Elephants Back 4x

Tue, Dec 19, 2017

With: Jackie Burd

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
previously climbed Sun, Apr 4, 2004

Home on winter break, Jackie wanted to do something adventurous and suggested trying out crampons and axe, something she had no experience with. A quick weather check showed a weak storm with high wind potential coming through the Tahoe area Tuesday night, so it seemed prudent to get in and out before that time. Family stuff kept us in San Jose until around 11a on Monday, after which we made tracks for snow country. We stopped at the Sierra at Tahoe ski resort on US50 near Echo Summit to get an afternoon workout with the few hours we had before sunset. We didn't have enough time to get up to the highpoint above the resort, we but had fun climbing some steep terrain under one of the chairlifts on the left side of the resort. It wasn't the first time Jackie'd been on snowshoes, but it was the first time with any real gradient and worked out nicely. Even though it had been several weeks since it last snowed, the sun wasn't strong enough to consolidated what little snow there was this early in the season. This meant the crampons would stay in our packs and we'd stick to snowshoes. After returning to the bottom of the hill several hours later, we packed our stuff in the van and drove to South Lake Tahoe where we had a room reserved at the Motel 6. We ate way too much Thai food that night and went to bed fairly early.

It was 23F outside when we got up and headed out around 7a the next morning with a colorful sunrise to greet us. With our Sno Park pass in hand (printed out via internet), we drove up and over Luther Pass on SR89 and then up to Carson Pass at the top of SR88. My plan was for us to snowshoe a few miles out to Winnemucca Lake and then climb Round Top if conditions permitted. We spent about an hour covering the distance to the lake, finding it frozen and a novel experience for Jackie to walk along the surface with several inches of solid ice beneath us. Leniticular clouds had formed early overhead and we had little sunshine for the first hour and a half. The winds increased as we climbed higher above the lake as Jackie's toes were growing colder. We passed a trio of guys my age who had started out ahead of us on crampons, and Jackie was quite proud to have been able to pass them (the conditions definitely favored snowshoes today). We got up to about 9,400ft with the winds growing stronger when, after a little pow-wow, we decided to turn around. Jackie felt embarrassed that we would have to descend past the guys we had so recently outrun, so we made a wide U-turn to allow us to make an end-around back to the descent line without going by them. When I looked back up, they had paused to watch us descending, probably wondering why.

We returned to the lake and then continued northeast to Elephants Back in way of a consolation prize. The upper several hundred feet of this smaller objective were mostly free of snow, so we abandoned the snowshoes and climbed the remaining distance in our boots. It was cold and windier on top so we stayed only long enough to post a few photos and videos on social media (pretty much what you'd expect from a millennial). We got back to Carson Pass shortly before 11:30a and decided to call it a day. The wind got the better of us and we didn't really want to go back out and fight it any more. Though we didn't make our primary objective and never got to use the crampons, Jackie still reported having a great time. And that's about all Dad could ask for...

Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

For more information see these SummitPost pages: Elephants Back

This page last updated: Tue Dec 19 19:03:33 2017
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com