Round Top & Elephants Back from Carson Pass 2/20/15 | High Sierra Topix  

Round Top & Elephants Back from Carson Pass 2/20/15

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Round Top & Elephants Back from Carson Pass 2/20/15

Postby seanr » Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:03 am

Round Top and Elephants Back are popular summits reachable from Carson Pass area year round with possible activities including snowshoeing, skiing, backpacking, sledding, alpine climbing, mountaineering, and hiking depending on conditions.

2014 was not a good winter/spring for snowpack, but nearby I had found plenty in early April for family sledding, as well as a snow scramble loop of Stevens Peak and Red Lake Peak from Crater Lake (we parked in a pull out popular with backcountry skiers along HWY 88 in Hope Valley). Despite a paltry snowpack that was shallower than last early April, we were back for more in 2015, and all activities were possible in late February of this year; the difference was that the only snow was from Carson Pass up, and south facing sunny slopes were barren. Since we would be using a state snow park this time, we grabbed a snow park pass at Sorenson's Resort after boondocking in Hope Valley. By the time we set out, it was midday and warm; often the best strategy in winter is to start early and be off the snow and away from slopes in the afternoon, but conditions were forgiving enough to excuse our laziness. Check conditions before you go: http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/advisory#null.

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Taking a break after heading upslope from the main lower trail to the base of Elephants Back. We bypassed Frog Lake area.


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Up on Elephants Back.


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Round Top from Elephants Back. It is possible to continue left (south) along the ridge from here to reach Round Top with class 3-4 scrambling, but heading (SW) to Winnemucca and Round Top Lake areas usually provides a class 2 approach.


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The previous afternoon, the dogs and I had hiked to Winnemucca Lake and then ascended this slope to gain Round Top's West Ridge Route near its top. Marley, the Kelpie, is the black dot downslope. She is 12 now and sometimes has a little trouble keeping up lately. I use a skijoring belt, sled dog harnesses, and sled dog bungee rope to tether them to me hands free. Dylan is 11, but rarely falls behind (yellow and black rope seen here connected to my skijoring belt).


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Caples Lake (top center of image) would be completely iced over and snow covered most years, but I could see some water and dry terrain. Microspikes and trekking poles were helpful on the steep slope I opted to climb. Sometimes crampons and axe are needed here.


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Looking north to Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness.


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Looking northeast to Red Lake Peak, Hope Valley, and Freel Peak. Red Lake Peak is a popular ski and snowshoe area most winters, but is mostly barren this time. Carson Pass lies at the base of Red Lake Peak's south slope (center).


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Atop the summit of Round Top after scrambling the south face from the West Ridge Route.


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The ridge extends east and can be traveled to Elephants Back (class 3-4 and probably better with consolidated snow rather than barren or powdery).


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Looking toward Blue Lakes.


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By the way, the summit block is easy class 3, but uncomfortable for some hoping for class 2.


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Looking up at an alpine snow climb route before continuing back to Carson Pass. One could ski all the way down this slope and then down a long bowl before reaching some flats in the forest near Carson Pass. Jealous of the tracks, I did a bit of glissading.


Looking for another option farther south of Tahoe, but north of Yosemite? When Sonora Pass opens in mid to late spring, snow activities abound there and may extend longer due to higher elevation. If looking for quick access to backcountry snow spring of 2015 in severe drought, it may be your best bet without traveling to the Cascades. Conditions: http://www.bridgeportavalanchecenter.org



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seanr
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Re: Round Top & Elephants Back from Carson Pass 2/20/15

Postby Jason » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:12 am

Awesome! I love that area, although I prefer it in Summer and Fall. Thanks for the report and photos!
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Re: Round Top & Elephants Back from Carson Pass 2/20/15

Postby Vaca Russ » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:38 am

Jason wrote:Thanks for the report and photos!


Yes, thanks for the report!

We have got to get over to that area soon!

Thanks,

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: Round Top & Elephants Back from Carson Pass 2/20/15

Postby seanr » Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:53 pm

Jason wrote:Awesome! I love that area, although I prefer it in Summer and Fall. Thanks for the report and photos!

Yeah, I used to feel the same way, but despite plenty of nice trails nearby, I can't stand staying away from the Sierra for half the year. I see ski trips in our future. It's for the sake of my kids; nothing's in it for me whatsoever. :wink:
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