of all grades. You'll probably just ski and love it but if conditions are bad then the climbing will be shirts off right down the road.


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Dec 4, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

Hmm as far as ice goes is there anything else within a reasonable distance of the area? Like less than 2 hrs drive?

Sugar loaf sounds like a good suggestion with my luck the days I'm there will be the driest and hottest in recorded history.


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By plantmandan
From Brighton, Co
Dec 5, 2012
J Tree after blizzard

Mount Tallac


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By splitclimber
Dec 5, 2012

hike, snowshoe, or skin into eagle lake butress for some short, easy alpine climbs. it gets sun and could be snow free, but probably not after a storm

www.mountainproject.com/v/eagle-lake-buttress/105861665

the bigger/better peaks to bag would be Tallac and Round Top, but with good weather there are lots of nice peaks to do like Ralston, Stevens/Red Lake or even echo or flagpole.

woodfords canyon will be snow free for mostly trad climbs

www.mountainproject.com/v/woodfords-canyon/106359636


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By splitclimber
Dec 5, 2012

lee vining is your best bet for ice and is less than 2 hours from south lake.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 5, 2012
Get down from there! <br /> <br />May 2013 <br />Photo by Duc

splitclimber wrote:
lee vining is your best bet for ice and is less than 2 hours from south lake.

I would say somewhat more, not less.


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By splitclimber
Dec 5, 2012

snap, you're right. it's about 2.5 hours

and i just drove it on Monday. :)


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Dec 6, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

Hmm thanks a lot for the info guys. 2.5 hours may be doable but it might be a stretch if the approach is long i dont see us being able to get much done. Mt tallac looks like it could be fun. Just a long slog.


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By Abel Jones
From Colorado Springs, CO
Dec 6, 2012
Nice Crisp day for an FA

Tallac would be a very long slog without skis, impossible if deep. Will you have backcountry set ups cuz it's not hikable on foot unless its really warm. With skis the peak is a half to 3/4 day trip. I had heard that there may be ice/mixed on some loose rock faces around kirkwood resort that if conditions are cold are good to go. I'm not an ice climber so hopefully others can elaborate on that. If no one does, ask at the outdoor store Ltd, some of those guys know ice, or go to Sierra ski and cycle works, a small shop by Safeway, they are the backcountry guys and climbers. I second the hike into eagle lake for the sun aspect rock on the far side. The climbing is a lot like spiders web of ny and the setting is great. Woodfords canyon is pretty too though the sunny aspect climbing is not as world class as sugarloafs. Find the ice and post it up here if its cold. Have fun.


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Dec 6, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

Yea we won't be back country ready as I'm admittedly more of a resort/park skier which is why I'm more interested in finding some hidden ice or something manageable by foot. I will have to try some of those leads. Thanks!


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By bergbryce
From South Lake Tahoe, CA
Dec 6, 2012

I wouldn't come to Tahoe to climb ice, personally. It's just not that good.
January should be ski season but last year in January I was climbing dry rock in Emerald Bay and climbing ice, in the same day. Who knows what this year will bring.
So far, lots of rain and not enough cold.

If there is any significant snow on the ground in town, you can rule out about any peak bagging unless you're bringing bc ski gear. Then the options are limitless. Anything in the Desolation wilderness would be good, Dicks or Ralston or you could do something along the western shore with a little less approach like Rubicon or Jakes, both will offer stunning views. Freel Peak to the south is the highest summit on the south shore, but it's not a very aesthetic peak, imho.


As others have mentioned, Sugarloaf is a default winter crag for a lot of people. Many other places are snowed in or wet during the winter.

No bc gear? Ski the resorts.
If there is any ice in, it will be at Cascade Falls in Emerald Bay. Park at the Bay Point TH, follow the trail out of the back of the campground, trending a bit left until you crest a small hill/ridge and you'll see the ice (if it's in) down in the canyon (about 15 minutes walking?). You'll probably see a lot of people too. It's low angle, WI 2(+) at it's best unless some of the steeper and shorter stuff forms on the left side. Really, you'd be better off hitting some ice in the northeast and doing a snow dance before your visit.


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Dec 6, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

Hmmm yea I was thinking the same thing more or less. We are going with friends who are just looking to ski the resorts which I don't mind but my fiancÚ and I are more climbers than skiers so more or less wanted to find a plan b in the area for one of the days if it was possible.

It's seeming like lugging the ice gear will be pretty useless though. So maybe bag a peak at best or maybe try and hit sugarloaf are the best options so far.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Dec 6, 2012
Colonel Mustard

Adam Fernandez wrote:
So maybe bag a peak at best or maybe try and hit sugarloaf are the best options so far.


Woodfords Canyon would be just as close to the ski resorts and has some quality rock as well. The climbing isn't as concentrated at Woodfords, but the Fortress area is very reliable in winter and has quality climbs from 5.8-5.11. The big advantage is way less traffic as Sugarloaf funnels in the Bay Area/Sacramento/Tahoe areas while Woodfords mostly just attracts the Tahoe/Reno climbers.


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By TWK
Dec 18, 2012

Looks like the snow in the backcountry is finally beginning to accumulate some. This could open up some distinctly non-Matawan type adventure opportunities for you.

A favorite XC ski trip of mine is to leave a car at Kirkwood resort and take another on up the road to Carson Pass. You'll need a SnowPark Pass for that. From the parking area at Carson Pass (Hwy 88) go south past Elephant's Back, past the north side of Round Top Peak (with maybe a side trip w/o skis to the summit), above Woods Lake on its south side, and on over to the east side of Kirkwood resort. If you get lucky, sometimes the lift operators will let the backcountry skiers take the lift up the backside., and you can ski the groomed trails down the parking area and bar.

You'll probably want to have metal-edged backcountry gear for this. Most of it's around 9,000'.


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